Welcome to the Real World

Ashley Armstrong

The thought of the real world scares us all. Where the hell are we going? What the hell are we doing? And how the hell do we get there? Fortunately for us, there are people out there that have been down this path and have lived to tell the tale. One such man is Alan I. Greene, Colgate class of 1951. After Colgate, Greene took a job at the family business of David J. Greene & Company and has been there ever since. After giving a lecture this past Monday titled “What is Investing all About?”, Mr. Greene shared his insight and experiences about Colgate and beyond.

AA: First off, what was your major at Colgate?

AG: Economics

AA: And what activities were you a part of while at Colgate? Did you join any clubs, a fraternity, anything like that?

AG: The only real activity that I had when I was at Colgate was that I was part of the golf team for a couple years, but that was essentially it. The school was a lot different then. It was an all-male school, it was rather cliquey, I thought, at the time. There weren’t that many activities that you now have. It was a completely different atmosphere.

AA: That’s understandable. So did you know what you wanted to do when you were at school? Did you have any idea as to what you wanted after graduation?

AG: Yeah, pretty well. I had been doing work in our family office, in the investment business and I was sort of destined to go into that. I mean, I pretty much knew.

AA: So if you could just describe … exactly what it is that you do now?

AG: Well, our firm is an investment management firm in New York. We manage about two and a half billion dollars divided between high network individuals and institutional accounts. In the trade, we are known as a very disciplined value manager… last night I explained the difference between value and growth and things of that nature, and so that’s what we do. We have about 35 people, half of whom are professionals and the professionals are devoted to both researching ideas that we put our clients’ money into and managing the accounts, and that’s all we do. And right now, I have been the C.E.O., a managing partner for over 30 years and sort of helped build up the asset base of the firm; and then, my son is in the business; he’s a Colgate graduate…

AA: And I heard you have a grandson here as well?

AG: Right, we have a grandson here too. And [my son] became the C.E.O. about five years ago and I moved upstairs to be chairman of our investment committee, where I now sit. So, my days, essentially, are overseeing the firms investment positions, running advice about buy, sell or hold and creating ideas or coming up with new ideas for potential investment.

AA: Long, hard d