Max remembers lessons at ZIS as “amazing, relevant and relatable, being brought to life vividly”.
From sailing around the Greek islands as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award to hiking in the Himalayas during his Classrooms Without Walls service trip, it’s clear California native Max Lubkeman, Class of 2012 (2010-12), filled his time at ZIS with adventure.
That same enthusiasm for new experiences is evident in his role as an investment banking analyst at global financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard in New York. “You work long hours and need to consistently be on call. It is what one signs up for and was absolutely an adjustment. However, I really enjoy the pace.”
He’s always been fascinated by figures, but switched his major at the University of Chicago from Economics to Political Science because he wanted to pursue a less theoretical degree. “Economics was heavily mathematical and I wanted something more grounded in current events and social structures.”
That’s something he always appreciated about economics lessons at ZIS. “Our teacher, Mr (Joe) Hauet, was amazing. He was very enthusiastic and tied economics to current and historical events so it seemed more relatable.”
Travel was one of Max’s favourite parts of his time at ZIS, and he especially enjoyed trips with the rugby team to play in London, Brussels, Munich and Vienna. Following internships in the LA music industry during university, he attended the prestigious business school HEC Paris, where he completed an MSc in International Finance in 2017. He then joined the strategy and corporate development team at RTL Group for a year before moving to Lazard, where he advises clients regarding potential or actual activist investor challenges.
“After university in the US, I wanted to go back to Europe, partially due to my experience in Switzerland,” he says. “I really appreciated having that diversity of cultures and perspectives.” He also sought the same academic rigour as the IB programme, which he describes as “intense and rewarding”. Those adjectives fit the work he does now, too. “You really have to be firing on all cylinders, and it requires a lot of critical thinking.”
As he builds his career, he hopes the strong work ethic he honed at ZIS will continue to pay off. “I want to be known for being creative and inventive, but also just for getting the job done efficiently and well.”
To current students contemplating the future, his advice is to keep an open mind. “Don’t close any doors. If you have a passion, pursue it – but not to the extent of ignoring other things. I came across activist investing and defense by chance. You never know what might pop up.”
Words Diane Shipley, Photography Jonathan Turton