Q: You started working at Livingbridge nearly decade ago, in 2011; what first drew you to the company?
Amy Yateman-Smith (AYS): When I first made the decision to transition from my consulting role to an investment role, I knew I wanted to join a fund where I felt aligned with the values and could build a long term career.
Livingbridge stood out from the crowd. The team was diverse. There was a real acceptance of different backgrounds and a celebration of cognitive diversity across the board.
One of the most important things to me was to find somewhere I could become a successful investor whilst always being truly authentic. Livingbridge felt naturally aligned with this, so joining the firm was a very proactive choice.
Q: What do you enjoy about working closely with portfolio company management teams?
AYS: I love seeing businesses and people evolve and grow and become the best versions of themselves.
We work with a wide range of teams with different backgrounds, experiences and aspirations and partner with them to fulfil their business’ potential – be it through investing in talent, or digital transformation, or providing them with the capital needed to accelerate their M&A strategies. It’s a real privilege to be part of their journey and growth.
Ultimately, the growth that we strive for comes down to people and my role brings me into contact with exceptional talent. I’ve had the pleasure of working with people who have been truly bold and innovative and have disrupted markets for the better. Equally I’ve seen teams show huge resilience and determination in navigating businesses through challenging circumstances – particularly over the last 12 months.
Q: What do you see as the key drivers of growth and success in a business?
AYS: There are many aspects to growth, but we usually start with the market opportunity, differentiation of proposition, and talent. We look for businesses which have identified opportunities in their markets and gone after them with the support of a strong team – the latter of which is crucial to the success of any business.
Take one of our portfolio companies, email signature software provider Exclaimer. The founders saw a gap in the market back in 2000, took a simple, original concept, and worked together to turn it into the global success it is today, providing software to over 25,000 customers across more than 150 countries.
Q: What does the International Women’s Day theme for this year #ChooseToChallenge mean to you?
AYS: For me, it means challenging the notion that private equity – and financial services more broadly – is a “difficult” industry to be successful in as a woman. I would love to see more women confident in their ability to forge a career in this industry. To turn this into a reality, visibility and flexibility are key.
I’ve been fortunate at Livingbridge to have female role models that have supported my development and career. However, I am conscious that whilst there is real impetus to change, this doesn’t exist across the industry yet and may not be visible to those looking in from the outside. I’d therefore encourage anyone thinking about their career to keep an open mind and have confidence in their ability and choices – the door is open, and there are various paths you can take at different stages in your life, to walk through it.
If you had told me I would one day be a Partner at Livingbridge with three children under the age of five, I would have struggled to believe it. Livingbridge’s flexible and personalised approach has made it possible.
Q: In your experience, have attitudes towards women in the workplace shifted during your career?
AYS: I’ve been very fortunate in that Livingbridge has always been supportive of my choices so a shift in attitude hasn’t strictly been necessary per se.
What I have observed through my role on the BVCA’s Foundation Training programme, however, is a marked increase in the number of women joining the course and showing an interest in the private equity. The challenge is, of course, ensuring that women progress beyond entry-level positions through to more senior roles, but I am encouraged that we are at the very least seeing an uptick in females entering the industry.
We’re in a unique position at Livingbridge in that we have the platform to shift attitudes not only within our own industry but across our entire portfolio.
We currently work with a number of fantastic women on investee company boards, but we know there should be more and we look forward to working with our portfolio to see this number grow over the coming months and years.
About International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific.