Monica Chandra, M.B.A. ’88, is the managing director at 3EDGE Asset Management, LP, a global, multi-asset investment management firm serving private clients and institutional investors. She graduated from Boston College’s M.B.A. program with a concentration in information systems and finance. A founding member of the Council for Women of Boston College, she received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Carroll School in 2007.
Chandra spoke with the Carroll Connection to discuss—among other things—life after grad school, her daily routine, and what she misses most about the Heights.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is that I get to work with a group of people I admire and I’m constantly learning from.
One of my strong beliefs is that you have to continue to push yourself and make sure you’re always learning. No matter which industry you’re in, technology and the information available to you is rapidly changing. You need to be curious and stay relevant, so it’s very important to be in a learning environment.
I’m lucky to have been able to regroup with people I respect tremendously when we got together earlier this year to start a new company. It’s fantastic when you can do both—be with a group of people you really enjoy working with and continue to learn and grow at the same time.
What’s the biggest challenge facing you in your organization?
We launched 3EDGE Asset Management in January and currently have a team of 12. We are growing very rapidly, which is terrific on one hand, but you need to put the right processes and systems in place as you start to scale. I’ve learned from my previous experiences about the importance of scaling efficiently while continuing to stay nimble.
That’s something we work on every day—we have to try new things and stay innovative and yet be disciplined with processes and systems that will help us grow tomorrow. As we get bigger, it’s important to have a strong foundation that we can grow from. Sometimes you don’t think you have the luxury to stop and focus on processes but in the end it always pays off.
Is there a part of your daily routine you wouldn’t want to give up?
Usually you hear people say “I get up, drink my coffee, read the New York Times, exercise…” I wake up in the morning and call my mom who lives 9,000 miles away in India. It’s one of my favorite things to do every day. I give her a call, even if it’s for a quick two minute catch-up. It’s a wonderful way for me to start my day.
Is there a book you’ve read recently that you’d recommend to others?
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is not a new book. I think it’s been out for about three years, but I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it. It talks about the discipline of not making quick judgments based on prior experience; the importance of making sure that you can be decisive, yet remain thoughtful, rational, conscious, and deliberate—obviously very contradictory but it’s important to put the two together. It’s a challenge that you face no matter what you’re doing, whether you’re raising your children or at work with your colleagues.
What do you do to relax?
I listen to Bollywood music, and if anyone wants to try that out on their Pandora or Spotify, I would highly recommend it. It transports you to a fantasy land. A lot of it is fast moving and fun. My only regret is that I have a very short commute because the 15 minutes I spend listening to my Bollywood play list completely relaxes me.
What causes or charities are most important to you?
There are two that I care about tremendously and try and make sure that I’m both learning and doing a little bit to help these causes.
I serve on the board of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. We’re living in a time when government funding available for cancer research has been steadily declining. 1.7 million new cases will be diagnosed and 600,000 people will die of cancer this year. While there are many forms of cancer you can screen for, like breast cancer and colorectal cancer, there are many other cancers that can’t even be detected until it’s too late.
It’s hard to find anyone these days who hasn’t been impacted by cancer, whether it’s someone in your family or a close friend. It’s a devastating disease, and for all the progress we’ve made, many treatments are still pretty harsh. Finding a cure for the various forms of cancer is an absolute imperative for our generation.
The other thing I’m very passionate about is the arts. We all need a way to have creative expression in our lives. For people like me who tend to work a lot with data and technology and have very busy business lives, making sure we have the ability to step away and really enjoy the creative side of things is extremely important.
We are tremendously fortunate to have an institution like the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I love to find some time on weekends to go see their changing exhibits. And, if you get the chance, go on a Friday night! The museum is now open on select Friday nights from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., and it’s fun to see it in a very, very different light.
What do you miss most about being a graduate student at Boston College?
There is just so much happening in the world of information systems and finance these days and I’m so jealous of students who get to learn from case studies and from the amazing people who visit campus. I went through Boston College so quickly that I wish I could go back and sort of relive that experience.
How did Boston College prepare you for life after grad school?
The part about Boston College that I am so enormously grateful for is the combination of being able to do real practical work while also understanding the theory behind things. I think that was something very unique for me at Boston College. The fact that we were able to go out and do real work for a company—work on solving a real problem for a business while learning at the same time—is a very unique thing. And, for me to be able to combine the two sides was extremely important. I grew up in India and the combination of the two was unheard of there. Melding the practical side of things with the academic side of things is a great asset for Boston College. And it’s something I really gained from before I stepped foot in the business world in the U.S.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I will say that I am enormously grateful to Boston College for the start it gave me in my career. I came to the U.S. as an international student with very limited work experience. Boston College funded my education and provided me with a research assistantship on campus and I wouldn’t have survived my initial years in the U.S. without that level of support. I don’t know who gave the scholarship or who funded it but I can tell you that my life would not have been the same without the support that I received. I’m so grateful for that.
My brother [Amit Chandra, M.B.A. '93] went to Boston College as well and we started a scholarship for students attending the Carroll School as a way to thank the School for what it did for us. I always believe in paying it forward so my hope is that students at Boston College will remember that and get to a point where they can support other students or the School and its mission.
Sonia Furtado is the Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications at the Carroll School.