Steven Gallen Edersheim ’75 and Berkay Öncel ’09
Bridging cultural gaps in a highly competitive global market
May 17, 2010
In a highly competitive global market, Berkay Öncel ’09 (left) and Steven Gallen Edersheim ’75 of Credit Renaissance Partners bridge cultural and economic gaps.
If you’ve ever wondered about the value of an information interview, just ask Steven Gallen Edersheim ’75 and Berkay Öncel ’09. The two met during a fall 2007 Career Center-sponsored visit to New York City that brought together students and alumni working in finance.
They hit it off immediately. Edersheim, co-founder and portfolio manager of Credit Renaissance Partners, offered Öncel a spring internship, which stretched into the summer. When Öncel graduated, Edersheim brought him on full time as a research analyst.
Credit Renaissance Partners is a niche global-investment manager, specializing in distressed debt, emerging markets and small- to mid-sized companies undergoing expansion or market upheavals. “It’s critical that not only do we have a good understanding of balance sheets and how markets work,” Edersheim said. “But in order to be effective, we need cultural sensitivity in the markets where we operate.”
Edersheim, a former English major, began his finance career in 1978 with Drexel Burnham Lambert, where, among other things, he established the company’s Singapore securities office. Before co-founding Credit Renaissance Partners in 2000, Edersheim was managing director of Schroder & Co. Inc., responsible for trading and proprietary investments in global high yield and distressed debt.
“I’ve spent my whole life in international markets—in England, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo,” he said. “The interesting thing is that the education I got at Dickinson was in the history of religions—a sort of cultural anthropology—English history and literature, all of which embody a very international perspective and sensitivity to language and cultures.”
Because of the company's emphasis on building cultural bridges, Credit Renaissance Partners seeks out and nurtures international students with a liberal-arts background. Other recent hires include graduates of Amherst, Bryn Mawr and Oberlin colleges. Öncel, who hails from Istanbul, Turkey, and double majored in international business & management (IB&M) and economics, was a recipient of Dickinson’s John L. King Prize for Excellence in IB&M.
In addition to being fluent in Turkish and English, Öncel is conversant in Russian and Spanish. A typical week may include working with Chinese steelmakers, Indonesian chemical shippers, Greek glassmakers and Mexican retailers, he said. “That’s where a Dickinson liberal-arts education comes in handy.”
“What most business schools don’t get—and why so much value is added in Dickinson’s IB&M program—is that business is a liberal art,” Edersheim added. “That’s straight from the father of business management, Peter Drucker. Yes, you have to know numbers. But numbers don’t mean anything if you can’t bring a broader perspective.”
Öncel has quickly become a member of the Credit Renaissance family. “When he graduated in 2009, his father was unable to fly over from Turkey,” Edersheim explained. “I went down to Dickinson and handed him his diploma. It was one of the great moments of my life.”
“It was one the great moments of my life,” echoed Öncel.