Alyssa Friedman, the Head of Talent for Cubist and Discretionary Macro, talked to us about how her role at the Firm has evolved over more than a decade, the culture in our quantitative business, and her love for adventure travel.
Tell me about how you came to work at the Firm.
I joined in 2009. I was a year out of school. I didn’t know anything about finance, definitely not quant, but a headhunter reached out to me and said: there’s an opportunity at SAC Capital. They’re looking for somebody to do some ad-hoc projects and administrative work, but there’s a lot of room to grow.
I figured I’d go on the interview and see. I met with the then-head of Cubist and I remember he asked me some hypothetical questions and some what-would-you-do-in-these-scenarios questions. Ultimately, he was looking to see if I had good judgment and could multitask.
How has your role changed since then?
At first, I was doing everything from scheduling meetings to helping with projects. I just never said no to anything. If you’re in a quant group and you don’t have technical skills or can’t program, which I can’t, what are you going to do? I started doing business development, and they gave me an opportunity to do analyst-level recruiting.
I ran analyst recruiting for three or four years. In 2013, the senior business development person left, and the Firm gave me the opportunity to run business development for Cubist. At first, I was like, Me? Are you sure? Do you want to hire somebody else? But I took it, and I’m still doing it. We have 36 separate trading teams in Cubist as of the start of January. I continue to build up the business, adding new Portfolio Managers, building up their teams, and hiring for the centralized teams that support Cubist.
When I started in this role, my boss said I could hire a team. But I thought, I want to make sure that I know how to do every part of the job before I ask somebody else to do it, from coordinator all the way to closing a Portfolio Manager. So, I had one person, who’s still with me, and she helped me with scheduling meetings, gathering feedback, and building a process, and now my team is seven people.
The coolest thing is that we ended up building a really good process for Cubist recruiting, and some of the other businesses have asked us to run their recruiting. So, I run recruiting now for Discretionary Macro, Risk and Trading Research.
What do you like most about working with the people at Cubist?
The people in Cubist are the most intelligent, humble, supportive people I’ve ever met. There’s a really special culture at Cubist. I think that’s why the turnover has been extremely low.
My team plans all the events for Cubist. At the end of the day, we care about people’s happiness, and we want to introduce them to things they wouldn’t normally do outside of work. So, we’ve gone to beer gardens, we’ve gone to museums, we’ve had private showings of Star Wars.
What is a contribution to the Firm that you feel proud of?
A few years ago, I started a group for the female employees of Cubist. I wanted to create a place for women to come together and to just have some wine and cheese and get to know different people.
We brought in female speakers from outside the Firm. I ended up opening it up to all women at Point72, and people started asking questions about family and juggling being a mom, and working and dealing with various situations that arise, or anything that would come up in normal life that you’d want a group of people to talk to you about. It ended up being really special.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t doing this?
I honestly think that I would have ended up doing more or less what I’m doing now. I can’t imagine doing anything else. The most surprising thing to me is that I really like managing people. I’m so grateful for my team every single day. I think I tell it to them every day too, which is weird, but it’s a group of people that I’m really proud of. They work really hard, and we built our process from scratch. They’re extremely reliable. They’re kind to one another, which is really important to me. And I think that anyone who works in the groups we support would speak very highly of the people on my team, so I feel very lucky.
How has the pandemic changed how you do your job?
I had a baby in January, so for me, the silver lining of the pandemic has been more time I would have never had at home with my son, which has really been a dream.
In terms of work, we’ve adapted quickly. All the candidates that we would normally bring onsite, we now meet virtually. We have successfully completed virtual campus recruiting and virtual presentations at different universities. We’ve continued to be business as usual. The Firm is a fantastic place to work. We have stable capital, and access to the best data, technology, and talent. It’s an easy sell.
In 2020, we hired over 50 people into Cubist, which is a lot for the size of the business, and we continue hiring into Macro and Risk and all the businesses that we support. We haven’t seen a slowdown in hiring at all.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
Prior to having a baby and the pandemic, I traveled a lot with my husband. We’ve been to India, Africa, and all over. We’ve been married for five years, but we’ve traveled for the majority of it, which has been really neat. We’ve done so many cool things. We’ve done a safari in Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa. We went hot air ballooning over the Masai Mara. We’ve climbed mountains in Machu Picchu, we’ve been to Iceland and Morocco.
We try to do activities where you’re only thinking about the thing that you’re doing, so I have to clear my mind. I could have so many things going on but when I’m skiing, for example, I’m only thinking about going down the mountain and nothing else.