A conversation with Alia Aziz ’14, a director at UBS Asset Management. Alia is an investment analyst on the U.S. large and mid-cap growth equity strategies team, as well as on the digital transformation equity strategy team, with coverage primarily on consumer sectors. Alia was the founding analyst at Spyglass Capital Management, a concentrated U.S. mid-cap long-only growth fund that launched in 2015. She started her career as the sole analyst at Edgewood Management, a concentrated U.S. large cap long-only growth fund.
Alia is interviewed by Sharan Subramanian ’24.
Alia Aziz: When I was looking at roles coming out of SOM, but I remember picking a stock and doing a two pager, and sending it around to any contact that I could find. And even if they don't respond to you, if that stock ends up working out in four or five months they're like, "Oh, wait a second. That person who reached out to me on LinkedIn had this stock that's now up 50%. Maybe I should reach out to him or her."
Sharan Subramanian: Welcome to Career Conversations, a podcast from the Yale School of Management. I'm Sharan, a student in the MBA class of 2024. Each episode of Career Conversations is a candid conversation between a student here at SOM, that's me, and a member of the Yale community who's doing something that I'm curious about. Kind of like an informational interview, except you get to listen in.
Today's conversation is with Alia Aziz, a director at the UBS Asset Management. Alia is an investment analyst on the US large and mid-cap growth equity strategies team, as well as on the digital transformation equity strategy team. Her coverage includes primarily the consumer sectors. Alia was the founding analyst at Spyglass Capital Management, a concentrated US mid-cap long only growth fund that launched in 2015. She has also been at AllianceBernstein. Alia started her career as the sole analyst at Edgewood Management, a concentrated US large cap long only growth fund. Alia holds a BA in history from Yale College and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. Hello, Alia, welcome to the podcast. It's great to have you with us.
Alia Aziz: Thanks so much.
Sharan Subramanian: Your career in equity research is very impressive, to say the least. Now for our listeners, can you describe first what equity research is, and can you also share the story behind how you came to be interested in equity research?
Alia Aziz: Yeah, sure. So equity research is basically just researching publicly traded companies, and is understanding of the business dynamics, competitive dynamics, who's winning share, who's losing share, and making a bet on those publicly traded companies. I work in long only, so it's always making bets on the stocks that I think are going to go up. And I do have a longer time horizon. So over the next three to five years, I'm making a bet on the secular growth industries, and within that, the secular share gainers that are going to create value for themselves and shareholders, whether that's through sort of top line growth, margin expansion, buybacks, whatever the case may be.
And again, I just want to sort of highlight, I'm long only, I focus on growth. And there's a lot of different types of investors out there. So there are the hedge funds who can short, there are the investors who focus more on value. That's not what I do. But it's really always valuable to understand where other investors are, what their time horizons might be, what their viewpoints might be to understand who else is in the market. So I have a long time horizon, but I'm also participating in the market with people who have a time horizon of a day. And so understanding who else is in the market is really valuable when you're trying to make money.
And then how I got into the career, actually when I was at SOM, I thought I'd actually be going into investment banking. There's something very comfortable about the sort of the two year analyst program coming out of business school or two year associate program, whatever the case may be. And I was in the city for one of those, the all day interview rounds at Citi actually. And I fell into the opportunity because I went in and had lunch with a friend who was interning at Edgewood Management, which is a long only growth fund in New York City.
And the sort of opportunity was that I'd get to work just as hard, but have a lot more visibility into the portfolio managers and into the companies themselves and learn a lot. So I sort of fell into it. I was a history major as an undergrad, so I liked the opportunity to sort of think strategically, think over the longer term, and learn about industries and business models. And I am very, very grateful that I fell into the opportunity because I've loved it. Obviously tough periods, and times where I've chosen the wrong stocks, but as a career path, if you're basically going to pay me to learn for the rest of my life, then I'll do it.
Sharan Subramanian: Awesome. There's a lot of really interesting things to unpack.
Alia Aziz: Yeah, let's unpack that.
Sharan Subramanian: First on the history piece. You noted that as an undergraduate at Yale you studied history, and you briefly alluded to some of the pieces of what you studied in history that have maybe helped you in equity research. But I was wondering if you could speak more so to the connections between your coursework at Yale College and your career in equity research?
Alia Aziz: Yeah, so I guess some of it is being able to tell a story, and some of it is being able to condense weeks, months, whatever the case may be, of research into a very concrete, tangible recommendation. In history, I remember, I think I did my undergrad, my long paper, on one battle in World War I called Gallipoli. And you put together 110 pages of research, whatever the case may be. But it was a semester's worth of research and being able to condense it into a thesis. Communication is really, really important in the industry because I can do a lot of work on a company, and I can open up Excel and build out my DCF, and what the right price of the stock can be, but if I don't communicate that clearly to my portfolio manager, then it's not going to lead to any action.
And if it's not in the portfolio, you really aren't doing your job. I can be right on all the stocks in the world, but if it's not in the portfolio, it's really, really meaningless. So being able to condense a lot of research and crystallize it into I guess the three or four drivers of an investment thesis, and where I'm different from consensus is really, really important. So ability to write well and communication is key. Something I strive to work on every day in just the way I structure my communication with my portfolio manager, whether that's over the phone or over email.
Sharan Subramanian: Got it. That certainly makes sense. And that said, when it comes to equity research, some of our listeners may know that there's the buy side and the sell side. But for those who are listening who may not be familiar with these terms, would you be able to explain the difference between the two for them, and would you also be able to share the differences in the nature and type of work between these two sides?
Alia Aziz: The key difference is the sell side works at larger institutions like banks, so basically selling the securities. So I work at UBS, and there's the sell side portion of UBS, and that's associated with e-investment banking. They're not actually acting on recommendations. The buy side is different because we are acting on recommendations. We actually own the underlying securities. So a sell side analyst can be buy rated on Chipotle, but he or she doesn't own the stock of Chipotle. Versus me on the buy side, I can have a high conviction in Chipotle, and we actually take action on it in the portfolio, and allocate a percentage of the portfolio to that stock, and then make money on it over the long term.
Just in terms of thought process and research, the sell side does typically have a shorter time horizon, so they think about it in terms of one year price targets. And their coverage is generally a little bit more narrow. So sitting in my seat, I cover consumer names. And that's consumer staples, so like a Proctor and Gamble or a Hershey that just reported this morning. Or again, it's consumer discretionary. So that's like a hotel, like a Hilton that reported yesterday, or it's going to be a restaurant like a Chipotle.
And then even some communication services I also cover. So some of the e-commerce names, or maybe some of the events and entertainment names like a WWE or a Live Nation. For the sell side, they tend to be sort of industry specific. So there's a hotels analyst who's covered hotels for 10, 15 years, and knows the intricate details of depreciation and amortization of a Hilton in 2013. So it's a little bit of a different time horizon and maybe depth of research and breadth of coverage. But the underlying idea is that any analyst, buy side or sell side, knows the company very well, has an investment thesis and recommendation. It's just a question of whether or not you act on it.
Sharan Subramanian: Given that you're covering all these different areas within the broader consumer sector, I was just curious to hear how you came to be a part of that sector as opposed to the many others that exist.
Alia Aziz: I think partly it was just opportunity driven. There was a consumer analyst opportunity at UBS. I will say I've been a generalist in the past, and focusing on growth historically. Which typically means that you're going to be focusing on consumer, you're going to be focusing on information technology, maybe you're focusing a little bit on comm services, and you're focused on healthcare. That's sort of where my historical expertise has been, and that's partly driven by the nature of growth industries overall.
I think a career aspiration for me over time is to broaden my coverage again beyond just consumer, but think about the consumerization of healthcare, think about e-commerce and where that falls. And so broadening my coverage is I think about the consumer wallet overall. Because that's the ultimate question, how is the consumer spending his or her dollar? And that's definitely much broader than maybe just buying a burrito. It's about the cost of housing, it's the cost of healthcare. It's the fact that Verizon is essentially a consumer staples company now because nobody is turning off their wifi.
Sharan Subramanian: Absolutely. And it's highly possible that right now our listeners are really excited, and they may be wondering how to break into a job in equity research. So can you share any tips for how you've landed the many roles that you've had, and can you speak to the importance of networking in these fields?
Alia Aziz: Yes, sure. What I found when I was at SOM is that there was a really established way to get into investment banking. And I think it's great to be talking about asset management more because, again, it's a career that you can build over multiple decades and you basically get paid to learn. So the more awareness about it that there is, I think the better. And the idea now that there are sort of sell side opportunities on LinkedIn. Typically people break into the industry by going to the sell side first, and then moving over to the buy side, and you build out your core area of expertise. It's long hours, it's hard work, and then ultimately I think a lot of people end up moving over to the buy side.
In terms of breaking into the industry, when I was looking at roles coming out of SOM, and I eventually ended up at AllianceBernstein, but I remember picking a stock, and doing a two pager and sending it around to any contact that I could find on LinkedIn. And PMs are always looking for ideas. They always want to be making money, so give them a two pager of a stock pitch and add value that way. And even if they don't respond to you, if that stock ends up working out in four or five months, they're like, "Oh, wait a second. That person who reached out to me on LinkedIn had this stock that's now up 50%. Maybe I should reach out to him or her." And it might not lead to a job. First of all, you now have a work product that you can put out there in various channels, but you also have sort of a stake in the ground, and something that people remember you by other than just sort of an email.
So I think actually what I did at the time, I pitched Delta, and it was the most text that you could possibly fit on two pages ever. So I probably blinded portfolio managers more than actually getting a job, but I did a ton of work in it. I remember working at it a lot at SOM, learning about refineries, learning about the opportunity to drive margins. And honestly, I don't look at airlines right now, but I will always remember that two pager that I put together.
And again, if it doesn't lead to a job, and you end up going through sort of LinkedIn and a bank career page and applying that way, you'll always have that research that you can rely on. And in these interviews, you're probably going to be asked, "What stocks do you look at? What stocks do you own in your PA?" Having some sort of awareness about how to look at company, how to look at a multiple evaluation, having some sense of when your investment thesis is going to be proven or negated is going to be helpful.
But I'm not going to lie, it's hard. It's like any job, it's hard, and it's a little bit less established than the traditional sort of investment banking path or consulting interview process out of business school. I'm happy to be a resource to anybody at SOM who wants to have that conversation offline. In terms of networking, it's just like networking in my career today where I don't know how extroverted I am, but it is sort of like a reminder that I need to keep on building out my network, whether it's other women who work in the industry who are more senior than me, or whether it's going to industry lunches because I want to hear what everybody else is thinking ahead of a quarter.
The nature of life is building out a network. I have a twin brother, and let me tell you, he's much better at networking than I am. But it's a reminder, it's sort of like a development area I would say for me, something that I want to keep on working on. Because the more I do it, probably the more comfortable and confident I get about having those ad hoc conversations about a stock, or what's priced in, or my career.
Sharan Subramanian: Yeah. No, I think networking is something that we all have to work on.
Alia Aziz: It's exhausting.
Sharan Subramanian: It certainly is.
Alia Aziz: Yeah.
Sharan Subramanian: Alia, I was taking a look back at one of our emails back and forth, and you said that you love your job, which is actually really refreshing to hear. Strangely, I feel like I don't hear that that much these days for some reason. But was wondering if you could share with us what you love about your job, and on the opposite side, on a human level, what is the hardest part about your job?
Alia Aziz: What I love about my job is that I get paid to learn. This probably comes back to being a history major, but I think I'm a pretty curious person. I will ask questions to a brick wall. But having that job where, and especially focusing on growth industries, I basically get to learn about transformative companies, transformative management teams that have a long time horizon, and are building a brand and creating value over the next five, 10 years. It's not necessarily what's just going to happen tomorrow. I find that really, really interesting. I focus on US companies now, but also in this industry by looking at some of the companies that are growing internationally, I also get to learn about other cultures, how they spend money, where they are in terms of athleisure growth or what sort of foods they're buying or the development of...
You basically just get to learn every day, and it's sort of boundless, which I think is very exciting. Ultimately, I'm also pretty competitive, so I also love being proven right. And that's probably also my least favorite thing is being proven wrong. And that happens. That's happening right now as we speak during earning season. Companies are going to miss. And I'd like to be more right than I am wrong. It's great to be right and have taken action on it. We talked about Lulu before this, but that was a lot of back and forth that we had with my team about what to do ahead of the quarter. And it was really, really rewarding to have done the work and have it pay off.
The most challenging thing about the job is getting it wrong and having it impact your confidence. I think it's something really powerful, and I think about this a lot, is as analytical as I am about a stock or a company, I really have to be about myself and my performance. So there's constantly this reflection period where you get something wrong. And it's not fun, but you have to look at what you missed. Where were you versus expectations? What did you not understand about the stock, or what was going to happen in the next quarter? How did you miss communicating with your PM to be super crystal clear about what you thought was going to happen in the quarter? That's a hard thing, and it takes humility and self-awareness. But again, it's something that I try to apply at work and then also outside of work too in my personal life.
Sharan Subramanian: Absolutely. And you mentioned this concept of getting it right or getting it wrong on a given stock, but I was wondering if you could just share maybe at a higher level how you know whether you're doing a good job in your role? And to that point, it'd be wonderful to hear a little bit more about how you're evaluated in the role. And as a third part to that question, what does collaboration with other people look like?
Alia Aziz: So many questions. Okay. Part one, how I am evaluating the job. I get a daily report card, and it is the stocks that I recommend, and it's whether or not they go up or down. And then our team as a whole gets a daily report card. You open Bloomberg and you go to the portfolio tab, and you see the portfolios and whether they're green or red. That can be distracting sometimes to be honest, especially when you have a longer time horizon. Because it can be really debilitating when you see stock, especially in parts in 2022, where stocks can be down on no fundamentals, no news. They're just down on maybe one comment in a different part of the sector impacting people's confidence in the long-term view of the consumer, or for the tech analysts that I work with for SaaS spending next year.
On a longer term basis how I'm evaluated, and I think my boss is actually great about this, it's the sort of report card that you get every day. And obviously you put it together, and it's a quarterly report card and it's an annual report card. So we have those conversations every quarter about how my performance is versus the benchmark, and I guess versus other consumer stocks that I could be picking. What names am I constantly missing? And there are a few that I can think of just off the top of my head that we're just not talking about enough.
And then from a more qualitative perspective, I think it's just gradual improvement over time. And that again comes down to communication, it comes down to breadth of coverage. And yeah, I keep on coming back I guess to communication. I just constantly want to be getting better every single day. And I constantly want to make sure that my PM knows exactly where I stand on names. It can be really frustrating for a portfolio manager again when he or she doesn't understand where their analysts are on a stock. So just being very crystal clear.
I think what I'm trying to do right now, as I think about going through this quarter, is what a thesis break would entail for me. So when I come out with a quarterly earnings preview, these are my expectations. But if this happens on a stock and I have it, I one in my head right now, if this happens with a stock that reports next week, then that is a thesis break for me, and I need to sort of walk away. So it's a long answer because again we have numbers that come out every day, but it's sometimes not as simple as that. And I hope I've communicated, I know that I've communicated with my boss my intent to just keep on getting better and build on mistakes.
Sharan Subramanian: Let's say you have a certain thesis on a stock, and it's highly possible that that thesis may not be proven over a quarter or a few quarters or a year. It may seem like you're not doing a good job, when in reality people need patience. How does that factor into how you're evaluated?
Alia Aziz: Honestly, that's a great question. And this is something that I struggle with and something that my portfolio manager struggles with and every analyst focuses on. And I think that's sort of why I talked about the idea of what a thesis break entails, which is why we have this idea of signposts with our investment thesis. And there are signposts that you either hit or you don't hit. I think also having things in paper and in writing, and we have to sort of submit investment theses. Looking back on those a year down the road and seeing this idea of thesis drift. And I think one of the classes I took at SOM was on behavioral economics, but the idea of all these biases that you can have, one of the biases is that you sort of have this backwards bias, and maybe your thesis drifts a little bit over time.
Having something in writing to hold yourself accountable can be really valuable. And that's good proof that you look back at what your thesis was, and it's so different today, the thesis just isn't coming true. And then you sort of have to wonder how long is a piece of string and what's the opportunity cost of waiting for this? Because everything that you own, you're missing out on owning something else. Everything is sort of like the opportunity cost, both in terms of the actual dollars of where you're putting the money, but also in terms of time. Because time is probably the biggest constraint in this industry. There are hundreds of stocks that I could be doing work on, and that we could be owning. If we're owning one stock where the thesis is constantly drifting and shifting, we're not owning something else where it is a very clean story that just keeps on executing and probably takes up far less time.
Sharan Subramanian: I see. It certainly makes sense. And I think it's a good segue to the next question I had on risk. What is the exact role of risk in the work that you do, whether that be factoring in opportunity costs or otherwise?
Alia Aziz: Well, yeah, I mean there are certainly a number of hardcoded risk metrics we track on a portfolio level, whether it's tracking error or beta. Increasingly we're factoring in some of the ESG risks, whether that's a carbon intensity score, or whether it's the rating that MSCI gives it. Any sort of the governance risks associated with dual share of classes. So there are a number of different metrics that we track on. And we also have sort of portfolio guidelines where we can't go over a certain amount. And that sort of factors into, I guess, portfolio construction. How many double barrel bets are we making, and do we own too much of information technology when SaaS spending could slow down? Or are we making too much of a bet on discretionary consumer spending when we know that a lot of the sort of COVID benefits are rolling off and inflation is really hurting consumer wallets?
So those are some of the hard numbers in terms of portfolio construction and risk metrics. From a personal standpoint, how I think about risk and our sort of investment thesis process and philosophy is around the idea of price targets that are based on a bear scenario, base scenario, and bull scenario. And when I think about the range of outcomes, I think about how close I am to the bear price target versus the bull price target. What's the upside versus downside? And sometimes am I willing to stomach a 10% move down if that's the floor. There's certain names in the portfolio right now where I feel pretty confident that there is far less downside than there is upside. And so am I able to stomach a bad quarter where the stock moves down 5%? Yes, because I'm pretty confident that, over the long term, the stock could go up 80% or double when certain macroeconomic conditions improve.
So again, I'm constantly thinking about how to think about risks. So if you have any pointers, certainly let me know. But this also, it sort of builds this ginormous mosaic of what I'm trying to do on a stock level, and then what our team is trying to do on a portfolio level to sort of balance risk. We certainly saw this with a number of investors last year who were super concentrated and super high growth. I'm sure you guys all know Cathie Wood, but she has a super high growth portfolio, and very concentrated bets on certain secular themes, whether it's autonomous driving or whether it's genomics, precision medicine, any of these things where there could be a lot of upside over the long term. But in the short term, it was a really risky portfolio. And obviously I really respect what she does, but I guess it's a little bit about mandate too.
Sharan Subramanian: And I'm curious, for UBS for instance, do you have a clearly articulated mandate that you guys follow?
Alia Aziz: Yeah. So I'm on the large cap growth team, and we have a number of different mandates. And we have specific clients with certain guidelines or restrictions on whether it's IPO participation or whether it's owning something under a certain market cap. So yes, we do have very strict sort of portfolio guidelines and mandates. But what we sort of promise across all of those mandates and portfolios is this commitment to the same sort of process and philosophy that just it doesn't deviate. So performance, we might underperform in a given month, we might outperform in a given month, but what we are definite about is that our process and philosophy and sort of depth and bottoms up fundamental research does not change.
Sharan Subramanian: Awesome. I was wondering if you could just share any tips with our listeners as to how you've managed to strike a balance or a harmony between your personal life and your professional life at work?
Alia Aziz: Yeah, sure. Well, in my professional life, I'm a big fan of to-do lists. I'm pretty organized about that, and I've also gotten increasingly comfortable with the to-do list that I can get done in any given day, and what can sort of be left for tomorrow or next week. Big, big fan of to-do lists. And that allows me to step away from work when I need to.
I don't have kids, but hopefully that's something that's coming at some point. But my friends have started to have kids. I have three brothers, I have parents who are getting older. I just value that family time a tremendous amount. So yeah, so I guess that balance, is just it's really important to me, and it's only gotten more important to me as I've gotten older and my parents have gotten older. That's sort of like time that you can't get back.
And there are ways that I can show up for my friends and family in ways that they've shown up for me in the past when I've been going through this stuff, that I just want to make sure that I keep on doing. Because obviously I love my career and I'm very competitive and I want to be very successful and make lots of money, but my family is family, and that is probably the most important thing to me.
Sharan Subramanian: Definitely. Now that said, if not for equity research, what do you think that you would be doing?
Alia Aziz: I would do anything where I could basically get paid to keep on learning. I know a number of people who have started consumer facing brands. And I think that there are some concepts that I'd be curious in pursuing. I've always been also really interested in healthcare. That's partly driven by some of my research in healthcare companies, and understanding where healthcare costs in this country are relative to other countries and relative to the value of that care. So maybe something in healthcare, especially healthcare technology where I think there's still just massive amount of opportunities given the volumes of data there.
I was actually looking at some of the SOM courses, and there are definitely a lot more like healthcare, IT in healthcare data classes than there were when I was there. And they sound really, really interesting, I looked at a bunch of healthcare IT companies like Athenahealth, when it was still public at least, or like a Cerner or an Epic, or any one of those companies. And then even some of the healthcare device companies that I think are super transformative. I think that's fascinating because it's going to be a huge cost for individuals for our country as a whole, and I just think there's a lot of opportunity where healthcare is in this country versus the apps that we can have on our phone to look at videos of dogs. There's got to be opportunity there.
Sharan Subramanian: Yeah, absolutely. And what does the future hold for you? For instance, if you see yourself remaining in the field of equity research, how do you envision your responsibilities changing? And if you see yourself perhaps moving on to a totally different type of career at some point in the future, what might that look like?
Alia Aziz: No, I really like equity research. I'd like to see my responsibilities grow, my coverage grow to maybe move more into the idea of managing a portfolio, rather than just managing a list of stocks. And that's just continuing to broaden my knowledge base of how it is to manage risk, not just in consumer, but across the portfolio overall. But I see myself continuing to be in equity research, asset management one way or the other.
Sharan Subramanian: Cool. Now I was wondering if you could first share with our listeners why you decided to attend SOM after graduating from Yale College?
Alia Aziz: Yeah, sure. So I was a Silver Scholar, and partly it was driven by the fact that I was a history major undergrad, and I also played a sport undergrad. So didn't really have an opportunity to think about my career post-Yale undergrad. And then I heard about the Silver Scholars program, and I really liked the idea of this core curriculum where I could build up my knowledge base, and then be able to go out into the world and offer a little bit more of a definable skillset versus just being a history major. Also, I love New Haven, and I liked the idea of, I guess, blending classroom experience with real world experience. I was really young my first year of business school. And so I've got to say I probably added more value both to the classroom and then outside of classroom to my classmates in the social setting my second year of SOM. But yeah, I was young, young, young,
Sharan Subramanian: Very cool. And we appreciate our Silver Scholars in the classroom. All of the ones that I know bring a lot of great energy to the classroom.
Alia Aziz: Well, they better. They're like 12 years old. I just went to a wedding for my SOM friend actually this past weekend in Brooklyn.
Sharan Subramanian: Who was a Silver Scholar?
Alia Aziz: No, no, he's a BCG. He was there my first year, so he graduated, I want to say, 2012, and we still are very close. I see him most weekends, and we go to Barry's Bootcamp classes together.
Sharan Subramanian: Oh, awesome. Lovely to hear that you're still in touch with some of your business school classmates.
Alia Aziz: Yeah.
Sharan Subramanian: Can you share what some of your favorite classes were while at SOM?
Alia Aziz: Yeah. I mean, it's going to be endowment management, being able to be in a room with David Swensen and Dean Takahashi, and I think now Mendelsohn is now the current head of the endowment. Understanding the longtime horizon, and then also understanding the idea of this alignment of incentives I thought was fascinating. It was a good combination of what I do now, and then also understanding what the purpose of money management is. It is creating value for education for decades to come. And I think it's just so incredibly powerful. I like the behavioral finance classes as well. I took negotiations with Barry, and I've got to say I don't think I was the best negotiator. I hope I've improved since then.
Sharan Subramanian: Yeah, I think that negotiation is a journey for all of us who've taken that class with Professor Nalebuff. Do you recall if you were involved in student government or any clubs?
Alia Aziz: I was in Women in Management. I was in investment management. I think those were the two big ones. Honestly, if I could do it again, I'd probably be more involved. I do remember you guys just have incredible speakers. So being able to go and get free pizza and be able to sit and hear a speaker is something that you really will never get again in your life. So I wish I had taken more advantage of that.
Sharan Subramanian: In closing though, we had a couple of quick questions for you, Alia. And first off, what's the best piece of advice you've received?
Alia Aziz: I guess I have two. One is how you treat everybody at the office and in life, not just your superiors, you have to just treat everybody with respect and kindness. And then another piece of advice that I got is just don't be afraid to ask stupid questions. I ask stupid questions all the time. And I'm not that embarrassed about it, especially when I'm learning about an industry in my field. Why do things work a certain way? Especially in this industry, if you look at a company for long enough, you think that you know it really well.
And then sometimes, and this is sort of the benefit of having team calls twice a week, where you get a question from somebody who covers healthcare or who covers financials, they ask you a question, you're totally caught flatfooted. And they might think it sounds stupid, but it's really not because sort of questions your underlying assumptions. And I should always be questioning my underlying assumptions. But that piece of advice actually came from a PM who manages billions of dollars, and it is pretty powerful when somebody with that knowledge base, that level of experience, can still ask stupid questions, and have great humility and a sense of humor about it.
Sharan Subramanian: What is a favorite quote of yours?
Alia Aziz: Oh gosh. I guess as it pertains to this industry, it's really going to be, I have a list of Warren Buffet idioms up on my desk. "Be greedy when others are fearful." That's a good one. "Best holding period is forever." That's another good one.
Sharan Subramanian: Do you have a favorite book that you'd like to share with our listeners?
Alia Aziz: I love historical nonfiction, and I do try to read books about, just similar to the podcast I listened to about why companies are successful. The book that I'm reading right now, for example, is the story of Spotify, which I think was made into some sort of Netflix special. In terms of fiction, I don't read fiction that much, but the ones that I read, I love The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Short, but very, very powerful book. In terms of authors, I love Erik Larson. So he wrote In the Garden of Beasts, Devil in the White City.
Sharan Subramanian: And what do you know about life today that you wish you knew 10 years ago?
Alia Aziz: I think maybe just patience. Time takes time. I think there's TIME, or things I must earn. So the idea of patience, humility. Gosh, I mean, there are so many things. I think I wish I was better at networking 10 years ago. I'm a little bit more confident about that today than I was 10 years ago. I was incredibly shy.
I forget who teaches that class competitor. Or no, it was the old dean, I think, of SOM. And I could not speak in that class. I was so terrified. So just the more I practiced networking and getting out of my comfort zone, probably the more confident I would become. And it also makes life a little bit more enjoyable. But gosh, there's so many things. I didn't know anything 10 years ago. But again, I guess also having the humility that I still probably don't know anything today is probably valuable.
Sharan Subramanian: Yeah. No, I think your humility in realizing that just speaks to what a long way you've come. And I've heard a quote, something to the effect of if you look back five years or look back 10 years and you're not cringing at the person that you were, then you haven't grown.
Alia Aziz: Yeah. Believe me, I'm cringing.
Sharan Subramanian: Same here. If our listeners want to follow you and your work, where's the best place they can find you?
Alia Aziz: I'm not a big social media person. But obviously I think my email is listed on the SOM website. People can definitely reach out. Whether it's Gmail or LinkedIn, I'm generally pretty responsive for questions, directions, advice, whatever the case may be. I'm also pretty open about giving out my cell phone number if people want to pick up the phone and call.
Sharan Subramanian: Thank you for sharing that. And finally, is there anything that we didn't ask you today that you'd like to answer or talk about?
Alia Aziz: I hope that, whoever listens to this, whether it's one person or two people, I hope that they learned a little bit. But these are also good conversations for me to have because it's a good reflection of where I am in my career, what's important to me, the areas that I can continue to learn from, the failures that I continue to grow from. And it's also a good reminder, especially during a busy earning season, that at my core I feel very fortunate and grateful to do what I do on a daily basis. Because the core job, again, is learning, being curious, asking questions, and that is a pretty seat to be in regardless of the hour I might work till tonight.
Sharan Subramanian: Certainly. And all that said, Alia, just thank you, first of all, for taking the time. And I'm glad that this conversation was hopefully an opportunity for you to reflect on the wonderful journey that you've had thus far. And I think we all are just excited to stay in touch, follow your journey. And yeah, thank you for being one of the wonderful alumni in the Yale and SOM community.
Alia Aziz: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much for asking me. I feel very honored, and I hope I will speak to you again at some point in the future.
Sharan Subramanian: All right. Talk soon. You've been listening to Career Conversations, a podcast from the Yale School of Management. If you like what you heard today, please subscribe. You can find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or however you take your podcasts. And if you're already a subscriber, please go to Apple Podcasts and rate us or leave a review. That's a great way to let other people know about the show. Career Conversations is produced by Yale SOM. The producer for this episode is Sharan Subramanian. For Career Conversations, Sharan. Thanks for listening, and we hope you'll tune in again soon.