Mendoza School of Business

Taking AIM

Author: Tom Haddad (BBA '11)



Royal Caribbean Cruises. That was what I associated her with before I knew anything else.

When I was lucky enough to be accepted into the Applied Investment Management (AIM) class in the fall semester of my senior year, I knew that it would be an academic challenge. I’d heard the stories of the grueling workload that lead to many late nights in the BIC. This, combined with the roughly 8-to-1 ratio of men to women in our class, made AIM the last place I expected I’d meet my future wife.

AIM is a unique opportunity for Mendoza seniors and MBAs where each student is assigned a specific publicly traded company and then has to do numerous research reports to determine whether the stock makes sense to include in the AIM portfolio, which invests part of the University Endowment. All of the research culminates in a presentation to the class, who then votes on if the stock goes in the portfolio. Jessica’s stock was Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Working so hard really brought together our class. Jessica and I would spend many hours in close proximity between class and late nights working in the BIC, and I immediately appreciated how she was very smart without ever taking herself too seriously. However, I was shy and not so smooth with the transition from “how do you calculate a PEG ratio?” to “how’d you like to grab dinner in South and talk about anything but stocks?

In the end though, we owe our parents for breaking the ice. At the Michigan game, Jessica and I found ourselves at the same tailgate. She had brought her mom and I had brought my dad and, unbeknownst to us, they got to chatting with each other. Before long it was “they work so hard…no wonder they are both single…at their age we were already in serious relationships…why don’t kids these days go on more dates?” We both tried to play it cool but the seed had been planted (for me at least).

It took until late November for me to work up the courage to ask her out. My plan was to try and catch her on the way out when class was over, but to my dismay she was too quick. Knowing that it may take me a while to have the nerve again, I decided my only option was to lumber after her. Jessica was on the track team, so she generally moved quite a bit faster than I did. Even slow jogging, I didn’t catch her until she was rounding Notre Dame stadium on her way to practice, and she had definitely noticed the loud footsteps behind her. Despite the creepy approach, she somehow agreed and I attempted to type her number into my phone with shaky hands and heavy breathing.

Being in AIM together was like a type of extreme speed dating. We got to see each other under conditions of stress and fatigue. We quickly had to navigate somewhat heavy issues like would we both commit to a job on the East Coast after graduation. I remember that when I was doing my final presentation, she was sitting in the front row. My goal was to make her laugh and I succeeded (she swears it wasn’t a sympathy laugh).

Fast forward to today and we have been married for six years with our ten-month-old son, Jack, and our cat, Aim. As I think back, I’m constantly reminded how one seemingly small decision can lead you on a path that has massive implications for the rest of your life. Although she didn’t recommend investing, we have since been on two Royal Caribbean Cruises and they were amazing.
Tommy & Jessica (Class of 2011)


Topics: BBA
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