Bruce Bachenheimer, a 30-something former Wall Street stockbroker who runs his own small company in Sydney, is completing his second year as an MBA student at AGSM.
Bachenheimer believes the schools have been forced to give the MBA an appropriate degree of IT orientation and market focus because they know that people undertaking the courses are highly motivated, intelligent and are doing it either to change careers, make money, or both.
He has been impressed with the way AGSM has organised the management students to interact with students from the University of NSW’s computer sciences and engineering faculty - one of the leading IT schools in Australia - as a sort of intellectual cross-fertilisation effort.
He’s also been surprised at the sophistication of an AGSM computer simulation program used to mimic the real world of stockmarket movements. “It’s a real tool very similar to that with which I was trading $100 million to $1 billion a day on Wall Street,” he says.
But he, too, warns about getting too carried away with the glamour of the Internet e-commerce boom. “When you dissect the dot-com situation you still find the basics of the business model are what applies,” he says.
If the predictions are right about most of us having at least three careers in our working lives, then Bruce Bachenheimer is not a bad example of the new-millennium worker.
He spent several years as a trader on Wall Street, travelled the world promoting a high-tech product for a US company and even opened a business importing teak from the Caribbean. He also managed to fit in a couple of years sailing around the Caribbean islands.
A sheer coincidence led him to apply for an MBA course at the Australian Graduate School of Management, where he is still studying. And it is here, with fellow student Austin Hui, that he launched one of Australia’s most popular share investor sites, StockCentral.
Fitting in all of that while still in his 30s doesn’t seem such a big deal to Bachenheimer. Not that lie’s brash, but the softly spoken American does admit he gets very little sleep. Maybe four hours a night, after he trades on the US markets.
Online entrepreneurs like Bachenheimer and Hui are coming from all walks of life, with a diverse range of skills, experience and qualifications. The classic barriers of age, education and geography mutter far less in the new economy than in the old.
“I was asked if I’d be interested in doing it as a commercially viable site, and I already have my own web page so we worked to do that and founded a company this year,” says Bachenheimer.
Within three months of relaunching, the site was attracting 1 million hits a month. Now there are around 2 million, he says.
“If we grow too quickly we lose the way the site operates…it’s high-quality information and no ramping of stocks. Other online forums are being done but not with as high quality,” says Bachenheimer.
It all sounds a long way from living on a yacht for two years in the Caribbean, although that lifestyle inspired another career. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Bachenheimer says. “That’s when I started the wood company. I wanted to work with my hands.”
A strong desire to see the world kept Bachenheimer busy for several years and also led him to apply for the MBA. He was walking past the Australian consulate in New York and saw a sign offering information on doing an MBA in Sydney. That was enough to trigger an application.
“Coming here was more of a life experience or an end, not a means to an end,” he says.
His work with StockCentral has dovetailed with his studies at the AGSM, which is refocusing to include more e-commerce emphasis. The business school this week launched an e-business incubator, with second-year MBA students running the project with help from faculty and other experts. A number of new business ideas are already in the pipeline.
The incubator will concentrate on the development of start-ups, and although StockCentral has already grown beyond that stage, it would still benefit from some of the expertise, says Bachenheimer.
It sounds as though he is unlikely to be getting more sleep over the next few months.
Bruce Bachenheimer, another anchor dropper, still lives aboard his boat in Spa Creek. He has become an importer of teak lumber. Not old enough to have a mid-life crisis, Bruce has already led several lives—he was a student in Japan, a Wall Street trader, an offshore cruiser, and now an Annapolis businessman. Coming to Annapolis from Venezuela and the Caribbean, he ducked into the harbor to escape nasty weather and decided to stay. In true Annapolitan fashion, he opened his business, Annapolis Maritime Corporation, on the 4th of July 1993.
“I stayed because I liked the colonial flavor, the seaport atmosphere, and Bay sailing. But what really surprised me is how receptive everyone has been. There’s no good old boy, closed preppy network here,” he says. “Everyone from old timers to newcomers have been helpful and friendly to me since I went into business.”
PERSONAL PROFILE: Bruce Bachenheimer / President, Annapolis Maritime Corp.
June 5, 1994
By Elayne Hopkins
Name: Bruce Bachenheimer
Occupation: President of Annapolis Maritime Corp., 1932 Lincoln Drive, Annapolis.
Nature of Business: Direct importer of teak lumber for retail and wholesale customers; offers a variety of teak products for maritime, gift and home use as well as custom mill work.
Personal: Born 32 years ago in Syracuse, N.Y., he grew up in Tuxedo, N.Y. A 1983 graduate of Pace University in Pleasantville, N.Y., where he received a bachelor’s degree in international management, he studied in Japan for a year. From 1983 to 1986, he worked at the Bank of Tokyo Ltd. in Manhattan as an international banking officer and money market trader. From 1986 to 1991, he worked as assistant vice president and senior dealer for Westpac Banking Corp. in Manhattan. He decided to leave Wall. Street to travel. After purchasing a boat, in preparation for a sailing excursion, he came to Annapolis for a boat show, where he learned offshore sailing. For two years, he sailed, visiting the Caribbean and Venezuela, returning to Annapolis last July. He opened his business last winter. Single, he lives on his 36-foot sailboat, Deliberate.
First and worst job: From 14 to 16, working in the rental department at a ski shop in Tuxedo.
Most recent accomplishment: “Captained my yacht from New England through the Caribbean to South American, returning to the Chesapeake Bay — partially single-handed.”
Likes most about the job: “Having to apply a wide range of skills and knowledge to succeed and grow.”
Likes least about the job: “Committing to regular hours.”
Five-year goal: “To create a well-managed profitable business, allowing me to pursue other goals and interests.”
Business philosophy: “To provide the product, price and service I would be pleased with as a customer.”
In his spare time: He’s looking forward to cruising the Chesapeake Bay.
If I could change one thing in my life: “I any constantly changing many things in my life.”
You don’t have to be a boater to know that one of the wonders of the world is teak.
In the Phillippines, pilings made of teak wood have endured 1,000 years. In Asia, they’re making boards out of teak logs that laid on the bottom of the Burma River for 100 years.
So it comes as no surprise that when Bruce Bachenheimer was looking for something special in life, something satisfying yet saner than life as a bond trader in New York, he turned to teak.
Bachenheimer is the founder of Annapolis Maritime Corp., which has begun importing teak to the Chesapeake Bay. From his shop on Lincoln Drive in Annapolis, Bachenheimer has begun selling his wood at a price he says is lower than what boaters usually see.
There are stories in Bachenheimer’s arrival and his wood’s. Bachenheimer, 32, a New York native, grew up in the high-finance world of bond-trading and foreign exchange with a specialty in Japanese curency. On an average day, he might handle $2 billion in yen.
But like many people these days, he longed for a different life. So with the economy going south, so did Bachenheimer — first on a 22-foot sailboat and then on a Pearson 36 Cutter. He stayed two years in the Caribbean and South American ports before arriving in Annapolis last July 4. Why here?
“Annapolis seemed like a good fit, a good place in the middle,” he says.
But how to make a living? Bachenheimer had grown enamored with teak and he had wood skills to boot. With so many boats on the Bay, his plan started taking shape.
Getting rare teak is another story. Malaysia, Burma (now Myanmar) and traditional teak-growing lands have largely been plundered. Bachenheimer worried, too, about the notion that teak clearcutting has sped the destruction of rain forests, a hazardous reputation for a retailer to carry in these times.
He has overcome problems by finding his sources on controlled plantations in Costa Rica and on Caribbean islands that he prefers not to name. In these latitudes, governments have learned that they can sustain a valuable commodity by regulating cuts and overseeing planting.
Locating the wood and shipping it poses more than a few headaches but Bachenheimer’s business is up and running. Besides selling teak for boats, Bachenheimer is crafting tables from his precious raw material and promoting sales of it for the home.
Bachenheimer, who lives on his boat at the Liberty Marina, doesn’t sound like he misses the hustle of New York.
“I wanted to make something,” he observes. “Before, it was just working with numbers.”
Bachenheimer Going For Teak
When the Annapolis Maritime Corporation, a direct importer of teak lumber, recently announced its opening, it brought company president Bruce Bachenheimer a long way from his former job.
Not long ago he was an investment banker and trader on Wall Street.
Sitting in his new office, with his storage and work rooms just behind him, and teak tables and cutting boards at his side, Bachenheimer says that Wall Street is a life that he doesn’t miss at all.
After several years of trading billions of dollars a week, Bachenheimer starting planning his escape.
“I came to Annapolis for the boat show, and to the Naval Academy for their Safety at Sea program.
“I’m not a lifelong sailor. For me, sailing was just a means to an end.
“I wanted to travel and be independent and self sufficient. So I went to a boat show and bought a boat, and I went to school and learned navigation.
“Then, a couple of years ago, I left Wall Street and took off on my sailboat. I spent two years in the Caribbean and Venezuela” going from grey pin stripe suits to bearded and tan.
“I decided it might be fun to start a business. I looked around, and the rents were reasonable and the business climate friendly, and I decided that I would import teak and do some woodworking.
“Having worked all that time just trading, really making nothing but money, mostly for the banks, I just wanted to make something with my hands, to create something. And I think teak is a beautiful wood to work with.
“So I did a business plan, and it looked feasible. It looked like there was a good demand in the area, and the price that I can sell the wood at is much lower than anyone else here.
“I’m directly importing it. Normally you would have an importer, a distributer, a wholesaler, a local distributer and a local retail shop. So you cut out four or five layers.
“And then there’s the environmental aspect. The wood that I buy is all farmed on plantations under local government supervision and exported under license, so its something that I can feel good about.
When Yuppies Turn Good
January/February 1992 (Volume 3, Number 2)
By Susan Barry
It’s 9 a.m. on a weekday and Bruce Bachenheimer, captain/owner and resident on Deliberate, is enjoying his coffee under a palm tree. He is relaxed, tanned, newly bearded and barefoot.
“This time last year? By 9:30 in the morning the major part of the trading day was already over,” said the former Senior Trader from Westpac Banking Corporation, the oldest and largest bank in Australia.
“I would have been staying up to 2 or 3 a.m. getting calls from Tokyo, then awake at 4:30 or 5 to receive the calls from London and at the office on Wall Street by 7 a.m. In those days it was grey pin stripes, now going formal means carrying my shoes with me,” he laughs good-naturedly.
Bachenheimer graduated with honors from Pace University in 1983 with a degree in business and a knowledge of and interest in Japanese language and culture. His first job after college was as a trader with the Bank of Tokyo.
While much of the world is sleeping the banks of the world conduct their business through the banker’s bank, the Federal Reserve in New York. Money is bought, sold and borrowed, accounts squared, fortunes made and lost. And it’s guys like Bachenheimer who are making the deals.
“The change in trading really came about when the interest rates went through the roof in the late 70’s and then the 80’s boom in the market but by the late 80’s, with the global recession, there was a slowdown and the boom was over. The extravagance and parties were over.”
The former Life in the Fast Lane trader now lives aboard his 36’ Pearson cutter, Deliberate, in Great Cruz Bay, St. John. Having thoroughly researched various types of sailboats the Pearson was chosen for her seaworthiness and excellent condition.
“On the way down here we hit two full hurricanes and some storms and she felt like she was on railroad tracks,” said Bachenheimer.
Deliberate made the voyage from Connecticut to Norfolk, Virginia offshore. The Norfolk to Beaufort, North Carolina was on the Intercoastal Waterway. From the ICW to the Virgin Islands the computer navigation equipment died. “So I used the sextant. We sailed into Culebra thinking it was St. Thomas but - hey - it was a 1300 miles voyage and we were only off by 30 miles, so that’s not so bad.
“But the best part of the trip is being on watch by yourself and seeing the sun come up over an endless ocean.”
The Bank of Tokyo in “The Big Apple”
May 1985 (No. 308)
I joined the Bank of Tokyo, Ltd. as a Money Market Trader in 1983, for the excitement and action which is generated here. Another, more personal reason, is that I can maintain my contact with the Japanese language, culture and business methods which I studied at Tsukuba National University in Japan and at Pace University in New York, where I earned my degree in International Management. I am continuing to study Japanese at New York University.
Although trading hundreds of millions of dollars (for one of the leading International Banks in the Financial Center of the world) is exciting, the most interesting and rewarding aspect of my work is the daily contact I have with people around the world and with other traders on Wall Street. Although I expected to be in a highly competitive environment, it was a pleasant surprise to find that the people I deal with are friendly and cooperative. The real competition is “The Market”.