Employee & Alumni Reviews

Employees and alumni describe their experiences at Brendan Wood International

Ajay Walia
Brendan Wood International’s workplace allows employees to fully develop their skills. Every employee at Brendan Wood is responsible for his or her actions, and is constantly challenged with respect to responsibilities and deadlines. The recruitment process is dedicated to recruiting and maintaining BWI standards and strives to hire well educated and ambitious individuals. All members of the recruitment team are well aware that true talent is hard to find, not everyone who enters the sometimes called revolving door can withstand the steep learning curve and only the ones that are unique survive. Despite current volatile market conditions, Brendan Wood International is still good at what it does. Currently, measures are being taken to find new ways to generate revenue, and develop new products.

Stewart Borden
If you’re confident in your abilities and in the ability to produce, this is a great environment. If you think you may have it in you then this is the place to find out. We’ll bring out the entrepreneur in you, teach you about the capital markets and how they operate, and give you the opportunity to hone your selling techniques. You’ll then to start to learn how to manage people underneath you, giving you all the ingredients to have credible interface with the people running investment banks. Candidates come to an open house where they hear from current employees about their experiences, learning curve and the firm’s products. Generally, after a second one-on-one interview, applicants are asked to make a presentation to a committee. I’m proud of our interviewing process. The emphasis is on the individual and character, rather than simply an ‘experience and skills checklist’. Then we have candidates spend a half-day with us to see if the environment is a fit. This way both the firm and the candidate get to know each other better, and whether the fit is real. Reward is entirely based on performance. This removes the need for layers of bureaucracy and middle management allowing top performers to earn what they rightly deserve. The system couldn’t be more equitable. You never hear the top performers complaining about compensation. We’re in the process of enhancing our business model to have the firm actively participate in the transactions flow (as opposed to being mere observers and recorders of it). We are also slowly transforming our top-notch interviewing force into a sales organization which will enhance the bottom line as well as better reward top performers. While the current capital markets are challenging to many of our clients, it’s often when deals “aren’t coming in over the transom” that leaders start to take a critical look at their business and call Brendan Wood International.

Amanda Knott
It is a high energy, fast paced, work environment with a diverse group of employees with different personal, cultural, and educational backgrounds. The recruiting process starts with an Open House format followed by individual interviews and management presentations for qualified candidates. Compensation is based on performance; you get out what you put in. Just like the financial industry itself, Brendan Wood International is an ever changing and challenging environment. The company has been around for almost 40 years and I am certain it will be around many more to come.

Nora Turkevics
Brendan Wood International provides a dynamic and challenging work environment with a strong entrepreneurial culture. During the recruiting process we take the time to fully explain how things work at BWI, especially the “eat what you kill” compensation structure. We encourage candidates to spend a half-day with us to help them understand how BWI operates and what their role would entail if hired. Compensation is largely performance based which is explained to all candidates during the interview process. You quickly learn if you have the knack for this business. BWI has an excellent business outlook due to the global perspective of Brendan Wood International. The team, especially the senior partners, are constantly exploring and planning new initiatives to expand the product base.

Kim Samuelsen – Class of 2014
It has been a fast-paced track since day one. Starting at BWI I did not expect the level of responsibilities that I was given, which have only continued to grow. Working at a smaller firm like ours is a great opportunity because the lack of ladder-climbing, office politics, and you are not just another number. The work itself can be challenging but it’s rewarding. I imagine that there are few jobs where from day 1, you are speaking to some of the most influential people in the industry, and reaching out to CEOs on a daily basis. At first it was intimidating, but working in an open office space provides a good comfort level that there is always someone around to help you. I am continuously encouraged to go after new clients, knowing that there is always support to help me achieve it. The firm has instilled a culture that it encourages everyone to do well, and will do their best to help you get there. I have learned a great amount in a short period of time, and can only imagine what is in store for the future. You are given a high level of responsibility and endless opportunities to advance – it is what you make it. You need to be flexible and adaptable as there can be last minute requests sometimes which require a few extra off-hours.

Matthew Karin – Class of 2013
The internship at Brendan Wood International is the ultimate professional and personal development boot camp. It has been a challenging experience where you’re pushed out of your comfort zone and expected to function at a high level right out of the gate. Brendan Wood International offers an experience that is extremely hard to come by for a new graduate. Many people out of school find themselves beginning their careers in clerical or administrative roles where there is little responsibility and few opportunities to grow and excel. Brendan Wood is the perfect place for a young, driven, entrepreneurial minded individual to begin their career. Within my first two weeks of employment I was making phone calls to cities all over the globe and discussing world famous companies with some of the most intelligent and successful professionals. There are few internships available to new graduates where an experience like that is possible. I am hard pressed to pinpoint any particular weaknesses during my internship experience. Although not a weakness, any potential candidate must expect the level of commitment and time that this business requires. I would absolutely recommend a friend to the Brendan Wood International internship. This is an employer that will never hold you back and will support and guide you to your fullest potential. Brendan Wood International is not a typical first job that lacks room for growth. The position grows with you and offers unlimited opportunity to individuals who want it. What you put into it is what you get out of it.

Erik Hansen – Class of 2011
The culture at Brendan Wood International is fast-paced, challenging and demanding. Employees that excel can move up in the company and gain experience working on projects that will enhance their career that could not be gained at most other companies. We strive to hire well educated and ambitions individuals. Not everyone who enters the door can withstand the demands and it is only the ones that can handle our unique environment that survive. Each person is in control of how much they make, so those that perform well will be successful. The company has been around for more than 37 years and it will be around for many more years to come.

Charles YangClass of 2010
BWI is a very exciting place to work. I still remember how the business concept and people impressed me when I joined the company in December 2000. The operational system totally changed my pre-conceived thoughts on how to run a business. It is a very innovative and efficient way of operation and it helps people without relevant experience get on track very quickly. All the people working here are very smart and full of creative ideas. Another thing that makes me feel comfortable is the constant learning process that keeps me updated on the latest developments in the market place. As an aside, another reason I like working here is the beautifully decorated offices, especially the red room with its striking Victorian feel. The constant development of new products and clients make the company lively. We are constantly working on new products and personally I think some of them will be very profitable.

Eric BillClass of 2009
Brendan Wood International is a stimulating and competitive work environment; diverse, structured, and always changing. The interviewing process is selective and comprehensive. It allows both sides to complete their due-diligence. Compensation is strictly based on output. The harder and smarter you work, the more money you make. BWI is a small, nimble company that is able to take advantage of opportunities. This company will succeed in some fascinating business endeavors.

Raveel AfzaalClass of 2009
The workplace environment is one of our organization’s strengths. I am a people person so I can not work in an environment where the people are not fun to work with. Luckily, we do not have that problem here. From the Partners to Field Directors, everyone has a good sense of humor and good demeanor. The salary is completely performance based and I would not have it any other way. When I applied to BWI I had 3 interviews which I found to be thorough. I came away from these sessions with a clear understanding of the job and the organization and overall, it was a pleasant experience. BWI is growing in many different directions. For me, this means getting exposure to the various areas of the financial world. I do not think that a person fresh out of school like I was would be able to get such broad exposure to the financial sector at another financial institution.

Eugene Chan – Class of 2006
My experience at Brendan Wood International was characterized by hard yet rewarding work, and experiences not usually offered to younger professionals. For example, meeting and building professional relationships with top players in the finance industry and understanding how to work effectively with them is something that I still carry with me today. In addition, many of the individuals I met and worked with at BWI remain professional colleagues to this day. I can even trace some of my closest friendships origins back to the offices of BWI. I would also like to share my thoughts with regards to Lazarus Partners. In my mind the Lazarus project is definitely a unique experience created by Brendan Wood and the Partners that had nothing to do with “work” experience necessarily, but everything to do with “human” experience. Most of my memories of the Lazarus project during my time at BWI were from the time volunteering with the Salvation Army in Regent Park where we were able to participate in numerous events during Christmas. These events were exclusive opportunities to become part of something designed to give back to the community in a hands-on manner that was both equally challenging and rewarding.

Jon Ruby – Class 2006
The five years I spent at BWI were some of the most educational of my career. I was forced to think, learn to solve problems in new ways and how to work harder and smarter than ever before. A day rarely goes by now without my relying on a lesson learned at BWI.

Sanford Lee – Class of 2006
It is without a doubt that my experience with BWI both influenced and facilitated my career transition from health care to the financial sector. Prior to joining BWI, I had been employed as a Physical Therapist for 12 years. After the completion of my MBA in 2005 I was excited to begin a new career in finance, but given my lack of experience in the sector, I really did not know where to begin. Admittedly, I accepted a position at BWI as a means to gather more information about the capital markets, in addition to making informal contacts on the corporate side. In retrospect, the knowledge that I gained as an entry-level BWI “Field Director” helped to refine my decision to pursue a career in equity research. In the end, I was able to successfully leverage the intelligence gathered through BWI’s investment banking and institutional equity studies with my underlying job search strategy. I believe this was instrumental to facilitating a series of job interviews, which led to my current employment as an equity research associate at Genuity Capital Markets. As my firm is now a client of BWI, I plan to continue to use BWI’s products and services to again facilitate a career transition – this time from Associate to top-ranked Analyst. BWI is definitely not for everyone and I knew it wasn’t for me in the long-run. However, I believe it is up to the individual to use whatever resources and opportunities are available to pursue their dreams. BWI provided me with those resources. I merely took advantage of what was offered.

Brenda Kastner – Class of 2005
Working at Brendan Wood International was the most stressful, exhausting, demanding, challenging and BEST job I have EVER had!! I started working at BWI as a private experiment. My youngest child was in grade 1 and I wanted to work in a job that would use my research skills. I had been a stay-at-home mom who had just finished taking an introductory night course in economics. I knew absolutely nothing about investor confidence, stock markets, debt markets, cash management, or mergers and acquisitions but thought that if I could get an A+ in economics – my Masters degree was in Environmental Psychology – I could learn how to conduct research for Brendan Wood International. That personal challenge lasted for the entire 6 years I worked for BWI as the number of areas in which we did research expanded.

What I did not anticipate was how steep the learning curve would be. It took a very long time to master all the steps involved in conducting a “top quality” interview. Of course understanding the content of the interview helps to reduce the chances of coming across as completely uniformed and unprepared but there are many other skills involved. Like learning to climb through the side window or down the chimney when the CFO’s gatekeeper slams the door in your face, developing a certain adeptness in speaking with and extracting highly sensitive and confidential information from recalcitrant senior executives, sifting through various press releases and websites to find the key people involved in a transaction, maintaining a sense of humour when your respondent gives you five minutes at a time throughout several days to finish the interview which takes an hour to complete, and the list goes on and on and on!!!

What I also did not anticipate was the wonderful way in which I developed as a person throughout my years at BWI. I learned to not take things personally when people hung up in my ear, to persevere in spite of rejection, to handle a difficult conversation with tact and diplomacy, to “drill down” when given evasive responses. I also learned when to back down. Yes, it is admirable to go after that big deal but sometimes you can win the battle and lose the war. Sometimes you have to miss one deal to get the next two or three when a series of transactions are planned. I learned when to keep quiet. Again, it is important to keep the flow of the conversation going at a certain pace but sometimes it is best to be silent and let the respondent say what he NEEDS to say before you redirect him back to what you really want to know.

When I decided to leave Brendan Wood International I knew that my hard work was appreciated and in turn, I was grateful for the opportunity I had been given. I have very fond memories of some of my favourite respondents with whom I would speak quite regularly. I have not been able to replace the aspects of the job that I absolutely loved – conducting research, speaking with people who are directly involved in making things happen, and writing the “story of the deal” – in any of my subsequent positions. It was worth the effort!

Jason Amaro – Class of 2004
The three summers I spent as an Intern learning about investigative intelligence and the world of banking at BWI proved to be an invaluable influence on my career path and helped me realize how information, when carefully compiled and analyzed, can be a business’ most valuable asset. From interviews with dealmakers to debriefings with clients, BWI’s thorough bottom-up approach to transaction analysis particularly imparted how, why and with whom banking transactions are done. This comprehensive analysis can be overwhelming considering all of the elements that are important in a banking deal, but when meticulously compiled, this prolific aggregation of information holds weight- and, quite simply, it shows in BWI’s extensive client list. As an Intern, this constant flow of information presented mutually-reinforcing challenges and rewards. The challenges came in the form of aggregating large amounts of information while maintaining its full value for clients. The rewards came in the form of a comprehensive understanding of deal dynamics as well as learning about where all the players stood in the game.
With the inspiration supplied to me by my fellow colleagues and the constant challenges presented by interpreting an active universe of transactions and relationships, BWI truly proved to be an exceptionally rigorous and rewarding learning experience-one which I highly recommend.

Robert Fear – Class of 1997
My first job after finishing university was with BWI and I was very grateful for the experience. Through my role of performing field research among many different financial institutions I gained direct exposure to a wide variety of individuals working in various capacities such as trading, research, and portfolio management, and achieved a broad understanding of the relationships between them. My experience at BWI provided me with a ‘big-picture’ view of the financial services industry and gave me the opportunity to learn much about the function and daily responsibilities of each person that I interviewed, all in a very condensed timeframe. BWI is a wonderful place to learn a lot about the industry in a relatively short period, and certainly helped me define the type of career that I wanted to pursue in the long run. Since leaving BWI in 1997, I have been working at a mortgage banking risk management firm in New York City and sell advisory services to banks, thrifts, mortgage companies, and hedge funds.