Aaron Albright and Steve Kelleher graduated from Yale SOM in 1999. They traveled different career paths until 2022, when Kelleher hired his old classmate. Together, they’ve launched Hillhouse Advisors, an investment advisory arm of historic Baltimore firm Alex. Brown. The new initiative was named in honor of Yale SOM’s original campus.
Steve Kelleher: When you look to grow a team in a professional services environment, you really, really want to be connecting with the right people—people you know and respect. All of those things need to be in place. It can be very, very difficult to find that right chemistry. With Aaron, I didn’t have that sense of, “Is this the right fit?” It was almost instinctual to know that this was a great opportunity. There were just so many overlapping points over so many years.
Aaron Albright: Although we do share the same education, we have different skill sets. Steve was a CPA by training—an accounting background, which is completely relevant and helpful. I have a different background—I was in equities and capital markets. As we know from our time at Yale, by bringing diverse skill sets together, you can build a stronger team.
Steve Kelleher: Part of our brand is the education we got from the Yale School of Management. I would say, first and foremost, we are a team. The major skill set we learned at Yale was how to function well on teams and draw the best of everybody’s abilities, and utilize everybody’s skill sets, and effectively work together to produce results. And this business is a team business. You can’t do it alone
Aaron Albright: On the technical side, we’re providing investment advice and guidance and constructing portfolios, all skills we learned with our investment management professors. David Swensen taught me how to really evaluate outside managers, alternative investment managers, and how to think about constructing a portfolio of alternative investments, and Will Goetzmann introduced all of us to modern portfolio theory and diversification.
Now we’ve created a business, and we’re in the process of creating a brand and marketing, and that’s another whole side of our education. I remember my classes in marketing, and they’re still helping me understand the customer base and how to most effectively market to that base. We’re right in the middle of all of these things, so the education we got at SOM is relevant in so many ways.
Steve Kelleher: Everything we do is underpinned with solid values and ethics. Students who choose SOM already have these values embedded in them, but they’re greatly enhanced in the classroom and also throughout campus. The special thing about the Yale School of Management is that it really is a community. It’s a small school, and it brings together a truly terrific group of people.
All these years later, I’m friends with an enormous number of my classmates, and it’s been a really special thing to have this group of people to go out into the world with.