2010s

Alex Gershon '11

Just a brief update on my life: I am currently living in Washington, DC where I am a member of the Class of 2015 at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) where I am getting an MA in International Relations with a dual concentration in International Economics and Korea Studies alongside a specialization in the International Relations of Asia.

 

2000s

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90s

Jack Friend '96

During my family road trip starting in Chicago, I had the chance to visit Rich Steinmeier (and his family) and his neighbor Brent Danko in NJ followed up by hanging out with Paul "Gimpy" Godinez in NYC over the 4th of July weekend. Missed seeing the other NYC brothers who were out of town.


Keith Lotman '99

In mid-August, 7 members of the class of '99 (Dan Olson, Dan Rosen, Greg Rauscher, Shane Finneran, Rob Fuller, Saam Farhang, Keith Lotman) and Imri Eisner met in Philadelphia for our annual Fantasy Football draft. The league started in 1999 or 2000 and we have been meeting for the draft 3 of the last 4 yrs with prior get togethers in Las Vegas (2010) and Chicago (2012).


Stephen Gresdo '96March 2015

Thanks for taking the time to do this. First, could you speak about what you do and how you got to this point in your career?

Sure. So since 2013, I’ve been running my own hedge fund. I graduated in ‘96 and went to work on Wall Street. For nearly 20 years now, I’ve worked at investment banks as a trader or at hedge funds as a portfolio manager. Most recently, I was a proprietary trader at Barclays. Due to regulatory changes and me wanting to do my own thing, I decided to leave and go out on my own. I’ve been running my own company for about a year and a half now. I like working for myself rather than being one of 28000 employees.

Is it hard to get started with your own fund?

Yes, it’s difficult to become established because you need a great deal of knowledge, experience, and most importantly, clients who trust you. A major challenge is proving a track record of success when you are a young fund. Once you reach the three-year mark as a standalone, people are much more confident in your track record. Most of my clients are people I have worked with in the business in the past, but attaining new clients is not too difficult as long as you can prove your ability. My model is reliant on analytical bottoms-up research of companies. I usually take longer term positions than many others, and I’ve found this to be very effective.

What has your involvement in the chapter been like since you left Penn, and how has that experience been for you?

I like to think that the class of 96, my class, has been pretty involved. When it comes to Homecoming, the McCron dinner, giving back to the house with both time and dollars, or just getting together, the class of 96 has a great turn out. We used to do an annual summer gathering. It started when immediately after graduation, former president (Rich Steinmeier, ‘96) moved to Cleveland, and we did a summer get together there. We would all go to Cleveland every summer for a long three-day weekend to play golf, hit the town, whatever we felt like. Eventually, Rich decided to go to Stanford Business School, and Quang O (also ’96), who lived in Spicer, Minnesota, picked up the summer gathering. Guys would all go up to his lake house in Minnesota. We would play golf, get out on the lake, go drunk bowling, all of that. We did that for 6 or 7 summers. The amount of guys we were able to get together for these was always impressive. It’s a great thing to see as an alumnus. Another example is just this past summer. We decided to rent a house in the Poconos. Half the group was from the class of 96, and half from 97. Guys from all over the country came. Here we are 20 years later, and we’re still getting together.

Also, for the current seniors, any advice for how to remain involved and get the most out of SigEp as an alumnus?

On the other hand, of course there are guys who have fallen off the face of the earth. I haven’t spoken to them since graduation in May of 96. My advice to the younger guys is that if you have an hour to spend, spend the entire hour to get in touch with someone who has been somewhat involved, and not the guy who actively chooses to be absent. There’s a reason why some brothers are completely absent. They’ve chosen to be that way and that’s fine, but it’s more worthwhile to reach out to someone who has been less involved and has shown effort in the past. That hour you spend may get him to come to the next event or reengage with the brotherhood in some other way.

What is your best memory from your undergraduate days in SigEp?

I’ll give you two. Both fall into the “Man, that was a great idea” camp. We had become brothers in the Spring on ’93; so our sophomore year, 93-94, we had that fenced in parking lot in the back. We never used it for anything so we thought why don’t we have parties outside? They’ve always been inside. We could fit a ton of people, and we could probably get a band to come play. We decided on a reggae party, and we started the tradition. We told the people who were parking there that their cars needed to be out by Friday afternoon. To set up the stage, we used five of those bedframes that come with the rooms in the house. We lined them up in the parking lot and that was our stage for the band. We ordered a truck-full of beer as well. Now we just needed decorations. So Rich Fruzzetti (’96) and I went to Chinatown and got a bunch of bed sheets and Chinese lanterns with candles. When we get in line, the bill comes to $31.80, but we only had 31 dollars. Bear in mind, it was college in the early 1990s – we had no credit cards and Velcro wallets. So we’re looking everywhere for more money. We’re down on the floor looking for dropped coins, when a woman in front of us, feeling pity, gives us a dollar. Once everything came together, it wound up being the biggest party at Penn that year. The parking lot was jammed. The first floor was packed. There were also guys on the roof, which probably wasn’t allowed. There were probably 3000 people there total, and we made so much money from it that we had our social budget for the entire year.

My second story:

Some would say the female scene at Penn leaves something to be desired. We had 30 fraternities and 8 sororities, so the ability to consistently pull off great mixers could be a challenge. A few of the sororities were always fully-engaged when it came to mixing, (Chi O and Alpha Phi come to mind); but others seemed to mail it in. So one day some of us Class of 96 guys said forget this, we’ll just go to Villanova and find a party there. We would get on Septa and just head out and look for parties. We went to SigEp parties there once in a while and ended up meeting enough girls to get their sororities to come to Penn. So we started talking to Villanova sororities, the idea being that they would come to us. We called up Nova Alpha Phi and told them we would have a very nice, formal mixer with a full bar (low quality alcohol of course). So it’s the night of, and we’re all excited. At 8 o’clock, two yellow school buses packed with girls pull up. The nuns come in first and set ground rules. They tell us the girls have to leave at midnight, no girls could go upstairs, etc. We proceed to have a blowout party with a DJ in the basement and all the Popov vodka you could handle. Inevitably, some girls snuck upstairs anyway.

When midnight came, some of the girls were crying because they didn’t want to leave. They hid in the parking lot behind cars because they were having too much fun to go home. We had to ask all the brothers if any of the girls snuck upstairs. Eventually, we found the girls in the parking lot, and they had to leave. This is when I coined the phrase “At midnight they all turned into pumpkins.” We also go a few numbers, which was big because this is before cell phones and Facebook, you know. I actually wound up dating one of these girls. So later that week, it leaked on the gossip column of 34th Street that we had the party with a Villanova sorority. Obviously that didn’t go over too well with several of the Penn sororities, but we didn’t care because everyone had a great time. Girls at these other schools wanted to mix with us. At Penn, mixers can feel like obligations, whereas these girls from other schools really want to go. They’re excited to mix with Penn guys. After all, we’re going to be successful, we’re employable. (This tradition of mixing with other area schools has continued since. –Editor) So two of my favorite memories have to be the two events our class initiated: Interscholastic mixers, and the reggae party.

Could you tell us more about your life outside of your career? (Family, hobbies, etc)

I travel quite a bit, not extensively. I go on a nice trip one a month, maybe. Maybe once a year I’ll go to Europe or South America. Usually meet up with a friend somewhere in the country, maybe San Francisco, Miami, Boston, Las Vegas, etc. Most of my time is taken up by work and traveling.

Regrets from your undergraduate years?

The greatest mistake in my time at Penn is that I didn’t explore the city or the surrounding communities as much as I should have. I know it’s crazy, you’re involved, you’re busy, but when I look back, just going downtown, hopping on the blue line, and heading to Old City or Rittenhouse Square is a great experience and it’s so easy to do. I would do it every now and again, but I regret not doing it more. I spent four years in college and I walked up and down South Street maybe twice. Other things like making road-trips to area schools to see friends more often would have been great as well.

 

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