Discover your dream Career
For Recruiters

The quantitative hedge fund that quietly hires painters and poets

Long before investment banks became obsessed with hiring STEM students into every role possible, they had a strategy for hiring from liberal arts courses. Liberal arts students bring "left-field, blue-sky creative thinking" one MD opined nearly a decade ago. There was a place for economists and mathematicians, he said, but there was a need for liberal artists too. 

Quantitative hedge fund DE Shaw seems to be in full agreement. 

Speaking on a recent podcast, Peter Bogart-Johnson, a former 'generalist associate' at the DE Shaw Group, who now works for Jane Street, says his ex-employer would seek out people with artistic backgrounds to work alongside its technologists and quants because they were, "smart, talented, creative people who might bring a slightly different perspective to the role." 

Bogart-Johnson worked for DE Shaw research, the arm of DE Shaw that focuses on biomolecular simulations, but there are indications that the broader DE Shaw group, including the quant fund, has a similar approach. Painters and poets aren't hired into core quant roles, but they are hired into peripheral functions - newly hired HR associate, Devanshi Yadav, has won creative writing competitions, for example. VP Matthew Hittinger is the author of fiction like 'The Erotic Postulate.' And DE Shaw admin assistant William Armstrong, who's worked at the fund for nearly a decade, is a well-established fine artist specializing in 'emotional expressions of pain, suffering, sex and death with the aim of challenging the dominant social order.'

Peter Bogart-Johnson's own specialism is abstract expressionist poetry within the New York School. It includes observations such as, "For lack of experience, I cultivate nonchalance." 

Bogart-Johnson says the DE Research group didn't have a deliberate hiring program for going after artists, it just liked them for "technical-adjacent" roles. "The notion was we’d hire these people, they would do this job, then they would go off and become famous writers and musicians, and they wouldn’t be here anymore. But a lot of us sort of got to like it, and stayed in this work over time," he added. 

He himself quit DE Shaw in 2015 and joined Jane Street in 2020, where he works as a product manager. He still writes poetry and says that product managers also benefit from creativity and empathy.  Products and poems both "have a beginning, middle, and end, you would hope," he quips.

DE Shaw just opened its generalist internships for 2024. Paying $9k a month in New York, it says they're open to students from all backgrounds, including art history and literature,  

Click here to create a profile on eFinancialCareers. Make yourself visible to recruiters hiring for top jobs in technology and finance.

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: +44 7537 182250 (SMS, Whatsapp or voicemail). Telegram: @SarahButcher. Click here to fill in our anonymous form, or email Signal also available.

Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

Photo by Frankie Cordoba on Unsplash

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • ke
    23 August 2023

    how do i short de shaw?

Sign up to Morning Coffee!

Coffee mug

The essential daily roundup of news and analysis read by everyone from senior bankers and traders to new recruits.

Boost your career

Find thousands of job opportunities by signing up to eFinancialCareers today.
Recommended Articles
Recommended Jobs

Sign up to Morning Coffee!

Coffee mug

The essential daily roundup of news and analysis read by everyone from senior bankers and traders to new recruits.