Pamplin senior and SEED co-CEO talks investing on CNBC
September 17, 2015
Kaley Burlingame, of Arlington, Virginia, a Virginia Tech senior majoring in accounting and finance in the Pamplin College of Business, made her national television debut last month on CNBC, a cable channel focused on business news.
She did so well, as one of three panel participants on the Retail Investor Roundup segment of CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Aug. 31, that she was invited back for a second appearance, scheduled at 4 p.m. today.
“I frequently watched the hosts, Kelly Evans and Bill Griffeth, so it was really cool to be able to actually talk to them, the people I had been learning from for a couple of years,” she said.
Burlingame serves as co-CEO of SEED (Student-managed Endowment for Educational Development), a student-run investor group that manages a multimillion-dollar stock portfolio for the Virginia Tech Foundation.
She has been involved with SEED since the second semester of her freshman year — something she said was a long shot her first year on campus. Now, as co-CEO, she helps oversee the approximately 30 student members of the group.
During the three-minute television segment last month, Burlingame was asked about her stock picks. She explained that SEED does not comprise day traders, but rather the student investors look for investment opportunities to hold on to longer.
“We look for undervalued companies, a diamond in the rough,” she explained.
As SEED co-CEO, Burlingame hears pitches from student analysts about proposed stocks to add to the group’s investment portfolio. Burlingame said in the television interview that her eyes were on American Airlines and Citigroup as potential investments.
The interview was arranged over the summer by another member of SEED who knew a CNBC intern. A producer contacted Burlingame in July, and she was interviewed in August at the NBC affiliate station in downtown Roanoke.
“At her age and stage, to be that poised on national television is remarkable. Many people would freeze,” said Randy Billingsley, an associate professor of finance and co-advisor of SEED.
Other schools have student-managed funds, but not on the same scale as Virginia Tech’s, which is currently valued at more than $5 million. SEED began in 1993 with $1 million and is now believed to be the largest student-run fund operating as an extracurricular activity.
“We are really grateful,” Billingsley noted. “The Virginia Tech Foundation didn’t have to do this. They are very clear on the fact that their return isn’t just the monetary gain of the investment, but the long-term educational benefit to the students.”
“Other undergraduate funds have a couple hundred thousand dollars. We are given much more responsibility at Virginia Tech,” Burlingame said.
She relishes the fluidity of the financial world.
“No day is really the same. For me, that is exciting — to be on your toes every day,” Burlingame said.
SEED has by far been the best part of Burlingame’s experience at Virginia Tech, and it helped her land a prestigious internship at accounting and professional services firm KPMG in Chicago.
“It is real world experience. We are investing real money … at the end of the day, we are doing real work. The endowment fund is our client. It is a real job,” Burlingame said.
She devotes on average 10 to 15 hours per week on SEED duties, which is already paying off. Her senior year is just beginning and she already had received one job offer, which she has not decided whether or not to accept.
Billingsley said he is not surprised about Burlingame’s job offer; SEED participants typically land competitive job placements based on internship experiences. He further described Burlingame as a capable leader.
“She is bright,” he said. “She is a really effective communicator. Like a lot of leaders, she has high standards, but she really does not hold anybody to standards she doesn’t adhere to herself.”
Watch Burlingame’s first “Closing Bell” interview online.