Managing a fund really challenges the way you think about risk and your assumptions. Like biology or life sciences, the market continuously adapts and responds to inputs in different ways through time.Derrick Tzau Wasatch Global Investors
Derrick Tzau, MSF ’09, was always interested in investing but early in his career he decided that science was his calling.
‘At that time, biology, life sciences, were interesting areas,’ he explained. After graduating from Canada’s University of British Columbia with a bachelor’s in pharmaceutical sciences, Tzau worked in various healthcare settings in Canada and the US.
Six years in, ‘and I was not as excited in a healthcare career as I was initially,’ Tzau said. It was then that he decided to revisit his interest in investing, and found himself in the office of Jot Yau, Albers’ department chair for Finance. Could someone like Tzau, a registered pharmacist, apply for the Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program and, more importantly, could he make a career in finance?
Yau saw possibilities. ‘He told me that I didn’t come with a conventional background, and that was an asset.’ The challenge was getting up to speed from a technical point of view and working towards his Chartered Financial Analyst designation. Tzau said those years at Albers were definitely an uphill battle but also ‘a unique experience with value’.
He graduated in 2009 and went straight to work at Seattle’s WHV Investments. As a research associate and assistant portfolio manager on the firm’s Small Cap and Micro-Cap strategies with a sector focus in healthcare, his background in healthcare supply chain distribution was a great fit.
Data from RockHealth
His subsequent roles were ‘less healthcare and more investing in international equity across sectors’. Today, he is an Associate PM and helps manage a $3 billion fund for Salt Lake City-based Wasatch Global Investors, a fund where healthcare is one of the core areas of the portfolio.
At the time of this interview, the pandemic was still roiling markets. Neither Tzau nor Yau could have foreseen how COVID-19 would change lives, economies, and the world. But it has dawned on Tzau how prescient Yau was in seeing how his healthcare expertise could be beneficial someday.
‘Having a science or healthcare background combined with an MSF helped form a very rewarding career in the industry,’ he said. ‘Managing a fund really challenges the way you think about risk and your assumptions. Like biology or life sciences, the market continuously adapts and responds to inputs in different ways through time. The faster you realize that the better you will be at navigating and controlling risk.'
‘I knew I had to know the language [of finance] to speak the language. The MSF program not only helped me understand the world I was entering, it also made me realize I could be made for it.’
The Master’s in Finance program at Albers is celebrating its 30th year.