Michael Zapata (M.B.A. Columbia Business School) is founder and general partner of Sententia Capital. He was commissioned as a Naval officer in May of 2001. Michael served as a Navy SEAL and deployed seven times during the Global War on Terrorism. Michael transitioned out of the military to attend Columbia Business School in 2011 and earned his master’s degree with a focus on investment management.
Mr. Zapata spoke with members of the Bulldog Investment Company and members of the TLU and Seguin communities.
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Michael R. Zapata: What I Like About Industrial Distribution Classes
I appreciate the time. So I'm going to talk a bit about my background where I've come from how I've gotten to where I am and then ultimately what we do from an investment firm. And then we can open up the Q and A. I think that's probably the most helpful for students and for anyone else that is trying to look to get into the path that that I've been fortunate to be on. So for me it was just great to be back in Texas right. I think growing up as a kid I remember again. And I was asking about the world's largest pecan is still here. I don't know if there there's a special place in my heart for Santa Ana. I was born on the east side of San Antonio I think Roland exit is where we were born and my family is on the South Side all throughout San Antonio when I was in the fifth grader so we moved to Houston north Houston The Woodlands spring condo area and I finished high school there and it ultimately went to undergrad at Texas. So it was there she was born being born in Texas and just going through the progression that I've been on. You know we grew up in San Antonio and we didn't really have a lot of a lot of finances. You know we grew up on food stamps government cheese. I remember shaking my milk until I got to college. Why. Because you get milk powder and you have to shake it up with water in order to drink it.
And so I didn't realize it didn't break apart and I got to college and are like hey why are you shaking your milk. What do you mean. I know why now. But. So it's interesting because you know during that time I was very thoughtful. My mom was very thoughtful about teach us how to say how to invest how to put a certain percentage to what's important in your life and then these are all basic basic building blocks of finances as you're growing up. And I didn't really realize the importance of it until you progressed more and more. When I got to Houston. There was a stock picking contest. I think it was in the fifth grade. And they said you know and you know I don't know back then. That's right praise. But we were looking at the newspaper look at the stock quotes and I remember they said pick out you know six six stocks and then we'll do a six week contest and we'll see where you where you rank out. And so I remember seeing Xerox. I thought it was Xerox. That's a nice one. Why. Because it was a bunch of Xerox machine that all over the school. So I think Xerox and six weeks later I think I'm as a top 5 percent of the region. So I think that's awesome. I had no idea what I was doing other than picking a stock that I recognized that I liked but it stuck with me as I got into high school started doing more science to technology.
I really enjoyed math that just continue my progression and my understanding of what my desire to sort of at some point become an investor and an analyst which is what I'm doing now. And then when it came time to go to college you know being where I was growing up it was a question of OK I'm going to go to Texas. I like the military. I like the military aspect of it I like the discipline so I want that and I'm going to apply to them and if I don't get accepted they know that I'm just going to go and enlist in the Marines because I can get the discipline I can get. The challenge of being a Marine and I could do that and fortunate I've got accepted you know I'm so I get this every day it's actually and I'm going to corps cadets. And I was able to get the best of both worlds. So nowaday now we have Aggie's. How many kids do we have in the U.S. four or five macula right. So we have actually in the audience here so Gork at that site. Now at some point it used to be one of the oldest or the biggest military schools in the nation. And so but at the core cadet you don't have to actually sign up for the military to become to go into the corps cadet. So it's almost like a like a boys club. You can you can get them there. And you can be part of this disciplines highly highly disciplined group. And then still have a college life. And I think I enjoyed those two dynamics so when I joined Am I didn't go in there with the mindset of becoming a military person.
I went there the mindset of learning discipline getting that understanding and then getting the college education. And so I started out as a mechanical engineer. I told me told me people this but after the first semester I realized like I like math maybe not that much. I got my I got twisted upside down. You know was so at some point after my second semester was like mechanical engineer maybe not where I want to be but I like engineering industrial distribution was fantastic engineering and what I really liked about industrial distribution is it had a very diverse set of classes that you're going to go to had engineering and physics. It had finance had accounting had business had distribution had all these dynamics. I really I really find it fascinating. I got into industrial distribution started to go to the process and then at some point my sophomore junior year I realized you know what I'm going to have a have a great degree. It's going to be highly.