MMF student Daniel Buhler honoured with Peter Christoffersen MMF Award for academic excellence

Daniel Buhler, a student in the Master of Management in Finance (MMF) program was recently selected as this year’s recipient of Peter Christoffersen MMF Award in recognition of his outstanding CGPA and contribution to Desautels Capital Management (DCM)—Canada’s first university-owned, student-run, licensed and regulated investment firm designed to give McGill students invaluable experience in the industry.

“Daniel's leadership skills were apparent from the moment he joined the program, and it was no surprise that his peers elected him as Strategist of the Desautels Socially Responsible Investing Fund,” says Associate Professor and DCM’s Chief Investment Officer, Vadim di Pietro. “His ability to inspire and motivate others was evident in his collaborative approach, always willing to listen to different perspectives and encourage active participation from team members.”

“Daniel also excelled in promoting socially responsible investing at Desautels Capital Management. With a deep commitment to ethical investing principles, he consistently advocated for incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into our decision-making process. We eagerly look forward to following the next steps of his career journey. With his remarkable blend of financial skills and dedication to responsible investing, Daniel is poised to continue to inspire others and make a profound impact on society.”

We sat down with Daniel to learn more about his experience in the MMF program and what’s in store for him as he wraps up his degree.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background.

I'm from Montreal originally, and I did my undergrad also at McGill in biochemistry. However, I was always interested in business. I did a lot of stock investing on the side, and I wanted to learn more about the business world, so I decided to do my master's program at McGill here in the MMF program. As part of this program, I'm also the strategist for one of our investment funds, through Desautels Capital Management (DCM). I’m the strategist for the socially responsible investment fund, so I lead a team of analysts to choose investments that satisfy ESG criteria that we have developed.

What was it that stood out to you about the MMF program initially?

There's a great emphasis on experiential learning, and I thought that the DCM would be a very valuable experience. I'm also maybe a bit biased coming from McGill already and wanted to continue the good experiences from my undergrad. I was luckily able to take full advantage of the DCM program by being elected the SRI Fund Chief Strategist which has been a great experience.

As someone with a background in sciences, what was it that drew you towards a career in finance?

I studied biochemistry, and a lot of the careers in biochemistry are more related to research and while it's very interesting, it's a much more long-term vision. The research you’re working on is very specific and could take decades before you see something significant, but in the business world, it's constantly fast moving and you're always adapting to different challenges. I felt that I was more drawn to that kind of work. I'm someone that likes to keep on top of world events and be exposed to different subjects. In the business world, you're also exposed to many different industries and that's something I was drawn to as well.

Coming into the program with a non-management background, how quickly were you able to adapt to some of the more technical aspects of the program?

I would say that at the beginning I had to put in a lot of work. But before the program started, I tried to do some reading and build a kind of base knowledge of the subject. For someone who's coming into the program without that base knowledge, I would recommend preparing a little bit, but it's still very feasible for someone that doesn't have a business background. As long as you put in the work, you'll do very well. I would say it is also important to come in with an open mind to be able to immerse yourself in challenging subject matter.

What would you say has been the best part of your experience in the MMF program?

I would say it's mostly the people, I think the instructors are all great. Each of our instructors for each of our classes are specialists in that field and you can really see that they're passionate about it. We're lucky to have them. I think my classmates are amazing, too. It's been really incredible. We have a lot of international students and I’ve been able to learn so much from them about different cultures. Also, when I started in the MMF program, I was able to see a big difference between the science students I was used to being with and my new classmates. It was very good for me to be pulled out of my comfort zone and be exposed to new people. I really have learned so much from them.

What does it mean to you to be named this year's recipient of the Peter Christoffersen MMF Award?

It means a lot because when I started the program, I was a bit nervous. I'd done very well in the sciences, but I was a bit unsure about this new route that I was going on, so this kind of serves as proof that I was able to adapt very well and handle myself in this new space which is something that I am very proud of.

What do you hope is next for you after the program?

I'm really hoping to get into management consulting, specifically strategy consulting, because it would allow me to be exposed to a lot of different industries, to be my curious self and to have a direct impact on businesses.

A less serious question to wrap things up, but what are your three favorite spots on or near campus?

I like the McTavish reservoir because you get a great view of the city from the field. Also, the Currie Gymnasium, because as part of the MMF program we had a class basketball team, so it reminds me of that. Lastly, I'd say the McIntyre Medical building just because it kind of reminds me of where I came from as a former science student.

Is there anything else you'd like to add about your experience in the program or about finance in general?

I would say to anyone that's worried about switching from science or any other STEM background to business, to not worry too much. Your study habits are strong, and your mentality will work in this field too, so I'm sure you will do great. Making this change has allowed me to grow a lot as a person so I would recommend to anyone to push themselves out of their comfort zone.

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