Humans of Haas: Zaheer Ebtikar
Written by Michael Xia.
Zaheer Ebtikar is a Class of 2020 Berkeley Haas graduate. His passion for finance and the macro landscape are his main motivating factors to pursue his role as Partner at Immutable Capital, a proprietary hedge fund focused on finding alpha at the global level. On-campus, he was focused on leadership in the Haas Business Student Association (HBSA) and the Afghan Student Association as well as in finance, exhausting the majority of the financial electives as an undergraduate. In his free time, Zaheer enjoys traveling, hiking, weight lifting, and working as a self-taught barista.
- What is a memorable moment you have had at Haas?
A memorable experience was UGBA 195T1, and this was a class with Rob Chandra who, unfortunately, passed away earlier this year. He was a fantastic mentor. He always encouraged students to try new things and explore beyond traditional business pathways. He was the ideal Haas undergrad. He went to McKinsey and did VC work out of pure interest.
One day, I pulled him aside after class—which was difficult because everyone wanted to talk to Rob after class—to discuss plans with him of taking outside capital. Being a trader, this had been my dream for a while, to start my own fund after graduation. I asked, “Rob, I really want to make my own fund, I want to do this full time, how do I go about it?”
He didn’t tell me I’m too young, or to do other things. He said, “Build a track record and show the investors what you’ve done.” That was so inspiring for me coming from Rob, who made his own hedge fund, was a general partner at Bessemer Ventures, and has Berkeley Haas degree and Harvard MBA. Telling me when I was 21 that my only obstacle is myself, not anyone else, was a supremely important moment for me.
- What got you into trading?
At first, I wanted to go into investment banking. But what I really enjoyed about trading was that anyone could do it. In terms of basic principles: you can buy, sell, short, long, buy call options, or sell puts, without needing to have much money or expertise. With banking, you can’t do that. Trading is much more “on the job,” which I enjoy.
- Do you have any long term career goals planned out?
One of my long term career goals is to build out a hedge fund and manage it myself. That has been the case and that’s what I’ll be doing after graduation.
But in all honesty, the main thing I want to do is having expertise in many different things. I want to start out in trading and try to be the best in this market–obviously, everyone wants to. I have a lot of friends that do sports betting and write algos and things like that, and I would want to facilitate that in house. Or, if I have a friend who wants to start up something new, I want to provide seed money or a network that funds him. Thankfully at my age, I have generated a solid network with connections to different industries and different forms of business. Down the line, I want to work with my friends as much as possible to build anything out.
- What building on campus would you say you are?
- I like to think I’m Chou Hall–I feel like everyone would probably think that they’re Chou Hall. But I think I’m similar to how Kevin Chou ended up operating it, I think I’m kind of like that too in the sense that I want to try something different, I want to go for something different, and hopefully achieve that at a young age.
- What’s your go-to order at Cafe Think?
- I wouldn’t pick Cafe Think, but if I had to, I’d usually get a medium mocha and the overnight oats.
- Early bird or night owl?
- Whatever the market makes me do.
- Favorite study space at Berkeley?
- If not in Chou Hall, then at Tartine (a cafe right next to campus).
- Favorite place on campus?
- Chou Hall.
- Favorite dining hall?
- None. If I had to choose, Clark Kerr.
- Favorite place to eat, non-dining hall?
- Imm-Thai. Far off-campus: Burma Superstar.
- Party person or nah?
- When the time is right.
- Favorite class?
- UGB 131A – Corporate Strategy and Valuation.
- Favorite genre of music?
- Rhythm and poetry.
- Worst experience during dead week/college in general?
- Always had a 7pm – 10pm final on the last Friday of each semester.
- What was a “total freshman move” you had when you began college?
- Over-thinking the recruiting cycle.
By Michael Xia