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Cultivating Courage

Sands Capital prides its open and entrepreneurial culture as a cornerstone of its success. Five former Sands Capital interns spoke about their collaborative learning experiences throughout their internship and onto their full-time roles.




August 2023

Senior Research Associate Han Du remembers his first Monday morning meeting as an intern in the summer of 2019. In a large conference room, known internally as “the war room,” research analyst Daniel Pilling described why semiconductor maker Texas Instruments could be a compelling investment. Han was intrigued by Daniel’s obvious excitement as he discussed the company’s competitive position, its management, and how he believed Texas Instruments could create value for Sands Capital’s clients. For the first time, Han saw how he could apply what he learned in school.

Throughout its 30-year history, Sands Capital has honed its brand of deep fundamental research, employing what it calls its six criteria that serve as a critical filter for investment opportunities. Like Daniel, research associates and analysts spend months—even years—analyzing all aspects of a company. Based on their recommendations, Sands Capital portfolio managers decide if the company fits into one of the firm’s strategies. Former interns who have transitioned into full-time roles at Sands Capital say the firm’s rigorous investment research process, open culture, and mentorship helped them develop their investment skills and have given them a deep appreciation for their colleagues and the firm’s dedication to its mission to add value and enhance the wealth of its clients with prudence over time. In cultivating new talent, Sands Capital tries to empower future generations of investment professionals who will help it to continue to grow over the next 30 years.

A Pipeline to Talent

Sands Capital’s internship program is an important example of the firm’s commitment to discovering and developing talent. Many interns—most of whom are still undergraduates—find the access Sands Capital provides to all aspects of investment culture eye-opening as they learned how to research companies, develop and maintain relationships with clients, and support the firm’s operations.

Scott Headd, who began his journey as an investment intern in the summer of 2011, is now a senior director of client relations. As an intern, he had researched potential investment opportunities in consumer products, such as Under Armour, Nestlé, and Lululemon. During his internship, he had the opportunity to attend Under Armour’s annual meeting at its headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. With other shareholders, Scott got a chance to hear Under Armour’s executive team review the year and discuss financial expectations and what they expected for the industry.

Even as an intern, Scott felt that he was encouraged to develop expertise in individual companies by digging into their earnings reports and talking to industry experts.

While Scott moved to J.P. Morgan Private Bank before rejoining Sands Capital in 2021, his experience at Sands Capital confirmed his interest in asset management and kickstarted his career.

For many, the internship experience at Sands Capital launched their journey in the field of investment management. Over the years, Sands Capital has designed its program to introduce students—aspiring to work in asset management—to the tools of the trade. Interns work on teams across the company, learning how to build financial models, conduct industry research, make investment recommendations, and write thought leadership pieces to help enhance the firm’s image and its brand of innovative growth investing.

Senior Research Associate Pat DiTondo, CFA, recalls that his first foray into investment management as an intern at Sands Capital gave him the opportunity to use the skills he learned in his college investment society. Under the guidance of Senior Research Analyst Matt Luneberg, CFA, he learned to build financial models by weaving together historical company data, metrics, and assumptions. He also joined research analysts and associates on company calls. Together they conducted competitor surveys and looked at investment opportunities across the consumer industry, such as in food delivery.

During summers at Sands Capital, interns work side by side with industry veterans, learning firsthand how to conduct comprehensive research, evaluate investment opportunities, and make informed decisions. Han has fond memories of the first days of his internship when he worked under the guidance of Research Analyst Brian Keegan, CFA, who also happened to start his career as a Sands Capital research intern in 2010. “He was really generous with his time,” recalls Han, recounting how the two spent hours discussing new investment opportunities and what makes companies attractive. Brian trained Han in Excel modeling. He also provided feedback on his industry research and investment project throughout his internship journey.

Brian helped Han put the six criteria into practice. He examined everything from the company’s management quality to its sales strategies. “I remember knocking on his door, a couple of times a day sometimes, to ask questions,” says Han. “He was always willing to discuss my ideas with me. He made me feel like my ideas were important and that my contributions were valuable.”

Sands Capital’s commitment to mentorship extends beyond the internship program. Like other research associates who assist specific analysts, Han learned from Brian as he moved into his full-time role a year later, in 2020, after graduating from college. Working with a familiar face helped Han have a smooth onboarding process. He rejoined the firm as a full-time research associate during the early days of the pandemic when the staff was acclimating to a new remote culture. He and Brian rekindled their bond, scheduling regular Zoom calls.

Research associates like Han typically work with analysts for two to four years, and the apprenticeship-like program creates a comfortable environment for them to ask questions and share their ideas.

Fostering an Open Culture

Throughout its 30-year history, Sands Capital has found that the best decisions are made in teams of passionate professionals who freely share ideas and investment knowledge.

The firm leverages the collective wisdom of staff across teams. This collaborative approach enhances the firm’s ability to identify investment opportunities and mitigate risks. Research analysts present new investment opportunities at the firmwide Monday morning meetings, informing all staff of company decisions and welcoming their feedback.

Sands Capital’s commitment to creating an open culture ensures that interns have access to valuable learning opportunities and professional growth from day one. For example, interns can attend portfolio companies’ onsite visits, vetting sessions, and client calls. Interns are also invited to meet with all levels of staff, including executive team members, to learn about all aspects of Sands Capital.

During her internship on the global ventures team in 2019, Christy Steele, now a principal at Sands Capital Ventures, attended a board meeting for a portfolio company. “I found it fascinating to see how a board operates and to hear the boardroom discussion on multiple topics, including the sales pipeline, product development, and financial projections,” she says.

Before getting her MBA, Christy worked as a photo editor and media producer for 10 years. As she looked to break into venture capital, her internship at Sands Capital Ventures provided her with access to portfolio companies. She learned how to research and evaluate startups. The Ventures partners helped her understand how corporate boards function and how to work closely with portfolio companies. The hands-on experience of meeting founders and evaluating startups during her internship confirmed her interest in venture capital, an area where she believes she will be able to constantly learn and stay at the forefront of new technology.

Sands Capital’s first technology intern—now Senior Software and Cybersecurity Support Engineer Jason Yared—says he was surprised by the impact he had even as an intern. He assisted with the migration of local software to the cloud, where it is still in use today. He has also continued to refine other projects he had started as an intern. In addition, he traveled with Chief Technology Officer Ryan Bateman to a cybersecurity conference. For Jason, this is especially valuable because he received access to industry experts and exchanged ideas with his peers in the cybersecurity field.

This summer, Han is managing interns for the first time. In addition to continuing his coverage of industrial companies and other sectors, he is guiding investment interns through the intricacies of financial modeling and other investment processes. Throughout this experience, he says he felt a renewed appreciation of Brian’s patience and dedication. “Brian’s guidance made all the difference. He gave me the courage to share my ideas and grow as an associate. I hope to offer the same type of guidance to others.”


The views expressed are the opinion of Sands Capital and are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendations, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The views expressed were current as of the date indicated and are subject to change. This material may contain forward-looking statements, which are subject to uncertainty and contingencies outside of Sands Capital’s control. Readers should not place undue reliance upon these forward-looking statements. There is no guarantee that Sands Capital will meet its stated goals. All investments are subject to market risk, including the possible loss of principal. Past performance is not indicative of future results. A company’s fundamentals or earnings growth is no guarantee that its share price will increase. References to companies provided for illustrative purposes only. The specific securities identified and described do not represent all of the securities purchased, sold, or recommended for advisory clients. There is no assurance that any securities discussed will remain in the portfolio or that securities sold have not been repurchased. You should not assume that any investment is or will be profitable. As of August 3, 2023, Texas Instruments was held in Global Leaders, Global Shariah, Select Growth, Select Leaders, and Technology Innovators. Lululemon, Under Armour, and Nestlé were not held in any Sands Capital strategies.

This material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer, invitation, or recommendation to buy, sell, subscribe for, or issue any securities. The material is based on information that we consider correct, and any estimates, opinions, conclusions, or recommendations contained in this communication are reasonably held or made at the time of compilation. However, no warranty is made as to the accuracy or reliability of any estimates, opinions, conclusions, or recommendations. It should not be construed as investment, legal, or tax advice and may not be reproduced or distributed to any person. 

In the United Kingdom, this communication is issued by Sands Capital Advisors – UK Ltd (“Sands UK”) and approved by Robert Quinn Advisory LLP, which is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”). Sands UK is an Appointed Representative of Robert Quinn Advisory LLP. This material constitutes a financial promotion for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (the “Act”) and the handbook of rules and guidance issued from time to time by the FCA (the “FCA Rules”). This material is for information purposes only and does not constitute an offer to subscribe for or purchase of any financial instrument. Sands UK neither provides investment advice to, nor receives and transmits orders from, persons to whom this material is communicated, nor does it carry on any other activities with or for such persons that constitute “MiFID or equivalent third country business” for the purposes of the FCA Rules. All information provided is not warranted as to completeness or accuracy and is subject to change without notice. This communication and any investment or service to which this material may relate is exclusively intended for persons who are Professional Clients or Eligible Counterparties for the purposes of the FCA Rules and other persons should not act or rely on it. This communication is not intended for use by any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to local law or regulation.

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