Name: James Reynolds
Job Title: Director of Bridgepoint
My position in a nutshell… Bridgepoint is a Private Equity Firm that operates around Europe and the US and I am part of the investment team.
How I got the job… Back in 2007, I started out as an intern during my Master of Business Administration (MBA) which I was studying for at the London Business School. I spent that summer with Bridgepoint, working on a project, then went through the full-time interview process at the end of that summer and was offered a full-time job, starting in 2008.
My typical day… We’re trying to invest in businesses, so are looking for new ones to invest in, and managing the ones we already have in our portfolio. I spend most of my time speaking to the CEOs and management teams of businesses in the technology and financial services sectors. We review all the detailed information on them, and discuss with colleagues, before taking it to our investment committee. We look at the market, financials, tax, operations, marketing, legal aspect. Once we have decided that we want to buy a business, we start negotiating the deal – valuing the business, but also negotiating the terms of the deal, before finally producing documentation and signing. At this point the job really starts, as we are trying to create value in the companies we invest in, so we are looking ahead to 4-5 years down the line to try and increase the size and value of that business.
My most memorable moment… It’s very hard to give you just one but I would say nothing gets the adrenaline going like attending a final investment committee, getting approval and then going to a lawyer’s office to try and sign a transaction and close it out. These are intense moments, but very exciting.
The worst part of my job… The long hours. It varies, but when you are in the details of doing the due diligence on a potential investment, the hours can be very long, but just for a few weeks as we close in on that deadline.
The best part of my job… The variety and the constant mental stimulation of always looking at a range of different businesses and different sectors with different challenges facing all of them and completely different interpersonal dynamics with their management teams.
Advice / key skills needed for anyone wanting to do something similar… Study hard and get into the best university you can. Start your career by training in investment banking or consulting. Bridgepoint tends to hire people who have gone through this training, rather than people coming straight out of university. If you make it to the interview stage, we will be looking for three main things: firstly, your intellect and the speed of your thinking – you need to show you get new concept quickly. Second, you need to be really structured and logical and third, you need to demonstrate a real passion for business and for investing.
Something you can do right now to find out more about getting in to the private equity world… Have a look on the British Venture Capital Association (BVCA) website, they have a great guide to private equity. Also look up the Leveraged Buy Out (LBO) case study, this is often the structure that we use when we are buying out a business. You could also read Barbarians at the Gate, a book about the takeover of RJR Nabisco in the 1980s – it’s an entertaining read and, although the industry has changed, it will give you a flavour of some of the concepts we are dealing with day to day.