Blue Harbour Group
For Yusef Kassim, 39, succeeding in hedge funds has
reinforced the importance of his early opportunities to learn
about business and industry. He co-founded and sits on the
governing board of America Needs You, a national nonprofit that
secures professional internships and aids in career development
for first-generation college students.
Kassims parents came to the U.S. in the early 1970s
from the war-torn West African nation of Sierra Leone. Arriving
separately with nothing, they met through the Sierra Leone
diaspora community in Washington, D.C. Married and still in
their early 20s, the couple attended college while bringing up
Kassim and his brothers. The Kassim household was a small
inner-city apartment that always housed at least eight to ten
people, including aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.
Kassims father earned his Ph.D. in chemistry, and his
mother became a social worker. Kassim went to public school in
D.C. before attending the University of Pennsylvania, where he
majored in systems engineering with a minor in mathematics.
Entering the Ivy League was life-changing: He started
learning about the world of finance and the depth and diversity
of opportunities that awaited him. During his senior year,
Kassim won a spot in Goldman Sachs Groups analyst
training program in New York, working in the equities division.
In 1999 he joined the firms new prime brokerage
Two years later Kassim made a leap of faith and moved to
Gerson Lehrman Group, a New Yorkbased research start-up
that offers hedge fund managers access to sector industry
experts. At GLG, where he was co-head of and built up the
technology, media and telecommunications business, his client
service skills stood out. In 2007, Kassim was hired away by one
of his local hedge fund clients, R6 Capital Management, to head
marketing and investor relations. Within a year, R6 merged into
Eton Park Capital Management, Goldman Sachs alumnus Eric
Mindichs multistrategy hedge fund firm. Kassim was
absorbed into the investor relations team at $8.5 billion, New
Yorkheadquartered Eton Park. Last year Blue Harbour
Group, a $3.3 billion activist hedge fund firm based in
Greenwich, Connecticut, hired him as a managing director and
partner within investor relations.
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