Justin Kerber '11: Wrestling Lessons Build Finance Success
Updated: Jun 20, 2022
Justin Kerber began his freshman season at Cornell with an expectation of wrestling at 174 pounds. However, when the team needed a 197 pounder for the last seven duals of the campaign, Kerber made the move up two weight classes.
He went 7-0 in those duals and was named First-Team All-Ivy. It was the start of an incredible career: 4x EIWA placer, multi-time medalist at prestigious events like the Southern Scuffle and Cliff Keen Las Vegas, and 3x NCAA qualifier, including an overtime loss in the blood round to fall just shy of All-America status. Kerber did all that winning despite wrestling everywhere from 165 to 197 pounds. (He competed at Nationals at 165 and 184!) and finished with 110 career victories.
He said the lessons he learned as a Big Red wrestler have played a key role in his success in the business world since graduation.
"Beyond the finance courses which gave me a foundation for what I do today, wrestling for Cornell gave me valuable experience preparing and competing at a high level," he said. "This competitor's mindset has been perhaps more important than anything else. My current job can be emotionally taxing during periods of market volatility. At these moments, it's important to manage emotions, trust your preparation, adapt where necessary and make one right decision at a time."
Kerber's experience in finance began while he was an undergraduate.
"During the summer before my junior year, I interned with Cayuga Venture Fund while training in Ithaca," he said. "During the summer before my senior year, I interned with Goldman Sachs in New York City. My experiences at Cornell and the Cornell wrestling network were incredibly helpful in setting me up for each of these opportunities. The Goldman Sachs internship ultimately led to a full-time job offer and I began my career there following graduation."
After several years at Goldman Sachs, Kerber took a position with HG Vora Capital Management, where he is currently an Investment Analyst.
While he no longer lives in Ithaca, his connection with Cornell wrestling is still strong.
"The best and most enduring part of being a Cornell wrestler has been the relationships," he said. "My closest friends to this day are my teammates."
He's become another key member of the Cornell Alumni Network, something he believes sets Cornell apart from other top wrestling and elite academic institutions.
"Cornell is the only place that I know of that will allow you to compete at the highest level in wrestling while simultaneously laying a foundation for competition at the highest levels in business and finance after college," he said. "The Cornell wrestling room is packed with World and Olympic caliber competitors. Mike Grey is building a program that is going to produce National Champions, All-Americans, and ultimately compete to be the first Ivy League to win a National Championship in the modern era. In the classroom, Cornell has everything you need to acquire the prerequisite knowledge/skills for business. And on top of that, you will become part of an extensive Cornell Wrestling alumni network allowing you a direct line into a diverse group of people doing really cool things at a high level throughout the world."
More on HG Vora and Justin Kerber
"HG Vora is an investment management firm that manages ~$8 billion in assets for institutions and high net worth families," he said. "Our primary vehicle is a hedge fund that invests opportunistically in debt and equity securities. As one of our Investment Analysts, I have responsibility for sourcing, diligencing and executing in the gaming, lodging, leisure, real estate and related sectors."