Gabelli School of Business Adds New Specializations

Gabelli School of Business students will be able to further fine-tune their studies, thanks to the debut of two new specializations this month.
“Alternative Investments” and “Sports Business,” which are being headed by Kevin Mirabile, lecturer in finance and business economics, and Mark Conrad, associate professor law and ethics, respectively, will launch in time for the spring 2013 semester. They follow the debut of a specialization in value investing last year.
Conrad, who teaches sports law, said sports-related businesses have matured a great deal in the last 20 years, and so the need for graduates who understand the basics of business is greater than ever. This gives the program a leg up over sports management programs that are often run by liberal arts or continuing education programs, and may have a smattering of business courses.
“This is the Gabelli degree,” Conrad said. “We are basically saying, you have to go through the fundamentals, come in with the basics of finance, marketing, accounting, management, and communications. And then we’re adding to that specific courses dealing with business issues in the field of sports,” he said.
Students wishing to earn the sports business specialization must complete courses in sports marketing, business of sports media, and sports law, and a capstone summary experience. That final aspect of the degree can be a presentation at a sports-related academic conference, an internship, or a sports travel experience, analyzed in a final paper. Symposia and appearances by experts in various areas of the sports business will also be a part of the program.
Conrad said that New York City is home to a plethora of sports-related businesses, from high profile teams like the Yankees and the Knicks to all the firms that specialize in marketing, advertising, law, and finance.
“The worst thing that sports organizers find in students is they come to interviews and they simply don’t know the business. They do it because they’re fans of the team. We dissuade that,” he said.
“We say this is a business. You have to look at it as a business and if you’re a Yankees fan, and you get a job with the Red Sox, you take the job with the Red Sox.
Likewise, alternative investments are of interest to business students in New York City. Mirabile, who teaches a class on hedge funds, said that the New York Metropolitan area has the largest concentration of alternative asset managers in the world.
The field has been growing too. In the last 20 years, more money is being allocated to hedge funds, private equity, and other investment vehicles that are not publicly listed on exchanges. Endowments and high net worth individuals in particular have been drawn to them.
And unlike in the past, the boutique firms that specialize in them are now giving undergraduates a look. Specialized courses like those in private equity and commodities, which will be rolled out as electives next fall, are rare in the undergraduate level, which Mirabile said makes the program unique.
“With the pressure in the markets for managing expenses and performance, a lot of private equity firms and hedge funds are looking for undergraduate students. In the past, they had no chance of getting jobs in these firms; they only looked at graduate students or people with five years experience,” he said.
The specialization will feature coursework that covers private equity, hard assets, venture capital, commodities, real estate investment management, and hedge fund investing.
Students wishing to earn the specialization will be required to likewise complete three courses covering hedge funds, venture capital, or real estate. A capstone course and project will cover advanced aspects of alternative investment strategies.
It too will be supported by a student organization, a sub-group of the Fordham finance society called the Alternative Investments Club.
Mirabile said the club’s role is to invite speakers to the campus and sponsor skill set training like Excel training, Bloomberg University training, as well as soft skills like interviewing and resume development that are unique and specialized for these managers.
“It’s not the same as going to JP Morgan. You might be meeting the owner of the firm or you may get there and be asked to wait six hours because it’s a busy day in the markets,” he said.