Guest blogger: Shane Torchiana, Sloan Master of Finance candidate

From left: Shane Torchiana and his externship sponsor, Umber Ahmad '94.

From left: Shane Torchiana and his externship sponsor, Umber Ahmad ’94.

After working in asset management for a few years before coming to MIT, I was expecting more of the same out of my externship at Platinum Gate Capital Management. But, as has a tendency to happen, life has thrown a curveball. The past couple weeks have been more interesting than any other professional experience I’ve had. Being asked to do things like travel to the UAE or hang out backstage at a Victoria’s Secret fashion show have made my days here anything but run of the mill.

Many would call Platinum Gate a multidisciplined asset manager—i.e. hedge fund—but in essence it is a group that links those seeking capital in the U.S. to those able to provide it—in abundance—in the Middle East. They serve as a literal platinum gate through which capital can pass. Generally, the company deals with private equity/venture capital transactions as well as project finance, but mandates continually evolve to meet clients’ needs.

The firm is a new one, headed by the affable sibling duo of Jolyne and Joseph Caruso. Most recently, they were Lehman executives who individually had the foresight—or perhaps luck—to get out while the firm was still standing. Within Platinum Gate, Jolyne runs a top-notch investments team here in New York, while Joe and his team primarily handle relationships out of the Dubai office. Joe started the firm not long after he left Lehman a year and a half ago and Jolyne joined him this past summer, opening the New York office and bringing in an impressive investments team. One member of that team is Umber Ahmad, a 1994 MIT grad who went on to get an MPH from Michigan and an MBA from Wharton. After working in the Goldman Sachs Private Equity Group, she cofounded Goldenridge Capital and more recently joined Platinum Gate as a director. Luckily for me, Umber was kind enough to put out a posting for an extern this winter, which is how I landed at Platinum Gate.

Platinum Gate Capital Management

New York offices of Platinum Gate Capital Management.

I came in as an investments intern, not entirely sure of what I’d be doing at this new company. As I’ve alluded to, the experience has far exceeded my expectations of what an internship could be. From day one I was meeting with an eclectic mix of impressive and interesting clients, from sports team owners to Hollywood super-agents to mega-farm entrepreneurs. This was done working closely with the CIO, Adam Goodfriend—another banking & hedge fund all-star—and even the president, Jolyne. Having the opportunity to originate work on a billion-dollar clean energy deal right out of the gate was not something I expected, but that and other experiences like it have come as a nice surprise.

It has been a wild ride thus far, one in which I have had the opportunity to work with outstanding people at every turn. Already I have learned quite a bit about the deal side of the business, using the financial skills I’ve honed at MIT to help work out mutually beneficial capital allocations. In what appears to be a happy ending, it looks as if there might be an opportunity for permanent employment here as well. This has been a great experience that I can thank MIT and Platinum Gate for providing.