This week, we're delighted to welcome 3i's John Patterson, a Senior Associate within the Private Equity team, as our guest blogger.
We caught up with John to get the low-down on all things 3i, as the search begins to find the top new investment professionals through their Graduate Programme.
John, you sit in the Private Equity team at 3i Group, can you tell us a little bit about your career and how you progressed into Private Equity?
After starting my career in advisory at a Big 4 Accountancy firm, I wanted to make the move from advising on short-term projects to actually making investment decisions and being involved with companies over the long-term. With this in mind, Private Equity was the natural choice because your investment judgement is critical but you also work closely with the management team over the course of the investment to develop and grow the business.
What attracted you to 3i Group?
I chose 3i because it’s a great place to build a solid foundation in the industry due to its long track record and geographical reach. The Private Equity business is made up of a close-knit team of around 50 investors across nine geographies who have completed 22 deals since 2010; you don’t see that scale or breadth of deals in many other firms. Something that also really appealed is the relatively flat structure which means you get involved and contribute from day one – just a few weeks after I joined I went to Amsterdam to help with the execution of one of our investments.
What does your typical day involve?
As a Private Equity executive, you could be required to help on a broad range of things such as the commercial, financial or legal aspects of a deal, so you need a range of skillsets, including good interpersonal skills. The variety means that one day I could be assessing a new investment by meeting industry experts, constructing the financial model, or building a view on the risk profile of the business. Then the next day, I could be with the management team of a portfolio company working with them to implement a strategic initiative. As a result, you can often find yourself in unusual places - I recently attended Europe’s largest baby fair in Cologne with the Chief Executive of Mayborn!
What has been the most interesting deal you’ve been involved in so far?
I love the buzz of completing a deal as you put so much hard work into them, but when we invested in JMJ Associates last October we’d been working on it for nine months, so that was particularly memorable. Following it's completion, I also implemented the 180 day post-investment plan, working directly alongside the Chief Executive and other members of the management team to ensure we were on track to achieve the ambitious targets that we set out for ourselves. This included a project to develop the strategy for the business and I was lucky enough to enjoy a few trips out to Austin in Texas.
3i has recently launched a Graduate Programme, what do you think graduates can learn by joining the firm?
Graduates will be able to develop a number of skills over the Programme to prepare them for a career as an investment professional. Formal training will develop your technical and financial modelling skills to assess new investments and on-the-job experience will help hone your interpersonal skills, such as presenting, negotiating and networking. You’ll be expected to contribute to the team with ideas and you’ll have a mentor to support you through the Programme. We’re certainly looking forward to welcoming the new graduates who I’m sure will bring new and interesting perspectives with them.
A big thank you from FreshMinds to John for giving us an insight into his career, what it's like to work in Private Equity and for introducing the 3i Graduate Scheme!
If you would like to find out more about 3i's 2015 graduate scheme, you can read about it here.