Our Stories

Getting Ready to Follow the Family Footsteps

James Fulham takes a first step toward dream of working with his brothers

James Fulham
Investment Banking Analyst, UBS

Vanderbilt Accelerator 2017

There’s a good reason why James Fulham always dreamed of managing a private equity firm with his two older brothers. Their father (alongside his two brothers) has managed such a firm for three decades.

One of James’s brothers, who already had been working in investment banking, joined their family firm in 2017. The other brother, after spending four years as a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, is enrolled in business school and will join the firm when he graduates. Now it’s up to James. “The dream is closer to being achieved than ever before,” he says, “and I’m very excited about that.”

There was one hitch. James has never studied finance. Harvard, where he finished his sophomore year in 2017, offers no undergraduate classes in the subject. “It was on me to develop the skill set I needed to go into that field,” he says. He decided to start with a summer business program.

Friends who had completed other programs had told James that “they kind of left you to fend for yourself.” But he says, “I had also been told that employers look for those who can fit into teams, so I really valued that skill.”

With Accelerator, James found that completing projects in teams helped teach him a number of other skills, too. “Working with three different teams in four weeks,” he says, “you learn to lead, you learn to follow, you learn to get along, you learn to steer the ship in the right direction.

“I had never considered how valuable team dynamics could be to a business. Now I realize that I would never employ someone who I couldn’t get along with for 10-plus hours in a high-stress environment.”

James learned one other important thing, too. “You don’t need any finance experience to come here,” he says.

*This article represents our previous 4-week programming. We’re excited to offer an accelerated 3-week experience in 2022.

Fun Fact: James is a national champion squash player.

“I had also been told that employers look for those who can fit into teams, so I really valued that skill.”