Great Outcomes, Great Opportunities for Others
Still less did Calkins imagine that he would join a startup financial management firm and propel its remarkable growth. In 2004, he joined Robert G. Moses at RGM Capital in Naples, Fla. Despite the economic turmoil during several of the past eight years, they have grown their initial $2 million investment to $200 million in assets under management.
Now Calkins has made a commitment to fund the Ann and Robert Calkins Family Graduate Fellowship for future Johnson students. He gives credit to Bill Huling for suggesting the gift. "Our family has known him for years, and he's made a wonderful effort to stay in touch," he says. In addition to honoring his parents—his late mother, Ann, was an associate dean of external relations at Johnson and his father, Robert, is a renowned art history professor emeritus—Calkins hopes that fellowship recipients will use their MBA education as a springboard to opportunities as exciting as his.
Earning an MBA at Johnson turned out to be "a wonderful experience" for Calkins, as it had been for his sister Caroline Calkins Heine '88, MBA'90. "The academic expectations were a natural extension of what I'd experienced as an undergrad, but with more rigor and intensity – and it was very quantitative. I needed all of it," he says. He also valued the collegiality he found at the school.
Calkins' interest in finance grew out of courses with professors Hal Bierman, Roni Michaely, and some fellow students. Landing a job at Goldman Sachs, with no prior business experience except for some internships, felt like a validation of his decision to go straight through for his MBA. "The Goldman culture is incredibly strong," he says. "What I took most from Johnson were the academic rigor, discipline, time management, intellectual curiosity, and teamwork – all of which were reinforced at Goldman."
His decision to join RGM Capital came about through a confluence of events. He met Rob Moses through mutual friends, and they talked about entrepreneurial opportunities. Whereas before he was one of some 20,000 people at Goldman, he is now one of three, and he expects the staff to remain small. "I have a lot of direct ownership in the outcome," he says – and he likes that.
RGM has its own distinct investment strategy; they limit their investments to undervalued high-quality businesses with predictable cash flow generation, and the potential to be consolidated. This leads them to certain subsets of technology – such as enterprise software, and healthcare-related concerns, including medical -device and life-science companies – while avoiding capital-intensive businesses, and commodity-oriented and highly cyclical industries. They seek out small, well-managed companies, meet often with their management teams, and perform their extensive, fundamental research over an extended period of time. This level of analysis is key to the kinds of investments RGM makes: they typically invest with a three- to five-year time horizon, and often become one of the largest shareholders in the businesses they invest in.
"I love the intellectual curiosity and debate," says Calkins – habits of mind that were fostered at Johnson, and which he hopes to share with future students through his family fellowship.