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Humble beginnings

Ariel welcomes back interns for homecoming celebration

Former Ariel Investments interns gathered in Chicago earlier this month for a reunion.

Two of the more widely known Ariel Investments interns — one whose dreams of playing professional basketball detoured into years of public service and the other who had absolutely no interest in basketball — held court at a recent Intern Homecoming at the Chicago-based money manager.

During the March 8 gathering, Arne Duncan, former U.S. secretary of education, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools and a newly installed member of Ariel's board, and Mellody Hobson, Ariel Investments' president, both shared how their internships shaped who they are today.

Mr. Duncan is now a managing partner with Emerson Collective, a non-profit organization that centers its work on social justice initiatives such as education and immigration reform. When Ariel CEO and founder John W. Rogers Jr. asked Mr. Duncan what he remembered about joining Ariel, he replied with a laugh: “I think the truth is, you took pity on me!”

As youths, he and Mr. Rogers went to school together in Chicago, and their relationship led to Mr. Duncan's internship in 1987.

After the internship, Mr. Duncan did play professional basketball in Australia for four years.

Ms. Hobson cited her mother's influence in fostering the independent spirit and work ethic that led her to being named president of Ariel in 2000, only 11 years after her own summer internship.

When asked of her beginnings with Ariel, Ms. Hobson said, “All of the interns were basketball players. I was the only non-basketball-playing intern during those days.” She joked that the interns would run off to two-to-three-hour “business meetings” to play basketball games.

This article originally appeared in the March 20, 2017 print issue as, "Ariel welcomes back interns for homecoming celebration".