David Gerber — President & Chief Operating Officer
I have always loved numbers: their ability to guide decision making, create focus and uncover key truths about a business. Unlike your average card-carrying member of the Math Team, however, I’ve also had a lifelong passion for rock ‘n’ roll. After school, my friends and I would swap math problems for fun, but by evening you’d find me, electric guitar in hand, letting my right brain take center stage.
My love of music led me to play in Dead End, a high school band rocking enough to take first place in our town’s Battle of the Bands contest. As lead guitarist, I was thrilled to claim our prize, a concert held for the entire town, with the Mayor as Master of Ceremonies. The only hitch was that I had to make sure that our stage props (orange traffic cones and a Dead End street sign of questionable origin) drew no unwelcome notice — an early lesson in risk management and cost/benefit analysis.
By then, despite the acclaim, I’d already settled on pursuing a career in accounting. To finance my education, I worked full time as an accountant for an advertising agency while also taking a full course load to receive a BS in Accounting from Montclair State University. After completing the CPA exam, I joined the audit staff of Ernst & Young. I spent five years in public accounting, primarily in audit and tax for financial services firms. I discovered that my true gifts lay in helping my clients see the bigger business picture. Financial insights that help clients make better business decisions are much more useful than an accounting recap of past history. This whole-brain approach to business has served my clients, partners and colleagues well throughout my career.
Inspired by a desire to dig deeper and understand the inner workings of my financial clients’ businesses, I decided to pursue a career on Wall Street. In 1994, I joined S.A.C. Capital Advisors, where I became Controller. At SAC I not only learned how to manage a staff and a first-class back office, but I also learned the business of money management. Several years later, I was asked to become the Chief Financial Officer of SAC’s first spinout, Kadem Capital, where I was responsible for all of the firm’s non-investment functions. I helped build the company from the ground up, overseeing finance, accounting, technology and infrastructure. In 2003, I co-founded Great Point Partners, an investment firm focused on private and public health care companies. In addition to my financial role, I was responsible for capital raising, client service, operations and compliance. I also served on the firm’s investment and valuation committees.
In early 2011 I joined Daruma because it has a culture that values my whole-brain approach to managing an investment company. Daruma has a long and strong track record of outperformance, integrity and compliance, yet is small enough for me to have deep operational involvement and develop meaningful relationships with clients. My role as President and COO allows Mariko and her team to focus on investing. These days, I may no longer battle bands, but I still play my guitar faithfully, albeit focusing on cost/benefit analyses of an entirely different sort.