Meet the Team: Mo Aneese

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

If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t quite sure what private equity was until I got my internship at Livingbridge as an undergraduate. Prior to this, I had always expected to be an entrepreneur and to build my own business. It was during my placement that I realised private equity gave me the opportunity to explore that entrepreneurial side of myself; allowing me to develop a broader understanding of different businesses in all manner of sectors while helping them grow.

You joined Livingbridge in 2007. What first drew you to the firm?

The primary thing that drew me to Livingbridge was its diversity. Livingbridge is a firm that really lives and breathes D&I, and we are proud of the broad spectrum of people represented within the business. When combined with a voracious entrepreneurial spirit that is encouraged at all levels of the organisation, I felt that I could have a material impact on the business and the organisations we back despite joining as a junior member of the investment team. This holds true today, despite Livingbridge being three times larger than when I joined.

You have served as non-executive director for Visualsoft and FluidOne. What are some of the benefits of forging such close working relationships with portfolio company management teams?

I’ve served as non-executive director over several years and across various businesses, and what I love about it is seeing the founders and management teams grow and evolve between investment and exit. For everything to work smoothly, having a relationship built on trust is key. You want to create a situation where everybody is aligned and where clear objectives are focused upon. Complexity creates confusion. The best relationships are the ones where you can have direct, fruitful conversations whilst at the same time making time to socialise and having some fun as a team.

You have worked with some brilliant companies over the last decade. Are there any standout investments which come to mind?

The first one that comes to mind is Exclaimer, an email signature software provider. I was part of the team that first invested in what was then a small, founder-owned entrepreneurial business with no clear growth strategy but huge potential. The business ended up growing beyond all expectations, cementing itself as a global leader in email signature software, with over 200 staff. A real highlight was receiving a text from the CEO founder at Exclaimer, delighted with the outcome as we brought on new investors.

Another investment I particularly enjoyed leading was Ten10. We helped establish the company in 2015, having identified the potential to create a market leader in the sector by acquiring and merging two existing companies: Centre4Testing and The Test People. Since then, Ten10 has emerged as one of the fastest-growing tech talent and consulting services businesses focused on Quality Engineering and Automation, with over 250 employees and offices in London, Leeds and Raleigh, North Carolina. Its portfolio of blue-chip clients spans the financial, legal, retail, and public sectors. Looking back, it was challenging pulling together two businesses and cultures, but it was also rewarding to see how successful Ten10 has become. We exited the business two years ago, delivering a great result for all stakeholders.

As chair of the Livingbridge Foundation committee, why is it so important for companies to give back to the societies in which they operate?

I believe it is vital to give back, and Livingbridge has a genuine commitment to doing so via the Foundation. Companies really have the power to drive sustainable change in society, and by driving employment, embracing diversity and inclusion, and becoming engaged with not-for-profit projects in their communities, firms can also build stronger relationships with their employees. Employees increasingly expect their employer to have a social conscience and to support their personal desires to do charitable work – be that fundraising or volunteering. The Livingbridge Foundation was designed to do exactly that; providing staff with an opportunity to engage with causes that matter to them and that fit with the values and ethos of Livingbridge. If all organisations could give a little-back – be that time, knowledge, resources, or capital – we could make significant and meaningful impacts in local communities and society as a whole.

As someone who likes to explore new cities, what’s next on your bucket list?

It’s much tougher to travel now that I have three young children, but I still love to do it where possible! However, my priorities have changed somewhat – where we choose to go now is pretty much down to a) how easy is it to get to; and b) where the kids can have fun with the least possible maintenance. I’m sure that list of places will expand considerably as they get older! In the meantime, I’ve ignored the second rule, and our next trip is to Berlin, which I’m really looking forward to.

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