A Commitment to Decision Sciences
Mike Pausic M.B.A.’89 describes his undergraduate major in systems engineering as the genesis of his interest in decision sciences — a mindset that he has carried to business school, throughout his career, and now into his philanthropy. Through his studies, Mike learned about the importance of decision analysis and the wide range of applications for data-driven decision-making.
Originally posted at Fuqua School of Business.
“Once you understand how much cognitive bias can influence problem solving, you can see how important understanding decision science and data analytics is to both business and social decision-making,” Mike reflects. “As the world becomes increasingly focused on data-based decision-making, it’s critical to understand and apply a full array of tools — decision analysis, risk analysis, statistics, and forecasting — in reaching conclusions. That balancing of psychology and science is fascinating to me.”
Currently a partner and co-founder of Foxhaven Asset Management, Mike holds extensive experience in the media and telecom industries. He began his career in the media and telecom group at Bankers Trust before transitioning to corporate development at Fox Corporation on the West Coast. He also worked for Viacom for a time before moving to Maverick Capital, where he headed the media and telecommunications team. He co-founded Foxhaven in 2013.
When looking for skilled corporate managers, Mike seeks out individuals who can use a variety of tools to interpret information and make sound decisions. “We’re making tradeoffs every day, assessing risk and return, using a lot of strategic rubrics — there are a lot of places you can go with optimization,” he explains. “But we also focus heavily on management and industry fundamentals. It’s a balance.”
As he got more involved with Fuqua as an alumnus, Mike appreciated the talent of Fuqua’s faculty in decision sciences and saw an opportunity to invest in what he viewed as an area of differentiation for the school. In 2016, he made a commitment to Fuqua to create the Strategic Decision and Risk Analysis Faculty Fund, an endowed fund to support faculty research in decision sciences. He furthered that investment in 2019 by establishing the Westgate Professorship Fund, an endowed full professorship to support a faculty member in decision sciences. Mike’s previous support of the school also includes establishing an endowed scholarship, providing funds for a team room, and giving to the Fuqua Annual Fund.
“Mike’s generous support of decision sciences at Fuqua is an important investment in an area that has had, and, in all likelihood, will continue to experience growth,” reflects Bill Boulding, Dean and J.B. Fuqua Professor of Business Administration. “We are deeply grateful for his insight and leadership as we continue to expand our capacity in faculty research and student programming in data analytics.”
Through his membership on Fuqua’s Board of Visitors, Mike’s engagement with the school has deepened, enabling him to gain a closer view of important issues at the school, reconnect with alumni, and participate in activities on campus. This insider’s view has only strengthened his commitment to supporting the school in a way that positions Fuqua for its next step.
Keenly aware of the hazards of myopic loss aversion, Mike considered the school’s existing faculty strength and his desire as an alumnus for the school to win when weighing his options for investing in Fuqua philanthropically. He found that the optimal long-term decision model was investing in Fuqua’s faculty through endowed funds that will provide support in perpetuity.
“My hope is that we can continue Fuqua’s upward trajectory — keep doing the things we’re good at, invest in areas where we can be winners, and differentiate ourselves as an institution,” Mike explains. “People can be really bad at making decisions. Teaching students how to make informed decisions makes us better. Our graduates can be better managers and better corporate leaders who, in turn, reinvest in Fuqua to elevate the stature of the school. It’s a flywheel of success.”