Meet the Team: Luke Bray

Why did you decide to join the world of private equity?

To do something both exciting and challenging – though private equity was never somewhere I set out for. I grew up in Grimsby, an economically deprived area, and it was not an obvious career choice. I had no idea private equity even existed back then!

It was then a slightly convoluted journey to get here. I studied chemical engineering at university, and after spending a year as a chemical engineer, I realised it was not the pacey environment I had envisaged. I decided to go into finance and took a job at PwC. It was there that I discovered private equity. I worked my way through a few different roles at PwC to build out my experience and eventually made the move.

If I am totally honest, at that time I thought of private equity as an elitist career that was full of people with different backgrounds to mine. I approached it feeling a bit of an outsider. As I started, I realised I was wrong. I get to work with people from all walks of life – both within Livingbridge and our investees – all helping businesses to grow.

Now five years in, I see it as a privilege – I get to work with great people and excellent businesses.

What was your first job?

I will discount being a paperboy as I never really got paid (I had spent all my wages by payday on eat-now-pay-later sweets). My first proper job was stacking shelves at a supermarket. I put my heart and soul into the butters, juices, and milk aisle!

You joined Livingbridge in 2017. What first drew you to the firm?

The culture. I did commercial due diligence for the ‘great and the good’ of private equity during my time at PwC, and it was apparent how varied the cultures of the different firms really are. One of the companies I worked on during my time at PwC was Exclaimer, a global provider of email signature software that Livingbridge invested in during 2016. I really liked the transparent and straightforward way Livingbridge interacted with us as an advisor.

I applied for a job the moment one became available. It was the only role in private equity I applied for – and luckily here I am!

You focus on the Technology sector. What do you find most exciting about businesses in this space?

As I mentioned I studied engineering, and I really like to know how things work. Focusing on technology companies lets me re-connect with my geeky streak.

What are some of the characteristics you look for when selecting a company to invest in?

I’ll pick one – and whilst obvious I say it to highlight the importance – a great entrepreneurial team is a must. We look for people who are ambitious about what they can build and have clarity on how they will get there. We are equally ambitious for all of the companies we partner with, and we will provide whatever support we can to assist on the journey.

You have travelled to quite a lot of countries – over 50! Any favourite moments?

Too many: swimming with phytoplankton, scuba diving through a shipwreck, toasting marshmallows on an active volcano, and in Vietnam sitting on a very small plastic chair in Hoi An harbour with a beer – after a hard day trying not to be runover as we motorbiked down the coast.

I also have a real interest in history and read a lot about a place before I go. I recently visited Colombia and did a four-day jungle hike to the Ciudad Perdida, or the ‘lost city’. The indigenous tribes who live in the mountains have been there for generations with no written language – it was incredible to learn about how they live.

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