Think independently, work collaboratively
With entrepreneurial energy, Bruce Spohler '86 focuses on building strong teams
The marriage of finance and entrepreneurialism
may have been his destiny. Bruce Spohler's
grandfather was a first-generation German
American. Here in the U.S., he initially worked for
a regional supermarket and went on to open a
delicatessen. Spohler's father is a successful Wall
Street wealth advisor and asset manager.
When considering business schools, Spohler
knew exactly what he was looking for and
applied to only one: Kellogg. "The school has
always attracted people who think outside the
box — team players who also were independent
and creative. This was a rarity for business
schools back in the '80s. It is even today," he
explains. "Equally important, I couldn't see
myself in a cutthroat, everyone-for-themself
environment. Kellogg's belief in cooperation and
camaraderie was evident and unique."
He recalls an early and important Kellogg lesson
that would set the tone for his career. "It was
one of our first group projects, and to be honest,
I only gave it an 80% effort. Everyone else came
in with 110%. I felt terrible. It was the last time
that ever happened. At Kellogg, we always
worked with others. You had to be self-aware
and understand your strengths and weaknesses."
Spohler has carried these ideals through every
phase of his career, aligning himself with people
who challenge him and offer complementary
skills. He began his career at Drexel Burnham
Lambert, where he worked on mergers and
acquisitions. When Drexel dissolved, rather than
go on to another bank, he and a few Drexel
colleagues founded The Argosy Group LP. The
firm flourished and ultimately was sold to a
larger company, CIBC World Markets, where
Spohler served as managing director and went
on to co-head U.S. Leverage Finance. The
entrepreneurial bug bit again, and in 2006, he
co-founded Solar Capital Partners with a fellow
Kellogg alum, where he currently serves as a
"We live Kellogg lessons here every day,"
Spohler says. "Our staff is incredibly smart and
talented, but they check their egos at the door.
Job candidates interview with several of us.
We want to be absolutely sure it's a good fit.
We are proud that our team represents diverse
backgrounds and skills, but the commonality
is everyone here is really nice; they care about
each other; they want to spend time together
and build a firm we can all be proud of."
Just as Spohler represents the best of risktaking,
entrepreneurialism and calculated
business savvy, so does his firm: self-starting
innovators, some of the best minds in business,
who excel together as a tightly cohesive team.