BlackRock’s Ludwig Marek Scouting Out Finance-minded River Hawks

Ludwig Marek poses with two UML hockey players and four faculty and staff members Image by Ed Brennen
Alum Ludwig Marek '98 visits with UML hockey players Derek Osik, left, and Colin O'Neill at the Pulichino Tong Business Center. Behind them are, clockwise from back left, Dean Sandra Richtermeyer, Assoc. Prof. of Economics David Kingsley, Finance Dept. Chair Steven Freund and Career Services Director Kerry Willard Bray.

By Ed Brennen

As a managing director at BlackRock, a global investment management firm and the world’s largest asset manager, Ludwig Marek ’98 appreciates the value of data.

It’s something the Swiss native learned almost 25 years ago as a member of the UMass Lowell men’s hockey team.

“I remember our coach, Bruce Crowder, had a saying: The numbers don’t lie,” says Marek, who recalls Crowder waving his stat sheet at him and pointing out things like penalty minutes and plus-minuses.

“I was like, ‘Dude, what is this? Statistics?’” says Marek, who majored in English literature while playing three seasons for the River Hawks. “But it’s true. The data doesn’t lie. The data will back up what you’re doing. And data has become the most expensive commodity in the financial industry.”

That was among the insights that Marek shared with several current UML hockey players interested in finance careers during a recent visit to the Pulichino Tong Business Center – a visit arranged by Manning School of Business Dean Sandra Richtermeyer and Career Services Director Kerry Willard Bray.

Marek, who was in town for the hockey program’s annual fundraising golf tournament, is currently head of U.S. short duration product strategy at BlackRock in New York City. He joined the firm, which manages $6.84 trillion in assets, in 2013, following stints at Citi Capital Advisors, Goldman Sachs and Knight Capital Group.

After meeting Richtermeyer at an alumni event last year in New York, Marek realized that BlackRock lacked a pipeline to recruit students from his alma mater for summer internships and full-time analyst positions.

Ludwig Marek speaks to hockey players about working in finance Image by Ed Brennen
BlackRock Managing Director Ludwig Marek makes a point while speaking to students and faculty at the Pulichino Tong Business Center.

“There’s such a diverse talent pool here that we should be tapping into,” says Marek, who hopes to see résumés from UML hockey players in particular. “As an alum, and knowing the discipline that Norm (Bazin) as a coach puts into the system, there’s got to be a useful way to leverage that.”

Members of the men’s hockey team have distinguished themselves in the classroom as well as on the ice. Thirteen River Hawks were named All American Scholars by the American Hockey Coaches Association this year, the most of any Hockey East program. The team also earned the university's Bob Griffin Academic Award with the highest grade point average, 3.67, among men's teams.

Derek Osik, a sophomore forward for the River Hawks who’s majoring in economics, appreciated hearing from an alum who has gone on to a successful career after his playing days were through.

“Such a small percentage of guys make a lasting career out of the sport, so it’s important to have a backup plan,” says Osik, a Shrewsbury native. “It was really nice to hear from someone who went to UML and played hockey like I’m doing now, and is now very successful in the industry that I’m interested in. It gives me a lot of confidence.”

Teammate Colin O’Neill, a senior business administration major from Odenton, Md., agrees.

“You don’t really know what to expect after college, so hearing from someone who’s been through it was definitely a cool experience,” says O’Neill, a forward who netted three goals and five assists in 34 games last season. “Hearing how other UML students have done so well gives you confidence when you’re looking for a job.”

Marek played six seasons of professional hockey, primarily in his native Switzerland. In 1992-93, the year before he came to UML, Marek had 31 goals and 43 assists for the Brockville Braves of the Canadian Junior Hockey League.

Ludwig Marek speaks with Dean Sandra Richtermeyer Image by Ed Brennen
Manning School Dean Sandra Richtermeyer presents Ludwig Marek with a thank-you gift after his talk.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in English literature (with a minor in art history) from the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Marek became a freelance travel and financial journalist for Reuters and Bloomberg. In 2007, he earned a master’s degree in economic policy management from Columbia University and set out on a career in finance.

“Some of these leaps, when you do them, you actually don’t know where you’ll end up,” says Marek, who also spoke with players at the golf tournament. “It’s like on a submarine, when you look out the periscope and all you see is waves. You think you know where you’re going, but it’s still very difficult.”

Marek says that if students want to go into asset management, they should understand three things: the product, the market and the calendar of monthly macroeconomic data releases.

“That’s a triangle that I’m asking every single person on my team to understand,” says Marek, who urges students to take advantage of the Bloomberg terminals in the Manning School’s trading room. “Get acquainted with it and understand what matters. And be very selective about the publications you choose. Sit down and take the time to not just read, but to read between the lines.”