2019 Best & Brightest: Niko Stjepan Martinovic, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Niko Stjepan Martinovic

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

I am an anachronism. There are many other centuries I would’ve better belonged in.”

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a dual citizen between the United States and Croatia. Another one is that Liam Neeson “threatened” me.

Hometown: Huntington, New York

High School: Locust Valley High School

Major: Finance

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: Applied Investment Management (AIM) the course where a class of approximately 20 students manages a live portfolio of $15mm given to us by the University’s Endowment.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Project Leader for Student International Business Council: GTCR LBO Project
  • Resident Assistant in Zahm House
  • Tour Guide
  • Head of Student Innovation @ Innovation Park/Idea Center
  • Co-Founded two companies: both have since dissipated
  • Wall Street Club
  • Investment Club: Board Member
  • Japan Club
  • Table Tennis Club
  • Men’s Boxing Club
  • Club Soccer

Where have you interned during your college career?

Goldman Sachs, IBD Real Estate Financing Group Summer Analyst, New York, NY

  • Valued various types of real estate assets, worked with credit team to evaluate if certain metrics met rating agency requirements, and consulted the capital markets desk on pricing to aid in negotiations with sponsors and brokers.
  • Modeled out cash flows and rent roll using Argus files, made underwriting and market leasing assumptions, and projected normalized cash flows for various assets in various locations.
  • Created and presented screening packs to internal managing directors during pipeline meetings.
  • Built committee memo presentation for the financing of a data center asset portfolio that was presented group wide on deal closing.

Greenvale Capital Management, Summer Intern, London, UK

  • Forensically analyzed, in French, the financial statements for a publicly traded European firm and developed thesis on shorting the stock.
  • Presented findings to portfolio managers and the stock was shorted and subsequently traded down on press releases.

Brigade Capital Management, LP, Investment Team Intern, New York, NY

  • Created DCF model on a slot-machine manufacturer and determined the company was undervalued relative to competitors.
  • Consolidated a tear sheet, valuation spread, and made an investment recommendation on the company to portfolio managers.
  • Built comparable company spread for both the auto-part and gaming industries to determine what EV/EBITDA multiples would be best to use in future valuation.
  • Prepared tear sheet and FCF model on a PE firms’ acquisition of a leisure company and recommended purchase of the first lien term loan to CLO portfolio managers and investment committee.

Solus Alternative Asset Management, LP, Investment Team Intern, New York, NY

  • Built a fully circular, three financial statement model on Cenveo (CVO), a distressed printing and paper company.
  • Presented a comparable company spread and tear sheet on the printing industry and CVO for portfolio managers.
  • Prepared a DCF model made an investment recommendation on the company.
  • Developed understanding of distressed/stressed and post-reorg equity investing by attending morning meetings, investor relations meetings, and client phone calls.

Tegean Capital Management, LLC, Investment Team Intern, New York, NY

  • Prepared tear sheets on financial institutions with a $10bn-$30bn market cap through due diligence and quantitative modeling.
  • Created FCF model concerning the $3bn merger between PetSmart (incumbent) and Chewy.com (disruptor) and attended the roadshow.
  • Presented tear sheet and models to Tegean CEO and gave investment recommendations.

Where will you be working after graduation? Goldman Sachs, Analyst in the Real Estate Financing Group (NYC, New York)

What company do you admire most? Disney! Ever since I was a child, this company was a part of my life. The magic of their films, their parks, and just their brand overall was enough to make me want to be an Imagineer for the longest time. The company started with the visionary Walt Disney making cartoons and today has turned into one of the most recognizable brands in the entire world. What can you possibly hate about that success and growth?

What did you enjoy most about your business school? Notre Dame is a business school that encourages teamwork and community building. Everyone wants everyone else to succeed. It does not fall into the trap of being a cutthroat environment.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? That business is not as easy as the media would make it out to be. It requires a substantial amount of know-how and foundational knowledge of certain core concepts. It is difficult to analyze a company, to grow a company, and to build one from the ground up. My education here has been humbling in that regard.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I thought I would hate accounting. Turns out, it has informed every finance class I have since taken. It truly is the language of business and I even thought that quote was just classic business jargon, but it is the truth. Knowing accounting is the key to understanding the financial health and financial workings of a firm.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…The Culinary Arts. Growing up in a European family food becomes the cornerstone of everyday life. At breakfast, you’re getting asked what you want for dinner. Food defines many childhoods for Europeans and it has influenced me so much that I still strongly consider moving into a career that is involved with the culinary arts. Combining business into it, would I like to own a restaurant(s) someday? The answer is ABSOLUTELY.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My brother Luka attended business school at Wharton one year ahead of me. I would constantly Facetime him and he would tell about the classes he was taking. In fact, I was originally an Economics and Math major at Notre Dame before these conversations. Luka was able to create a narrative which helped me realize that I was truly interested in the subject matter and scholarly discourse of an education in business.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I never thought I would graduate from Notre Dame saying that I entered a boxing tournament. Bengal Bouts is a boxing tournament held every year at Notre Dame. All the proceeds of the fundraiser and subsequent tournament go toward developing Holy Cross Schools (Kindergarten through College) and Healthcare facilities in Bangladesh. When I was a freshman, I said to myself that it would be a senior year bucket list item to enter the tournament. I put in 4 months of grueling preparation and discipline to get to a level of fitness I never had before, and it was something I truly thought I would never be able to do. Needless to say, I am very proud of this achievement and accomplishment.

Which classmate do you most admire? Christopher Skomra is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. His knowledge of finance blows me away every time and it’s no surprise that he received the Frank Reilly Award, which is given to the best finance student of the AIM class. Regardless of GPA and academic standing, my answer wouldn’t change. He continues to push the boundary for what the “normal” knowledge/skill set is for an undergraduate student. He already has the know-how of a full-time employee of at least a year in my opinion, which in the finance world, is a lot of experience.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I am incredibly lucky for the family I have. My parents have sacrificed so much for me and my brother to receive the educations we have. We were not only expected to do our best but to push ourselves past that. My parents certainly instilled that quality of resilience and persistence into me and it has given me an identity that I plan to hold throughout my career and life. I hope I can be as good a parent someday.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Cook with Gordon Ramsay
  • Skydive in Switzerland

What are your hobbies?

  • Cooking
  • Jazz Music (Playing and attending performances at Jazz Bars/Clubs)
  • Viticulture
  • Japanese Culture
  • Boxing
  • Skiing
  • Soccer
  • Tennis

What made Niko such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Niko Martinovic is a remarkable human being. I have known him since I had the pleasure of teaching him Corporate Financial Management during the fall of his sophomore year. He has a dazzling intellect, and a tremendous passion to help the underserved.

Niko produced superhuman work in every phase of our course. He was always thoroughly prepared, participated very actively, regularly visited office hours to discuss advanced concepts and interpretations, worked every optional problem and hundreds that were not assigned, and consistently completed assignments far in advance of course deadlines. The questions he asks in and out of class may be the most sophisticated I’ve ever received. And that includes conversations with top academics.

But it is out of the classroom where Niko has most distinguished himself. He is the most positive and upbeat person I know, and his enthusiasm is contagious. The depth and breadth of his extracurricular activities are astonishing. He spearheads several of the university’s entrepreneurship programs, serves extensively in his dorm, boxes to provide education and healthcare for impoverished students in Bangladesh, is fluent in four languages, and is even an outstanding cook!

He is also a superior athlete and DJ, and an accomplished jazz musician. And his performance in group work is astounding. He is an outstanding listener, and always inspires his group members to achieve beyond what they thought possible. Niko has redefined my perception of what one person can accomplish, and the impact he/she can have. And he’s only 21!  Wow. And he is always available, on immediate notice, to help.  At the end of last semester, my final exam was on a Thursday night. And with grades due only 72 hours later, I was in a panic when the need for an early Friday morning makeup exam suddenly materialized.  Who did we call very early that Friday morning, and awaken from a deep sleep to proctor the exam?  Niko Martinovic, because we knew he would deliver. And how did he respond?  “I’m happy to help. I’ll be right over. Which room?”

Niko may also be the most articulate and persuasive individual I have ever spoken with. Five seconds into a discussion with him, the conversation has real depth. He is one of the very few students ever that when he approaches me in the hallway, my senses dramatically sharpen, because I know I will have to be at my best to meaningfully converse with him. He is also one of the very few students I call on for advice because I value his penetrating insight. On top of all of this Niko is the most delightful person imaginable. He’s stunningly polite and humble, has a fantastic sense of humor, and generates enormous respect from others. On a wide variety of topics, students from across the university seek him out for advice. He always uplifts them.  Students, staff and faculty are in awe of him.

It would be a rare student who could match Niko’s prowess in any of eight major areas – scholarship, leadership, keenness of mind, integrity, congeniality, work ethic, humility and passion to serve humanity. Niko may be the most impressive person I’ve ever met.  He is an inspiration to all who know him. I can’t imagine a person who will do more good.”

Carl Ackermann
Nolan Professorship for Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction
Teaching Professor of Finance


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