Josh Jenkins ran for Team NorthStar at this year’s Market to Market relay.
Content provided by Robyn Murray, Freelance Writer
“Team NorthStar!” an announcer shouts as Josh Jenkins emerges on a runner’s path, baton in hand. A small, standing crowd in colorful racing gear claps and hollers encouragement. His teammate, waiting on the path ahead, reaches out for the baton and runs on while Jenkins doubles over, clutching his knees to catch his breath.
It’s a perfect fall afternoon. The sun shines through wispy clouds, and a gentle breeze keeps the runners cool on the road. It’s the annual Market to Market, a 76-mile relay race that winds through rural Nebraska along creeks and gravel roads from Omaha to Lincoln. People have fun with it. They dress up in superhero capes and gladiator outfits and come up with goofy team names like “Run Jovi” and “Aged and Confused”. NorthStar is a regular participant (and a sponsor) at the event, and last year the team came in second in the corporate category. This year, Jenkins wants to win.
“Why would you want to do anything else?”
Josh Jenkins grew up on military bases around the world. He was born in Phoenix, Ariz. but only lived there a few years before his family moved to a base in England. A few years later, they moved again to Germany. His father served in the U.S. Air Force, and his mother worked on base as a nurse while raising three boys. The two married young before either had a chance to go to college, but despite juggling work and parenthood, they both continued their education as adults. “They were in their mid-30s before either one had a bachelor’s degree,” Jenkins says. In fact, his father went on to get his master’s. Jenkins says he’s always been extremely hard working, and he attributes that to his parents’ example. “Just seeing how hard my parents worked,” he says, “and how much they clawed every bit of the way.”
When Jenkins was in middle school, his family moved back to the U.S. The military presented a choice of six cities, but Omaha offered the best schools for Jenkins and his brothers. “Omaha is home now,” Jenkins says, “even though I didn’t really grow up here.” As a middle child, Jenkins always competed with his brothers. He participated in every sport he could and became deeply driven to win. That carried over to high school when Jenkins was weighing careers. At some point, he says, he figured out he could have a career putting money to work – and making it grow. “From that point on, I kind of didn’t understand why anyone would want to do anything else,” he says. “If your entire job was to make the money you made grow, why would you want to do anything else?”
After studying finance at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Jenkins landed a job in the highly competitive New York market. It was 2010, just after the bottom of the housing crash, and his firm was scooping up bad mortgages, investing in properties and re-selling them. “We were flipping houses essentially,” he says. While he enjoyed the challenge, it wasn’t a good fit. “If you’ve owned a home and ever had people work on it, you know it’s a bit of a nightmare,” he says. “So imagine doing that to 30 houses at a time in different states.”
Three years later, Jenkins decided to make a move. He came home to Omaha and looked around for other positions. It was only a couple weeks before CLS made him an offer. Today he’s a portfolio manager, a position he thoroughly enjoys. “I get to put what I feel is a strong analytical ability to work,” he says, “to formulate investment decisions and implement them.” At CLS, Jenkins also got the opportunity to complete his Level II and III CFA tests (he completed Level I just after graduating college). The exams are notoriously challenging – the pass rate was between 42 and 53 percent in 2015. For six months, Jenkins studied at night, usually at his desk. “The market would close, I’d come out here for a run, kind of reset myself, and then I’d go in and sit down – for two to four hours.” In a few weeks, Jenkins will officially receive his Charter. He passed all three tests his first try.
Jenkins is a good fit for the finance world. He loves analyzing data and sifting through it to spot trends and reorganizing it, and he’s extremely competitive. “It’s obviously a very competitive industry,” he says, “so it’s very easy to essentially keep score.” But it’s more than just the numbers that drive him. “We’re investing people’s nest eggs,” he says. “People are counting on us.”
When the race finally ended in Lincoln, the sun was setting and the temperature had dropped a bit. Jenkins jogged up to a tent where the runners had congregated and said he thought NorthStar would take home the win. “There was one other team who might have got it, but the guys who beat us last year – we definitely beat them,” he said. “I’m happy with my time. I trained hard.”
As it turned out, Jenkins’ team came in second, less than two minutes (or two seconds per mile) behind the winners.
Eight hours, 36 minutes. That’s the time to beat.