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From Underachieving Student to Investment Banker: How Did He Do It?

Written by Connor Briggs-Morris
how to be an investment banker

Hear how Joe MacLean used a formative summer experience to transform from an underachieving student into an eventual New York investment banker.

If you’re dreaming of a successful career in finance as, say, an investment banker, you should be listening to the Leaders of Tomorrow podcast. It’s where you can find insider tips and interviews from the 8-figure Student Works Management Program to help you realize your potential.

We picked out an essential episode you can listen to right now. Or, you can keep reading for a recap with some advice on how to make it big in the world of business.

Core Values That Contribute to Entrepreneurial Success With Joe MacLean

In this episode, Student Works Management Program head coach Chris Thomson interviews Joe MacLean, Co-Founder of HLS Therapeutics. He walks through his journey from grad in Canada to New York investment banker and everything along the way.

Starting as a self-confessed underachiever in high school and even in undergrad, it was no small thing for Joe to make it to where he is now. But it all makes sense when you discover that he had an ‘Aha!’ moment early on at Student Works. His summer experience with Student Works served as a major turning point, teaching him responsibility as a part of a “transformational experience” on his road to becoming a CEO and serial entrepreneur.

You might be wondering how mastering a painting business could actually give Joe a real edge over the competition but he’s quick to back it up. He says it encouraged him to take calculated risks and sparked a lifelong desire for learning and self-improvement. If you truly want to find success, he emphasizes how you have to be willing to take an honest evaluation of yourself and act on your findings.

LISTEN NOW: Leaders of Tomorrow is worth a listen for future entrepreneurs, business students, and more.

Joe ended up getting business and law degrees before eventually joining the finance industry. He talks about joining Goldman Sachs, where he worked until 2002, and the eventual creation of his own hedge fund.

His rise through the ranks didn’t come by accident. He speaks on how the skills he developed early on as an entrepreneur allowed him to quickly climb the world of investment banking. Without that base, it would have been impossible to reach so high at a company like Goldman Sachs.

Joe doesn’t hesitate to point out that finance and investment banking are not for those who can’t handle an overwhelmingly hard workload. The good news is that he also gives step-by-step instructions to gain entry into the sector and shares the realities of working as an investment banker.

Currently, he’s the co-founder of a healthcare company with a market cap of half a billion, so things are looking pretty good for Joe. But the only way to find out the crucial habits and values that helped him achieve this success—from his thoughts on networking to taking failure in stride—is to listen to this episode of the podcast.


Check out the full interview

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.