Why did you decide to join the world of private equity?
I used to work in investment banking where I had experience working with both larger and smaller companies. I have always found the more entrepreneurial, usually smaller businesses interesting, and it can be easier to have a more personal meeting with the CEO, and really get an idea of what they want to achieve.
I wanted to move into an industry where I could go on that post-investment journey with the management teams and create value, rather than just bouncing from one deal to the next in a large, corporate environment.
You joined Livingbridge in 2006. What first drew you to the firm?
To be honest, I didn’t know a huge amount about the industry at the time, but Livingbridge fitted all the criteria I was looking for. It invests in fast-growing businesses across exciting sectors. It’s often the first investor for a lot of the companies it partners with, so it was exactly what I was looking for in terms of its size and the types of deals it does.
But ultimately, what made me choose Livingbridge was the people – I felt like it was home to really talented investors I could learn from early on in my private equity career and beyond.
Which investment have you been most proud of since joining Livingbridge?
Bright Futures Care, a specialist residential care organisation supporting young people and adults with autism and learning difficulties, is a company I have loved working with.
When we invested in 2017 the founder had by then grown the business to a nice size, fostered a fantastic culture and built a really strong service proposition, and was now looking to retire. He thought he was going to have to sell his business to one of the larger providers in order to do so, but we ended up meeting and working out a deal whereby he was able to sell to us.
He really appreciated our track record in prioritising quality of service because he genuinely cared about the well-being of the people he was helping and the legacy he would leave behind. Through our investment, the business was able to maintain its independence – which was great for the staff already in place – and grow substantially, all the while maintaining the cultural standards he had put in place.
As a result, we consistently receive outstanding feedback from the people being looked after and their families.
What do you enjoy most about your role on the investment team?
I really enjoy the interactions I get to have with such a wide range of businesses, management teams and founders.
I also like the process of working out why a particular business is successful; unpicking why it’s growing when its competitors aren’t, determining whether that growth is sustainable, and understanding what we can do to make it grow even faster.
You’re based in Livingbridge’s Manchester office – do you see it as a good place for growth investing?
Manchester is a regional centre of excellence for private equity. There’s a real vibrancy to the market and shared interest with the local entrepreneurs, advisers and even our competitors in making sure the city continues to be a dynamic and thriving place for business and investment.