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Alumni Profile - Khadir Richie

Khadir Richie

Khadir Richie received his BS  in Electrical Engineering from Texas ECE. He went on to earn an MBA from the presitigous Wharton School at Penn. He is the Chief Investment Officer at Richie Capital Group in Austin, Texas. We sat down with Khadir to talk about his time in ECE and transitioning from engineering into the business and finance world.

Tell me a little but about what you are doing now.

After almost 20 years away from Texas, my wife and I moved back to Austin in 2018. We have a full house with a one-year old son, who is our pride and joy, and two dogs. Thus far, my career has straddled the worlds of technology and finance through roles in consulting, investment banking, and investment management.In 2015, I decided to fully focus on my passion for investing, and I launched Richie Capital Group. We invest in public equities on behalf of institutions and individuals with a goal to help clients grow their assets over time. As the firm reached a point where it was ready to grow, I decided that it would be wonderful to set our anchor back “home” in Austin.

You successfully transitioned into a business leader. How does your experience in engineering help you in your current position?

My career has revolved around technology as tech has really been the common thread in most of my career stops. As an investor, to be able to inherently understand the technologies we are investing in down to the 1s and 0s, is an advantage. What I gained from the UT Engineering program extends beyond the textbook learning. The engineering program taught me how to think and how to break down complex problems into bite sized pieces. That has been invaluable. And for all current engineering students, please know that regardless of your career path, when employers see your engineering degree on your resume, it is attractive because it speaks volumes about your inherent abilities, intelligence, and grit. Don’t discount that.

What prompted you to pursue your MBA. Did you know you wanted to pursue an MBA from the time you started your undergraduate work?

When I started my undergraduate work, I didn’t even know what an MBA was. I just knew that I loved technology and so Electrical Engineering was my logical path. I also knew the engineering degree would provide me with many career options. After my sophomore year, I began a series of three summer internships at Motorola. Each summer, I was given options on which group I wanted to spend the summer with.  Over time, I saw that my curiosity was drifting towards the business side of technology. Additionally, I took an Engineering Economics class where I learned about the time value of money.  That fueled my curiosity about both business and investing.  Combining my engineering degree with an MBA seemed to be a great career path.

Who has been a major influence on your life?

I have many mentors who have been extremely impactful. However, my Dad has easily had the biggest influence on my life. Many years ago, he fell in love with my Mom and took me as part of a package deal. He adopted me when I was 4 and gave me his last name. He taught me values, discipline, and how to throw a baseball. When I was in college, he discovered that I had some summer internship money sitting in a checking account. He thought it wiser to put the money to work, and so he instructed me to take the money to Merrill Lynch and tell them to put the money into a no-load mutual fund. I did that, and I began tracking the value of the mutual fund on a sheet of graph paper. I became hooked on the concept of investing. I decided to name the company after my Dad as I wanted to build a business that upheld the values that he taught me. And I knew that I would work extremely hard to make it successful as I would never want his name tarnished.

If you could provide one positive memory of your time in Texas ECE, what would that be?

There are so many fond memories from that time from the wonderful friendships that I established to the fun we had working on major projects and the engineering clubs that I was involved with socially.  One specific event leaps out at me. I recall getting an assignment to create a Tic Tac Toe game using assembly language which is a programming language one step above the simple machine language of 1s and 0s. I spent hours on the assignment. And then early one Saturday, I went to the lab to finish up the code. As I walked across campus, I noted some students on the lawn playing frisbee (undoubtedly pursuing a more forgiving major, but maybe I am projecting) expecting to finish in time for lunch.  I spent hours getting the program to run only to turn it in to the TA and watch him functional test it and break it. I spent a few more hours fixing the problem. The TA gleefully broke it again. Wait, did you say positive memory? I finally got the code to a point where it withstood validation testing, and I left the lab late that evening at maybe 10PM. I was exhausted and frustrated that my day had disappeared. But by the time I reached my dorm, I had a pep in my step because I knew that I could conquer the engineering program. It was a turning point.

What is an important lesson you have learned in your career that you wish you could go back and tell your younger self?

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

Don’t be afraid of failure. I would encourage my younger self to stretch a bit more, take on leadership roles that I was afraid of, pursue adventures where there is some uncertainty, and place myself in situations that are slightly uncomfortable. You can learn a lot from failure and the downside is usually not as bad as you fear. When you attempt something new and you are successful on the first try, you have no idea why you were successful. It just happened. Maybe you were good, or maybe you just got lucky. It’s only when you fail that you learn valuable lessons. The only real failure is not trying.