Jonathan Schatz

2008 Major: History, minor in Chinese

Currently: Vice President - Investor, Pacific Lake Partners — San Mateo, Calif.

How has being a History graduate from Duke helped shape your professional success?

"Investing demands a deep understanding of a company and a market. The process of developing that understanding is an investigation, similar in some ways to the process of investigating why a particular historical phenomenon occurred. History to me is a subjective, qualitative study of patterns over time. While no definitive conclusion about the future can be drawn from these patterns of human behavior, they provide a useful guide in our decision making. In investing, pattern recognition of what made past deals successful (or unsuccessful) is also a useful guide in deciding whether to invest in the next deal. Additionally, I think History, at its best, cultivates an appreciation for humanity and human behavior, in all its complexity. I work with many entrepreneurs, and that appreciation for people and what makes them tick has been invaluable for me in forming deep, meaningful relationships with those entrepreneurs. Lastly, History, unlike many social sciences, does not presume to offer a definitive answer, but instead subscribes to a theory of bounded rationality - that there is a limit to what can be known and reasoned. Investing (and life) have continually proven to me that at the end of the day, we cannot predict the future, despite our best efforts. History prepared me to approach this uncertainty with a sense of perspective."

What advice would you give students in History?

"Don't follow the herd. You chose to study History - that makes you different, embrace it! You can hustle your way into consulting or banking and end up on a path, but you don't have to do this. There are paths out of a History major besides historian and lawyer. Be opportunistic and take a leap of faith - life is more fun that way, and you can still end up doing well."

Jonathan Schatz
Vice President - Investor, Pacific Lake Partners — San Mateo, Calif.