Brian Tomlinson, BA’90

Twenty years ago as a 21-year-old senior at Northeastern, Brian Tomlinson was on co-op as an asset management assistant at IBM in Stuttgart, Germany. He had the extraordinary opportunity to help asset managers handle $4 billion in equities, fixed income and real estate. It was a professional experience that he will never forget.

“It was a dream come true. I was exposed to the asset allocation decision process of pension fund management. I observed first hand how asset allocation decisions were made and then implemented into strategies within the portfolios via the buying and selling of securities. For me it was exactly what I wanted to be exposed to,” recalled Tomlinson of his international co-op in Germany.

He used this career-shaping experience to springboard his career in Frankfurt into capital market and trading positions at Citibank, Merrill Lynch, Salomon Oppenheim, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, and then in asset management with Smith Graham & Company in Houston, Texas. Tomlinson returned to Germany in 2005 to join PIMCO as a global fixed income portfolio manager where he manages portfolios with nearly $6 billion in pension fund assets of institutional clients from around the world in the global bond and foreign currency markets. He is also their relationship manager with treasuries within the ministries of finance of Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Greece as well as the European Investment Bank.

Today at PIMCO his boss is Bill Gross, the world’s most successful bond fund manager. The US Treasury regularly requests consultations from his company and even Warren Buffet sings its praises. PIMCO has more than $900 billion under management as of 2009, making it the world’s largest asset manager of actively managed bond funds.

“The most important thing about co-op is probably the fact that it really helped me crystallize and focus on what I wanted to do versus what I did not want to do,” said Tomlinson, who also held co-op positions in the states at IBM and Massachusetts Financial Services. “Having different co-op jobs helps you determine after you graduate where you want to orientate your career in a more focused fashion.”

As Northeastern celebrates its first 100 years of co-op, Tomlinson is looking forward to being more involved during the second century. He eagerly looks forward to participating and supporting the new Presidential Global Scholars Initiative that will double the number of students participating in international co-op.

“Northeastern’s dual approach of offering a solid academic foundation combined with domestic and international work experience is a recipe that leads to results,” said Tomlinson from his home outside Munich.