Small Firm, Big Opportunities

Tasha Murdoff '02 M.B.A. proves that growth isn't limited to large companies

Tasha Murdoff, vice president – research and investment management, couldn’t haveknown where she would be today when she started working for Sit Investment Associates as an intern in the mid-1990s. A student pursuing her B.A., Murdoff enjoyed helping clients and was happy when she was hired for a permanent position with thefirm. Once she began working for Sit, she had the chance to work in many different roles, because the small size of the firm gives employees opportunities to learn several different functions for their jobs.

The firm’s size also has allowed Murdoff the chance to learn from people in high-levelpositions. Founder Gene Sit is one of her role models. “He demonstrated what hard work and dedication can do,” says Murdoff. “He would expect the best. He was one-of-a-kind and very involved in the community.” Sit passed away in 2008, and Murdoff finds “I miss him every day.” She also credits current chairman, CEO and president Roger Sit with refining her knowledge of the industry through their work together.

As Murdoff’s career at Sit expanded, she thought about how an M.B.A. could add to herknowledge. She chose St. Thomas because of its evening program and the professors who worked in her field. In 2001, she started her year as an investment manager for St. Thomas’ Aristotle Fund. The Aristotle Fund is a $2 million, student-managed investment fund and a part of St. Thomas’ endowment. Financial professionals serve as a board of advisers and as mentors to the student managers. “I was looking forward to working with different investment professionals and seeing how they managed money,” says Murdoff.

As luck would have it, the students were managing the fund during a difficult year, andMurdoff was covering the telecommunications sector. Although she began her year withrespect from her fellow students for her financial experience, as the year went on, things changed. “In class, as I tried to defend my stocks, I was raked over the coals,” she says. “The telecom industry was in turmoil. I learned to sell an idea. I gained marketing skills as the year progressed.”

That tough year for the Aristotle Fund also was the most difficult year Murdoff experienced at work, prior to the current downturn. “The fall of the market when the tech bubble burst was hard. I was not as actively involved with the hard-hit industries at work as I was with the Aristotle Fund, but it was an emotional time.”

Currently, Murdoff is learning more about the international side of the finance industry.While her interests primarily lie with European companies, she is now studying Japanese politics and how party changes in Japan affect investment decisions. She also finds herself in the role of mentoring interns who may or may not follow in her footsteps at Sit. “We sometimes hire our interns, but it depends on openings and the interns’ interests and abilities.” She notes that one intern who was hired came from St. Thomas at the recommendation of Dr. Mary Daugherty, associate professor of finance and manager of the Aristotle Fund.

About Sit Investment Associates, Inc.

Sit is a small, entrepreneurial firm located in Minneapolis. Sit specializes in  domestic and international equities and fixed income securities. With only about 70 employees, “people wear several hats,” says Murdoff. “There is not a set routine at work. You may be doing research, client servicing or marketing. Every day is new. You get the opportunity to evolve, grow and become more well-rounded.” Not only does Sit’s size allow employees to take on many responsibilities, it also leads to a warm collegiality. “They treat you like family. They expect a lot and reward you for it. What else can you ask for?”

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