Our ‘A Day in the Life’ series highlights alumni in various fields and positions, offering a glimpse of what life after graduation is like. This post comes to us from M&T alum Jamie, currently working at a private equity firm in Philadelphia, PA.
Please briefly describe what industry you’re in and what your particular position entails.
I work for a private equity firm that makes growth equity investments in growing and profitable middle market companies. We provide founders or professional CEOs between $20 and $100 million of capital to fuel their company’s growth or provide liquidity to existing shareholders.
I am involved with sourcing potential investments, determining if they are an attractive opportunity to earn a return on capital, working with management teams to build value, and ultimately selling the assets (hopefully for more than we invested!) to return capital back to our investors, primarily composed of pension funds.
Because my firm invests across a broad range of industries, and because I’ve had the chance to move between industry teams every 18 months or so, I have had experience investing in healthcare, education, software, and business services focused businesses and have encountered the many diverse business models in these industries.
What time did you get up this morning before work?
What time did you start working, and what time were you done for the day?
I generally work from about 9am to 7:30pm, but this varies based largely on whether we are doing diligence on a new investment during which time longer hours are required.
What were some of the projects you worked on today?
My team (primarily composed of two partners, a principal, myself and an analyst) recently invested in a company so now my work flows are largely focused in two areas: refilling our pipeline of next opportunities and implementing our near term plans developed jointly with the management team of our recent investment.
Who specifically did you interact with today, besides coworkers (clients, interns, researchers, executives, founders, etc.)?
Most days call for some interaction with management at our portfolio companies and correspondence with investment bankers marketing investment opportunities. My favorite interactions outside of my coworkers involve collaboration with the CFO’s of the companies I cover, ranging from building a cash flow projection model to discussing the merits and risks of a potential add-on acquisition. I also very much enjoy talking to managers of companies for the first time and learning about their businesses.
Are you currently traveling or about to travel for work?
Most of our portfolio companies are located east of the Mississippi (often in the Mid-Atlantic) and only require a train ride or short flight to visit. I travel a few times a quarter, but generally trips are not lengthy and the majority of my time is spent in Philadelphia or NYC.
What was your favorite part of the work day?
While I don’t have a typical favorite part of my days, there are several things that I know make me happy, including: watching/contributing to my peers or newer hires’ development, finishing a project that I felt particularly proud of, getting a new assignment or finding a new and exciting company.
What are some of the challenges within your position that you particularly enjoy?
As a former M&T student that was involved in extracurriculars, juggling multiple work flows and working on diverse tasks is appealing and exciting to me. I have multiple people that I report to which at times can make prioritizing and managing a to-do list difficult but it is also engaging.
How did you end up in your current position?
I interned with LLR the summer after my junior year (2008!) and signed on full-time afterward. I have always been interested in what goes into building businesses and it became apparent that working in private equity was a great way to combine analytical and social interests, and satisfy my curiosity by learning about different industries and business models.
How did M&T help prepare you for where you are today?
While the particular classes I took in Wharton equipped me with business fundamentals and the engineering school contributed to my problem solving and analytics, it was the marriage of the two disciplines under M&T that emphasized the connections between innovation, business management, and value creation. These are core tenants of investing and I credit M&T with helping me realize that investing could be a fulfilling career for me.
What advice do you have for those who might be interested in pursuing a similar path?
The typical path to PE is often via a 1-3 year stint working as an analyst in investment banking. I often get asked if there are advantages/disadvantages to going into the field out of college, especially as it seems more VCs/PEs are growing comfortable hiring younger professionals. Like any decision, there are pros/cons either way, but my advice is if you think you might be interested in PE then at least interviewing and learning more about the field in college makes sense. Furthermore, regardless of where your interests lay, going to Penn and particularly M&T offers you an amazing opportunity to connect with professionals in the industry that are willing to talk with students. Use this resource!
Jamie is an Associate with LLR Partners in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from Penn and M&T in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from Penn Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School with a concentration in Finance. In his spare time Jamie enjoys Game of Thrones and its author, George R.R. Martin. He is currently planning his upcoming wedding. Congratulations Jamie!