In his sophomore year at McGill, everything changed for Simon Bibeau.
“I tore my ACL in a practice and so I redshirted my second year at McGill,” Bibeau, 2015 McGill commerce graduate and four-year point guard on the McGill Redmen basketball team, said. “That was a complete shock because I had been playing basketball from age six to age twenty basically non-stop [….] That kind of shifted my mindset and I started to think, ‘Listen okay, basketball will only take me so far. I want to develop in more than one way [….] What should I do, what could I do?'”
He has certainly figured it out. Bibeau now holds a position as an investment banking analyst with Goldman Sachs; however, he was not initially drawn to the world of finance.
“I knew nothing about finance before university,” Bibeau said. “I was all ball, that’s all I thought about. I thought McGill offered the best balance of athletics and academics, but I’d say, […] I was really focused on the basketball part of it.”
His path to Wall Street was neither easy nor straightforward. It took hard work and some luck as well as leveraging his connections. After working as a teller at the Bank of Montreal (BMO) during the summer between his freshman and sophomore season, Bibeau landed consecutive internships at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto and Montreal, respectively.
“After these internships and getting some work under my belt and some traction, I realized working in a big metropolis like New York was not out of reach,” Bibeau explained.
Through the McGill alumni network, he secured an internship at Goldman Sachs.
“It was a bit of a luck […] but it required a lot of hard work,” Bibeau said. “I got a ten-week internship–it was basically a ten-week interview at the bank–and was [I] fortunate enough to put myself into a position which led to my full time job here.”
Bibeau knows what it’s like to perform under pressure. He was the captain of Redmen Basketball, a two-time RSEQ Champion, and an All-Star. His current analyst job requires the same strong interpersonal skills, problem solving skills, and flexibility that characterized his role as a successful point guard.
“Essentially, each analyst is assigned a set of clients, and you handle that specific group,” Bibeau explained. “However, if you are really close to a transaction with a certain [client], then sometimes your other teams will know that you are busy, and that they might have to accommodate [you]. So there’s a lot of live management going on. Also, some clients are more demanding in their requirements in terms of time-commitment, and so we may be more active with some clients.”
Sometimes the parallels between the pressures of shooting a basketball and his current employment are more stark.
“As analysts we are there to execute and expectations are binary, you either get it right or you get it wrong,” Bibeau said. “It’s very similar to making a jump shot—it either goes in or not. You can set your form and your arc to how you want it to be, but the ball either goes in the hoop or it doesn’t.”
For Bibeau, coming up big when the odds are against him has always been part of life. After tearing his ACL the season prior, he returned in 2013 to help lead the Redmen to their first RSEQ title in over two decades. Even when the championship game looked out of hand, Bibeau came off the bench to sink twelve points on four of six shots to clinch the title over the Bishop’s Gaiters.
“We were losing by 20 and ended up winning by 18,” Bibeau said. “We really just reversed our own fate [….] It was even more special because men’s basketball at McGill hadn’t won anything in Quebec for the last 25 years.”
The following year, Redmen Head Coach David DeAveiro named Bibeau the team’s captain. The skills he learned as a leader that season, both on and off the court, have helped him immensely in his daily activities.
“I feel that learning about leadership through sports is very transferable to any walk of life,” Bibeau said. “Being able to communicate […] and motivate people becomes natural for good leaders.”
Aside from leadership, McGill taught Bibeau how to balance his life–a tough task for those breaking into the investment banking world, who have to deal with long and fluctuating hours.
“I usually arrive at work between 9 and 10 a.m., and on a good day I leave between 6 and 9 p.m.,” Bibeau said. “On a bad day it’s between midnight and 3 a.m., and on a really bad day, which has happened a few times, it’s [between] 3 and 6 a.m. […] So, it’s usually 12 [to] 15 hours a day.”
Although Bibeau only occasionally plays basketball in New York playgrounds nowadays, basketball has been a constant throughout his life. His father, a former CIS basketball player, was the one who first introduced him to the sport. In typical fashion, his father put up a Fisher-Price basketball net at the top of his door and told him to try to get the ball in the hoop. The simplicity of the game coupled with the difficulty of the task drew him in. From that moment on, he’s never been one to shy away from the toughest challenges.
Favorite Club: “It might just be Tokyo. Tokyo is where it happens! I mean after our championship, the whole team went to Tokyo.”
Favorite Professor: “Ken Lester, who was a professor of finance. I mean he was not a typical professor by any means. He brought a very liberal arts approach to investment [….] He was truly a really good mentor.”
Favorite NBA Player: “Steph Curry. He is one of a kind, new form of player. I think he’s so popular because looking at him, he’s so much easier to relate to for the average person than a physical talent like Lebron.”
Raptors or Knicks: “Spurs. I was able to see them once against the Nets and once against the Knicks. It was awesome”
Montreal or New York Deli: “Montreal. When thinking about really good food, [I] still think back to Montreal. Montreal is very special in terms of food culture. Schwartz’s over Katz’s!”