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Head of the class

Davis Morrison (MBA ’23)

Davis Morrison (MBA ’23) doesn’t call himself an introvert. He calls himself a massive introvert, a Myers-Briggs-test 100% introvert.

Yet there he was, in front of MBA students in UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Capital Markets Lab (CML), confidently teaching a class to help them figure out the type of investors they want to be. He credits UNC Kenan-Flagler for his career transition from having little finance experience to landing a job in private equity.

In 2022, he entered the CML for the first time, uncertain of where he’d end up. Through the School’s Fundamental Investing Practicum and Mentorship Program, he figured out the best career path for him and dedicated himself to helping his peers achieve the same. In August 2023, just three months after he graduated, the School invited back to teach as part of the Practicum.

He fields emails and phone calls from students looking for his advice on resumé revamps, internship interviews and career paths in management consulting (his former work) and private credit and equity (his new work).

Davis Morrison (MBA '23) teaches an MBA class in the Capital Markets Lab.

Morrison (MBA ’23) leads an MBA class in the Capital Markets Lab

“The easy answer to why I do this is that I love coming back here,” says Morrison. “But I’ve also had a number of people over my life who have shown me how impactful it can be to be a teacher. If you give just a bit of time and help people so that they can do eventually what they can on their own, that goes far.”

At UNC Kenan-Flagler, Morrison found mentors who motivated him to pursue a new career path –and he found something else, too.

“I was never in a fraternity when I was in college, but I found my ‘fraternity’ here,” he says. “I found my people. I feel like I found my place at UNC.”

A new direction

On paper, Morrison’s career path looked perfect.

He earned his undergraduate business degree at the College of William & Mary, where he was a starting member of the Division I men’s golf team for four years — his twin brother, Austin, went pro. He worked as a management consultant at Accenture Federal Services in Arlington, Virginia, spending his last year and half in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. He liked his job, but something was missing.

“It gave me a chance to reflect and say, ‘Do I like what I’m doing?’” he says. “It was hard because the personal relationships at work were gone. I didn’t get to see the managers I really liked. So, I kept asking myself, ‘What is it that I really want to do?’”

He had some idea. Growing up in Charlotte, Morrison’s father worked in finance, and as soon as the family got their first home computer, his dad printed out multiplication tables for him and his brother to review. His father called it “Daddy Math.” Morrison was 4 years old and loved it.

While weighing his career options, Morrison looked at his friends in Charlotte who worked in investment management. He had long been interested in credit investing and was keen to move back to North Carolina.

Morrison joined the Full-Time MBA Program at UNC Kenan-Flagler with little real-world finance experience. He had limited knowledge about the investment space and he was enrolling in a business school that hosts the Alpha Challenge, one of the largest investment pitch competitions in the world and watched closely by some of the most influential businesses and investment firms.

“The MBA program changed my life,” he says. “The first day I took Jim Jones’ (MBA ’06) class, I texted my family and said, ‘Yeah, this is it.’ Right after my first day I knew this was just where I wanted to be.”

It wasn’t just the content of Jones’ Fundamental Investing Practicum class that inspired him.

“Jim at one point basically told me that my resume sucked. The first thing he said was, ‘Davis, this does not reflect how talented you are,” says Morrison. “The second thing he said was, ‘We need to get more experiences on there for you.’ I had to work harder, and Jim was a huge motivator for me.”

Davis Morrison (MBA '23)

Unrivaled support

Morrison got to work. In his first year, his team won second place out of 26 teams at the Alpha Challenge, which Jones founded as a student, for an investment pitch to Domino’s. A second pitch to Ulta made the top nine semifinals.

He landed a string of internships, first at Alpha Theory, then Unum and finally as a high-yield intern at Barings. He continued to get advice from Jones and others, especially Connor Leonard (BSBA ’11), who teaches in Jones’ program; Professor Pramita Saha, executive director of the Center for Excellence in Investment Management; and Professor Mustafa Gültekin, who created the student-run Applied Investment Management course.

During his second year, Morrison had a clear picture of his own career direction and dedicated himself to helping classmates find their footing and embrace their paths in business. Now he talks with students, sometimes multiple times a week, and he’s as direct with them as Jones was with him.

He shares his experiences, what he wishes he had known before jumping into his field, and advises on how to prepare for pitches and interviews. He talks about past frustrations and how content he feels now at Raleigh private equity firm SharpVue Capital.

Right before graduation, Morrison was named the most outstanding capital markets and investments concentration student in the Class of 2023 based on nominations from students, faculty and staff. “On every occasion, he went above and beyond to help first years and make the program better,” one student wrote. “He embodies all the best qualities we would want from a graduate and alumni.”

“The MBA program changed my life. Right after my first day I knew this was just where I wanted to be.”

But what Morrison will remember most from his Business School experience isn’t his own accomplishments. It is when he got to announce the Alpha Challenge winners during his second year: The winning team in the credit competition was three UNC first-year MBAs.

“I got to be the one who said, ‘First place: Kenan-Flagler Business School’ and then watch them walk towards me,” says Morrison. “It was one of things where you’re basically crying while you’re doing it.

“I think that’s what really separates our program from others. I’ve had people come up to me and tell me that they didn’t know that UNC had such a sense of camaraderie. People use the word ‘family.’ It really is like that.”

Davis Morrison reflects on the Center for Excellence in Investment Management at UNC Kenan-Flagler.