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Friday, February 28, 2020

Business Traveller

Business Traveler: Max Salk, Photographer and Investment Analyst

Max Salk is an investment analyst based in New York City. He developed an interest in financial markets in college, where he studied finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, by following financial news and researching stocks in his free time.

In addition to his career in the financial sector, Salk is an avid traveler with a passion for landscape and travel photography. He has taken photography trips all over the United States and the world, and his work and chronicles of these experiences can be found on his website and Medium.

How did you get started in your industry?

I first became interested in investment management and financial markets late in high school. I then attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I majored in finance and was able to expand upon that initial interest through coursework and independent reading and research. After graduating from college, I began my career with Morningstar, where I worked for 10 months. I later joined PPM America, where I was able to directly engage in the capital markets, and research and recommend investment opportunities for a living. After three years at PPM, I moved to New York to join Blackstone / GSO Capital.

What sparked your love of travel?

My interest in travel began during my semester abroad in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, during my junior year of college. It provided a great opportunity to meet new people, learn new cultures, and explore a variety of different cities and landscapes across Europe.

How have you incorporated your photography into your travels?

Whenever I travel, I try to bring my camera along with me. You can never predict when a certain moment, backdrop or landscape will capture your eye, so I’ve found it’s always good to have a camera ready and be able to snap a picture.

What lessons have you learned from your travels that you have applied to your work or career?

When you’re traveling, it is always important to keep an open mind, be open to new ideas and experiences, and expect the unexpected. It is also important to have a plan but to be prepared and OK with it if things don’t go exactly according to plan. I think you can apply a similar framework to work, business, and one’s career in general: have a plan, but expect the unexpected and keep an open mind if things don’t go exactly as planned.

What inspires your vision and ideas towards your work?

I am inspired by learning new things and meeting new people. At work, this includes learning about new industries, products, and companies, and meeting a variety of different people.

What should people keep in mind when traveling?

Don’t over-plan. Have a plan, but think of it more as a framework for how you want to spend time during a day or two. Some of my fondest travel memories are from unplanned events or events that began with a plan but evolved into something different.

What advice would you give to those who want to travel or pursue hobbies beyond their work?

Find a way to make it happen. I think it is really important to have interests outside of the office and to spend time doing different activities. Not only can it be enjoyable and a nice break from work, but it can also offer a fresh perspective that can be beneficial to your life and career.

Where has been your favorite place you have visited? What has been the hardest or trickiest place to visit?

My favorite trip was my first road trip out West. We left Chicago and drove through South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. It was my first time seeing an absolutely breathtaking part of the country. We renounced the use of our phones for navigation, and exclusively used a series of paper maps that we purchased to get around. Generally speaking, we had a framework for what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go, but oftentimes ended up doing a bunch of things that we didn’t originally plan for.

How do you choose where you travel?

There are still a lot of places I haven’t been to, and I try to keep an open mind. Sometimes it depends on who I am traveling with, and if they have a strong preference for somewhere. I do like the convenience of having a car when I travel, however. I think it provides a lot of flexibility to see and do a variety of activities.


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Anna Papadopoulos
Editor, writer, teacher, consultant. Advocate for plain language, journalism, free speech, and tolerance. Feminist. Based in Sydney, Australia.
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