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Working at Bridgewater

Michael, Investment Associate

Name: Michael
Role: Investment Associate, Research & Analytics

Background:
I came to Bridgewater three years ago, initially working on (founder) Ray Dalio’s team. I studied history and literature in college, and thought I might become a poet or a lawyer, so I wasn’t immediately sure what to expect from a hedge fund. But I found Bridgewater’s approach to problem solving — starting with logic, then backing that with empirical analysis — to be more familiar than I expected. What was most different were the new tools, resources, and techniques suddenly available to me — Bridgewater’s approach to looking at markets and economies across a long time horizon (i.e. the last 500 years) just wouldn’t be possible in a university setting.

Describe a project you’ve worked on:
I worked on Ray’s Navigating Big Debt Crises book. I really enjoyed that project, because it enabled me to revisit some topics such as the Great Depression and 2008 Financial Crisis — I personally thought I knew them well beforehand but I ended up getting to a much deeper understanding. You often can’t share your research at Bridgewater, but seeing the reception that that work had and knowing I was a part of it has been very rewarding.

What is your favorite part of your job?
The variety that I’ve gotten through my job is unique. Working on Ray's research team exposed me to a constant variety of challenging, interesting questions to answer, from “What causes a reserve currency to fail?” to “What can we systematically extract from last week’s market action?” — all while giving me access to mentorship from people who are the best in the world at working through these types of problems.

The people you get to spend time with is also one of the real joys of working at Bridgewater. They’re a bit peculiar, maybe — but their passion, knowledge, and openness is incredible. The community is always willing to have a rich back-and-forth about any topic: from investment content or the intricacies of market history... to novels, philosophers, and views about the world

What is a failure you’ve faced, and how have you handled it?
One thing I really struggled with was managing others at the right level. It’s one thing to direct people well at the project level, and it’s another entirely to really be there for them, think through what they need to get better, and make sure they’re feeling valued and supported. I had an opportunity to try to be that kind of manager pretty early on in my career, and I really didn’t do it well. One of the unique things at Bridgewater is that people will speak up and tell you when something isn’t working — and that’s exactly what happened. I learned a lot from that experience, about how to manage well, but also how to be a better, more empathetic colleague.

What have you learned about yourself from working at Bridgewater?
I’ve learned how valuable it is to ask yourself, “Am I the best person available to answer this question?” And if the answer is no, to put your ego aside and get some advice instead of pushing through on your own. I’ve also learned to better balance being detail-oriented with the frequent need to just cut through things when more precision isn’t needed.

What are some examples of meaningful relationships you’ve been able to build here?
I have a couple very close relationships with people on the team. I’m especially close to one person on the team that I consider to be an eternal optimist (and who considers me to be an eternal pessimist). We both think we’re just being realistic. Being able to go back and forth with them and building both a professional and personal relationship with them has been great.

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