Coe Juracek Explains How to Use a History Degree in the Corporate World

Coe Juracek Explains How to Use a History Degree in the Corporate World

Daniel Hall 20/10/2023
Coe Juracek Explains How to Use a History Degree in the Corporate World

Coe Juracek has an extensive experience in business development, strategic planning, and investing.

Ask successful investment professionals what degree they have, and you’re likely to get similar answers.

More often than not it will be a degree in business, finance, accounting, or maybe even math. But ask real estate investment pro Coe Juracek, and he’d recommend something altogether different — history.

Well, maybe the Duke University history grad wouldn’t necessarily recommend folks follow the exact same path to success that he trod. But he’d certainly tell you that while it was a long and winding road, his history degree has served him well in his almost 30-year career as an investment and finance professional.

Like many kids, as a high school grad choosing colleges and majors, Coe Juracek didn’t really know what he wanted to be when he grew up. But it certainly wasn’t in his mind to be an investment manager.

For the young Juracek — who is the managing director of the investor coverage group of Crow Holdings Capital, leading capital formation, business development, and strategic initiatives — the idea of a career in finance seemed dull and uninteresting.

“When I was a teenager, and I'm sitting there contemplating a career, and I’m seeing these movies [like Wall Street] with characters like Gordon Gecko doing these things that you don't even know what all the words are — like ‘derivatives’ or ‘financial instruments.’ And you read about bond trading, and you're sitting there going, ‘I don't know what any of this stuff is. And it just feels like pushing paper,’” Juracek said.

But he knew he had a fascination with the world, its cultures, and generally how things worked.

“I wanted to study history and live a life of the mind,” said Juracek, admitting that at the time, he didn’t have a career path in mind.

It doesn’t hurt that Coe Juracek also has an MBA from Southern Methodist University. Yet in retrospect, he said his undergrad history degree has served him quite well.

“I think a good, solid foundation in understanding history helps you understand how to think. It also helps you understand how to see the world, as well,” said Juracek.

Juracek said his history degree has given him a more holistic view of the world.

At Duke, he studied key moments that shaped the modern world, like early Chinese-European relations, the European entry of Japan during the 19th century, and the history of the Spanish in South and Latin America.

“All these intersections were fascinating to me,” says Juracek. “I just ended up taking lots of random stuff about the world.”

History Helped Coe Juracek Put Everything Together

The study of history is also the study of politics, diplomacy, and economics, giving the student the opportunity to study these disciplines in a historical context rather than in isolation.

It was at Duke University where Juracek was first introduced to the philosophy of world-renowned economist Milton Friedman. And through Friedman’s writings, Juracek formed the basis of his own worldview, which he says has served him well in understanding business and the wider economy.

Juracek offered the current inflationary environment as an example.

“One of the things that Friedman was known to have said — and I think had quite a bit of evidence to support his thinking — was that inflation is a monetary phenomenon. I think the quote was, ‘Inflation is, always and everywhere, a monetary phenomenon,’” Juracek recounted. “And so, without even getting into politics and whether or not we should have printed so much money since the global financial crisis, the fact that we now have this smackdown of inflation, to me was anything but surprising. It shocked me that it took so long. And I think there’s a lot of people who have thought a lot about why that may be — and I think they have some good reasons for it. But that it eventually came, didn't surprise me.”

Putting on his historian’s hat for a moment, Juracek thinks there will be plenty of people who will say about the current inflationary environment: “Well, it isn't really monetary. It was all these other things [like the pandemic, supply and demand constraints, demographics, or geopolitics].” But he is firmly in the camp that follows Friedman’s thinking.

“People always think this time is different. But as somebody who’s studied history over a lot of different periods of time, it’s never that different, we just have a short perspective,” said Coe Juracek. “People haven’t changed, and we’re not going to change. It’s not different this time, it at minimum rhymes! You can learn so much from history.”

How History Gave Coe Juracek the Tools To Succeed

In hindsight, Juracek now understands that a degree in history gives you the tools you need to succeed in the business world — critical thinking, the ability to see patterns, an understanding of human nature and how people make decisions — as well as the consequences of those decisions.

“I was a history major because I liked it and it allowed me to explore my curiosity across all of time and humanity. What I found since, now that I've been doing this role for about 10 years, is that it offers the same breadth and scale in a business environment, it’s kind of the one for me” Coe Juracek said.

And that journey started with his study of history.

“If you were going to say, ‘I want somebody to end up being the global head of investor coverage for a decent-sized real estate investment management firm,’ you actually might have designed my past. But I never in a million years imagined I was going to end up here,” Coe Juracek said.

Studying history not only teaches people how to think and understand the world they live in but it also instills a passion for other countries and cultures, argued Coe Juracek, whose job now finds him traveling through Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe, meeting people of different backgrounds and talking with them about business, investments and the world economy.

If he has business meetings in these countries, his mind often casts back to the histories of the places he’s visiting. Facts that have stayed with him since his studies fill his mind. He will be somewhere like Oman, Japan, or Azerbaijan, talking to a counterpart or prospect, when an obscure fact from school will pop into his head. That an American businessman knows so much about a counterpart’s country can be a pleasant surprise and a way to help build relationships, Juracek has found.

A framework for understanding the world and a basis to help build relationships with people from other cultures: That’s how Coe Juracek uses his history degree to succeed in the corporate world.

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Daniel Hall

Business Expert

Daniel Hall is an experienced digital marketer, author and world traveller. He spends a lot of his free time flipping through books and learning about a plethora of topics.

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