Fabio’s route from field trips to hedge funds

Fabio’s route from field trips to hedge funds

When Fabio Castagno entered the world of finance after completing his engineering degree 11 years ago, it was definitely not the career path he had planned – yet today he is Chief Operating Officer of an alternative investment firm and has just launched his fourth hedge fund.

And while it is certainly an achievement to have become a COO so early in his career, Fabio (OE 1999–2006) says it is not the job title that means the most to him.

“I gain far more satisfaction from the respect and trust that I have from my colleagues who are generally veterans of the industry and have much more experience than I do. Opinions and decisions that I make are heard and acted on; this sense of responsibility is probably what I value the most.”

Fabio went from QE to read Civil Engineering at UCL, gaining a first-class Master’s degree and a Dean’s List commendation for outstanding academic performance.

“I really enjoyed studying civil engineering at university: I enjoy understanding how things work and making something that is greater than the sum of its parts. However, I graduated at the height of the financial crisis, and engineering jobs were scarce.

“I decided to apply for banking internships in my final year, so that I could work through the summer once I finished my Master’s and then take a year off.”

“The first internship I got, I took – which in hindsight, I regret: I think at the time I didn’t have enough confidence in myself.”

Nevertheless, Fabio did the internship. He was duly offered a job and started working for UBS Investment Bank in September 2011.

“I must also admit, I got very lucky at this point; I had a manager who took a liking to me and very much took me under his wing. I owe him a lot. When he left UBS, he brought me along with him to Cheyne Capital, where I got my first taste of the hedge fund world.

“And once again, I got lucky: the fund I moved to had been around for a long time, which meant that they had a lot of processes that they just did because no one had questioned them before. This gave me a lot of opportunity to streamline processes and make the most of what is available, which I really love doing.”

He remained there for two years, quitting in mid-2015 to go travelling for a year with Rhea Wolvekamp, who is now his wife. “We started in Thailand and went to Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, India, China, Hong Kong and Japan.”

He secured a job at his current firm, London-based Blueglen Investment Partners, in January 2017 and was promoted to COO in February last year.

“I joined Blueglen with only four years’ experience working in a fund and having just spent 18 months travelling the world. The learning curve was extremely steep: I had worked at hedge funds before, but never launched one – and we have just launched our fourth.

“My ‘day-to-day’ is largely communicating with various stakeholders – we have quite a small internal team and outsource a lot of the functions that you typically find in a hedge fund. It makes it a very broad role. It’s generally managing projects or issues, which means that one week can look very different to another. It also means that I know every part of the fund, and how it functions, very well.”

Although Covid obviously brought a temporary halt to travelling – which has he says has proved a struggle for him and his wife – it remains his main hobby. “My wife and I met in Thailand while I was travelling with another QE ‘alumn’, Anand Dattani (OE 1999–2006), in 2011.” (He and Anand share happy memories of their A-level Geography classes with current Headmaster Neil Enright.)

“Since then, I have tried to go on holiday as often as possible – agreed that that’s not environmentally friendly, but we try as much as possible in our personal lives to offset the carbon emissions, a potentially futile attempt.”