Alumni Highlight: Kijana Mack '93, Founder, Managing Director, Ashton Global Investment Management

Alumni Highlight: Kijana Mack '93, Founder, Managing Director, Ashton Global Investment Management

Our alumni carry the foundation of their Friends School education with them throughout their lives. Not only did their time at Friends prepare them for college and their professions, but they think critically, make room for reflection, work collaboratively with their peers, and thrive having learned “freedom within structure.” 

We recently sat down with Kijana Mack '93 to talk about his career and the impact of his experience at Friends for the most recent edition of Friends Magazine

How he got here: Attending schools that provided a great education and a focus on ethics, coupled with personal experiences that last a lifetime have had the most impact on my professional career. My internship at Legg Mason in the Private Client Group, along with my MBA from Loyola University also positioned me to excel when I arrived on Wall Street. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Wall Street Friends organization (a networking group for finance professionals of color) which also made a big impact on my career path. Wall Street Friends led me to Moody’s, which ultimately gave me the opportunity to work in both the U.S. and Latin America doing corporate finance prior to launching my own firm.

Current workI am the founder and Managing Director of Ashton Global Investment Management, an institutional investment platform for emerging and start-up asset managers. We provide seed capital to asset management firms to get started and help them grow. You can think of us as a venture capital firm for investment funds, or as some have referred to us “Shark Tank for Hedge Fund Managers.” We are a capital introductions firm with the goal of placing underrepresented and emerging portfolio managers with family offices and other sources of institutional capital. We are seeking to democratize the capital raising process while generating attractive long-term returns for investors.

Impact of his Friends educationThe foundation of the Friends School education is a focus on ethics and the community. This was vital in developing a framework for a rewarding career in finance. I think more specifically, being able to learn another language fluently, as well as the heavy focus on college-preparatory writing and math had a major impact. The Friends class structure also provided for constant engagement and interpersonal skills which are vital even in today’s digital economy.

Notable Friends School experience: I have always valued the experiences I had at the Saturday economics class taught by Tad Jacks III H’05. This class during Middle School got me interested in economics and finance at an early age. I would also say that the experiences I had during my time as co-president of the student body and the Black Student Union, and on the Friends championship sports teams, impacted my career professionally.

Memorable Friends teacherThere were many teachers that are memorable as I think about my career. Tom Buck, Upper School English and drama teacher 1987-2021, was key to showing me the importance of writing and communicating well. I really think it’s a real separator in high-touch industries like finance. In today’s global economy, learning Spanish fluently from Tom Binford, Upper School Spanish, has been priceless and enabled me to work internationally and enter new markets quite easily. The late Dean Pappas, Upper School physics, retired 2008, was also a great mentor who encouraged me to push the envelope and try new things.