On October 19, 2020, Christopher O’Brien gave a Zoom presentation to Daniel Lawson’s Finance Seminar (FIN422) class. This also included several members of the Student Managed Investment Portfolio. The Finance Seminar class provides senior finance students
with a cumulative learning experience that helps to start their finance career. This is done through a blend of case-based classes, lectures, speakers, and networking.
O’Brien graduated from Indiana
University of Pennsylvania in 2015 with a degree in finance and a minor in economics. During his time at IUP, he was the chief investment officer of SMIP and VP of the Student Finance Association. After graduating from IUP, O’Brien started as a middle
market analyst at Citizens Bank, NA in Pittsburgh. Shortly after, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts, in order to work in the Leveraged and Sponsor Finance group at Citizens, now as an associate. He works within the investment banking division of Citizens
Bank, called Citizens Capital Markets. He has worked on many transactions, including leveraged buyouts and other highly leveraged transactions.
O’Brien mostly finances mergers and acquisitions, so in this seminar he discussed leverage buyouts and how it can benefit companies. He started by talking about private equity to help the class gain a better understanding of leveraged buyouts, and discussed
what private equity is, how it is structured, and how they generate returns. He reviewed the benefits and why they use leveraged buyouts to finance transactions in general. Typically, a private equity firm acquires companies through a leveraged buyout.
Leverage refers to “debt,” so this debt is put onto the company’s balance sheet. That way these debts do not fall on the private equity firm making the purchase, but rather the companies that are being bought out. O’Brien then went into greater detail
showing examples to students.
In the latter half of the seminar Zoom conference, O’Brien talked about how this year compared to the past few years of his work, and how it’s been affected by the pandemic. Due to the mandatory government lockdown, many highly leveraged companies found
themselves with zero revenue and were significantly impacted. Unfortunately, many companies are going bankrupt due to the shutdowns and the lost revenues.
O’Brien answered questions from students and talked about his experience as a recent graduate of IUP. He answered students’ questions about his career thus far and what advice he could have. O’Brien says that reaching out to people and networking is what
helped him get to where he is today. Whether it’s grabbing coffee, just a phone call, or connecting on LinkedIn, most people are willing to hear you out and potentially help you.
O’Brien enjoys sharing his experiences and expertise with current students. “I always enjoy speaking to Dr. Lawson’s finance seminar and getting to know the current seniors. It’s a rewarding experience teaching them about banking and sharing different
recruiting tips, especially since I remember what it was like being in their seat. There are several students I’ve met through this program over the years that I still mentor and keep in contact with today,” he said.
College of Business and Information Technology appreciated the time that Chris took to help students learn more about the field of finance.