Music, TV entertainer has talent for business

You don’t have to read tabloids to know that child entertainers don’t have the best track record for adjusting to life after show business.

Just don’t tell that to Ane Launy, a former TV and pop star from Norway, who will trade the pop charts for Wall Street after she graduates from UBC in May.

The 23-year-old Oslo native is moving to New York City after being headhunted by financial giant Goldman Sachs on the strength of her performance steering a $4-million stock portfolio through the recent global financial meltdown as an undergraduate student in UBC’s Sauder School of Business.

The move to the Big Apple completes a transition out of a music career that started before she entered her teens. After singing and playing in a band and orchestras, Launy was handpicked at age 13 from auditions across Norway for the teenage pop duo, Lollipops.

“We were definitely unlike today’s child stars,” she says, laughing. “We were just singing disco and pop music versions of traditional Norwegian children songs, but being able to record albums and tour around for concerts at such a young age was a lot of fun and a pretty maturing experience.”

After releasing three albums for Sony BMG and performing to audiences of more than 18,000, TV was next. In her final year of high school, camera crews followed Launy and friends through to graduation in a 12-episode documentary-style TV show on Norway’s equivalent of the CBC.

“By the age of 16, I had already experienced what many artists work years to get,” says Launy. “Because of that, it was easier for me to walk away when I grew older and wanted to try new things.”

That’s when Launy started looking at universities abroad. She says UBC was recommended by friends who had just graduated from Sauder. “At Sauder I could get a comprehensive business degree that I couldn’t get at many American universities as an undergraduate,” she says. “Being in a beautiful city so close to mountains for skiing was just an added bonus.”

Launy’s path to Wall Street began in her first year at UBC, thanks to a chance encounter. On a whim, she and a friend attended an information session for the UBC Portfolio Management Foundation, a two-year extracurricular program where business students gain hands-on experience managing a real portfolio of stocks and bonds, currently valued at $4.1-million.

“I was just blown away by the responsibilities these students had,” says Launy, who has since interned with Norwegian oil giant Statoil in China, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Phillips, Hager and North Investment Management. “I was in awe of how these students got to manage real money, work and intern in cities around the world and be mentored by such experienced alumni and business professionals.”

Accepted into the program with six other students a year later, Launy and her classmates steered the 24-year-old fund through some of the most extreme market conditions in recent history. Over the past year, the fund is up nearly 50 per cent, better than the market, which has grown less than 30 per cent.

“Over the past two years, we were fortunate to experience both a boom and a bust,” says Launy, whose team met regularly to discuss investment strategies in new social spaces created by Sauder’s $85-million expansion and renewal. “Experiencing such unprecedented market conditions was an unbelievable learning opportunity, and definitely taught us to be humble.”

Launy credits her team’s success to a network of faculty, alumni, fund managers, and mentors that guide the students through their investment research and decisions. Her chief mentor was Justin Roach of Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, who she met with often for personal guidance and career advice.

“Whenever I had an investment idea or was struggling with something, I had these amazing business leaders who were so generous with their time, experience and expertise,” says Launy. “I just feel really privileged to have had this opportunity.”

Inspired by mentors, Launy and her peers have started donating their own time to causes, most recently organizing a fundraiser for Room To Read, an international charity that builds schools and libraries in developing countries. They have also volunteered with the Down Syndrome Research Foundation and the annual Ride To Conquer Cancer.

“The amount of giving back that I’ve seen over the past few years at UBC was very new to me—you just don’t see the same widespread involvement in Norway,” says Launy. “Seeing first-hand how such busy people make time to give back, and the impact it can have, I hope one day to be able to do the same.”

Learn more about the UBC Portfolio Management Foundation program at ubcpmf.com.

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