Here at DDJ, our clients are at the center of everything that we do. We believe that the best partnerships are built upon strong relationships between people. Our “Meet the Team” blog series is designed to let you get to know us better.
Recently, we sat down with our President, David Breazzano, and asked him some questions. Find out about some of his favorite travel destinations, what types of books he recommends, and how he thinks about company culture.
PERSON BEHIND THE PORTFOLIO
Meet David Breazzano, President, Chief Investment Officer and Portfolio Manager at DDJ. Mr. Breazzano has more than 39 years of experience in high yield, distressed, and special situations investing. Prior to forming DDJ, from 1990 to 1996, he was a vice president and portfolio manager in the High Income Group at Fidelity Investments, where he had investment management responsibility for over $4 billion in high yield and distressed assets.
Q. What is your favorite genre of music? Do you have a favorite group?
That’s easy, Rock and the Beatles. I remember watching their concert on TV when they came to the U.S. in 1964. I was too young to go see them live. Plus, I always will remember when I heard that Lennon was shot in December 1980. I was in New York at the time.
Q. Favorite sport or activity to play?
I am a big fan of watching football. Living in New England, I have been a very fortunate fan the last 15 years…
Personally, I love skiing. My favorite places are probably Aspen and Vail, but maybe that’s because of the night life. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time recently, and as a result, I haven’t been skiing in almost two years. I also enjoy golf although I am not very good at it. Similar to skiing, I haven’t had much time for it, but when I do, it’s the social aspect that I enjoy the most.
Q. Who is/was your mentor?
Peter Smith, who was my first boss after I graduated from business school in 1980. I was working at New York Life as an investment analyst and he really took the time with me. He instilled in me the importance of being detail oriented and thorough. When writing papers, there could be no typos and grammar needed to be perfect. When creating spreadsheets, which we did by hand back then, I had to triple check them for mistakes. At New York Life, I worked as an analyst and within two years I worked my way to senior analyst, and then assistant vice president. Peter taught me not only to work hard but to be balanced. Life isn’t all about work, as you have to make time for the things that you enjoy outside of work. In fact, Peter ended up leaving New York Life to pursue a career in the arts, as he had a deep-rooted appreciation for the Renaissance era.
Q. Favorite quote?
If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again.
Q. Where is your favorite place that you have visited?
South Africa. In 2016 I went to visit my son Matthew, who had just finished a semester abroad at the University of Cape Town. He is a very big traveler. We spent a few nights in Cape Town, where I got to meet some of Matthew’s friends. Then we went to the Kalahari Dessert and did an open vehicle safari. There was such diverse wildlife and so many dangerous creatures, some that got within inches of the vehicle. It was exhilarating.
Here we are in Cape Town:
And here we are on one of the excursions – we went for a ride first thing one morning. It was so hot there, you could only do things in the early mornings or late afternoons. We rode out and had breakfast and coffee in the middle of the desert. Just me, Matthew and our guide. It was very cool.
Q. If you could visit anywhere, where would you go?
Mars, and in the next couple of decades, we just might.
Q. What is the last book you read? Or what is a book you recommend?
I recently finished the book King Phillip’s War. The book is about the first major war between the English and the Native Americans, which ultimately solidified English control of New England. It was probably the most brutal war in American history with maybe the most profound impact on colonization in North America, and nobody talks about it. It’s known as the “Forgotten War” – overshadowed by subsequent wars such as the Revolutionary War – and towns were completely wiped out, along with most of Maine’s settlements as well. It is a good book about the collision of two cultures.
I wouldn’t recommend any one book, but I would recommend diversity in your reading. Many people read things that reinforce their beliefs. It’s called confirmation bias, and little by little your circle gets smaller. So, my recommendation is to read something outside of your comfort zone and break that bias.
Q. Outside of work, what is something you are passionate about?
History, science, and learning about other cultures. As a consequence, I love to travel. Places like Iceland, where the landscape is so incredibly different than anywhere I’ve been, fascinate me.
Q. What are you most proud of?
1. How my children turned out.
I have three boys – Jeremy, Michael, and Matthew – each two years apart from the next. All three of them are nice, accomplished, well-rounded human beings. They all followed in their father’s footsteps and received an MBA from the Cornell University Johnson Graduate School of Management. Today each of them has a solid career, appreciates a good work-life balance, and is able to enjoy themselves outside of the office. Here are the four of us in Edinburg, NY in 2016:
I founded DDJ 23 years ago and I’m proud of the long-term track record that we have produced, which quite honestly, I think stacks up nicely against anybody in the high yield space. I believe that several of our accomplishments can be attributed to our disciplined growth. Many companies will have completely transformed in size 23 years later, but we have adhered to disciplined growth and retained our boutique nature. The last thing I ever wanted to do was walk into a client meeting and have to sit there explaining poor investment performance, and so far, I haven’t really had to do so. I think that is because we’ve never chased growth.
The information and views expressed herein are provided for informational purposes only, and do not constitute investment advice, are not a guarantee of future performance, and are not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. The inclusion of particular investment(s) herein is not intended to represent, and should not be interpreted to imply, a past or current specific recommendation to purchase or sell an investment. Any projections, outlooks or estimates contained herein are forward-looking statements based upon specific assumptions and should not be construed as indicative of any actual events that have occurred or may occur. This material has been prepared using sources of information generally believed to be reliable; however, its accuracy is not guaranteed. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. Investors should consider the investment objective, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing with DDJ. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.