2015 Distinguished achievement award: Todd Pulvino

// Mechanical Engineering

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Todd-PulvinoTodd Pulvino
Co-founder and Principal
CNH Partners
BSME ’84
Sarasota, Florida

Todd Pulvino is a recognized leader in finance whose distinguished career includes success in academia and business.

As a co-founder and principal at the investment firm CNH Partners, an affiliate of AQR Capital, Pulvino has championed the use of creative, technical approaches to identify and enhance investment opportunities. He co-founded CNH’s arbitrage investment business and has served as a lead manager of arbitrage strategies since 2001. Currently, more than $7 billion is invested in arbitrage strategies across CNH and AQR funds.

After earning his UW-Madison bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1984, Pulvino began his career as a project engineer at The Aerospace Corporation. After six years at The Aerospace Corporation—during which he also earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology—Pulvino went on to pursue graduate studies at Harvard University, where he earned a master’s degree and a PhD in business economics.

After completing his PhD in 1996, he joined Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management as an assistant professor of finance, focusing his research on the risks and returns in event-driven arbitrage, the practice of buying and selling similar assets simultaneously, for a profit. While at the Kellogg School, he received two Journal of Finance Smith Breeden prizes for his research, received the L.G. Lavengood Outstanding Professor of the Year Award in 1999, and rose to the rank of tenured associate professor of finance in 2003. Prior to earning tenure, he was also a consultant at two fund-of-fund firms, Collins Associates and Grosvenor Capital Management, and spent a year as a visiting professor at Harvard Business School. Pulvino left his associate professor position at Northwestern to focus on CNH Partners in 2004.

Although his career progressed from engineering to the world of finance, Pulvino says his UW-Madison engineering education gave him a strong foundation for building a dynamic career. “One of the things that I like about engineering is how analysis informs design,” he says. “Analytical techniques, and more generally the analytical thought process, that I learned in classes like Professor Emeritus Wayne Milestone’s design analysis class, helped me in engineering and continue to help me in the finance world.”

Pulvino is a member of the UW-Madison mechanical engineering industrial advisory board. He lives in Sarasota, Florida, with his wife, Katie. They have three adult children, Christa (26), Nick (24) and Natalie (19).