How a Student Competition Helped Dan Dreyfus Break Into Finance

Way back in the 1990s, investing competitions were run over the phone – participants actually had to call in their trades to fake brokers. During that time, a McGill student named Dan Dreyfus placed in the top five for three years in a row, in a national competition.

A lot has changed since then. Capitalize for Kids just launched an online investing competition which makes it easy for any student across Canada to take part while Dreyfus is a Partner at 3G Capital. Today, he is running more than a billion dollars for the firm that partnered with Warren Buffett on the Kraft Heinz acquisition and Restaurant Brands’ takeover of Burger King and Tim Hortons.

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As we kicked off registration for the Capitalize for Kids Student Challenge, I had the opportunity to speak with Dreyfus about how participating in a similar competition helped launch his career.

For him, it wasn’t just a great way to get some trading experience, it was a big differentiating factor when he was applying for jobs. “There’s two ways to get a job,” he told me. “One, is you know somebody, which I didn’t back in the day – I had no connections. And two, is to differentiate yourself in a meaningful way.”

Dreyfus stressed how competitive it can be to get an interview, “these days everybody has great grades, everybody is really smart, everybody has a similar looking resume.” Having your challenge performance on your resume can be that differentiating factor in his opinion.

And it worked out pretty well for Dreyfus who landed a job with DLJ Investment Banking in New York after graduation.

Getting in the top 5 once is no easy feat, but doing it three years in a row is incredible. What was his secret?

“You can’t really put on your buy-and-hold hat because you only have limited time-frame,” he said. “You’re forced to find extraordinarly catalytic situations. The strategy I had was around earnings season. I tried to figure out companies that were going to beat or miss expectations.”

As far as other things participants could do to get an edge, Dreyfus stressed the importance of reading everything you can. “I think the major newspapers like Financial Times, Globe and Mail and Wall Street Journal are mandatory reading,” he said. “Pick two or three industries that you really want to become an expert on. Then try to find companies where you think their share prices are going to move in a significant way.”

Dreyfus will actually be competing in the Capitalize for Kids Student Challenge as a part of our Master Class. Sign up today to compete against students across Canada and see how you match up against a world-class investor like Dan Dreyfus.

Eugene Michasiw

Eugene Michasiw

Digital Marketing Manager, Capitalize for Kids

Eugene uses digital marketing to make good non-profits great. Prior to working at Capitalize for Kids, he was the Marketing and Communications Lead at Jack.org. With extensive experience in social, content, email, copywriting, and design, Eugene is a digital marketing Swiss Army Knife.