Ask the experts: Life behind the scenes in a private equity firm
17 Oct 2022
17 Oct 2022
Sophie Isaacs and Ana-Maria Garaba joined the Yorkshire team of leading private equity investor LDC in January 2022, just as the firm announced a new commitment to invest in at least 100 mid-market businesses nationally over the next five years. Here, they talk to us about their experiences so far.
Tell us about your role within the team?
Sophie: My role is Deal Origination, which means I am responsible for identifying management teams that are looking for the support of an investment partner. I’m involved at the front end of the investment process and given the team has already completed six transactions this year, it’s been a busy one!
Ana-Maria: As an Investment Manager, it’s my job to work with Sophie and the wider LDC team to develop investment strategies and identify the ways in which we can help management teams achieve their growth ambitions. This could be helping them to pursue an acquisition, launch a new product or service, or expand their team.
A great example is our partnership with York-based Cellhire, the global provider of mobile Data and IOT communications services. I was part of the investment process from start to finish and I’m now working with the management team to help execute their plans. This includes expanding the business’ product and services offering and growing its customer base in the UK and internationally.
What makes Yorkshire stand out, and what is your future outlook for the region?
Sophie: I’ve spent my career working in Yorkshire and London, but with very different experiences. In a smaller market like Yorkshire, relationships mean everything and I get to meet some incredible people through my role at LDC.
For example, there’s a really strong community of technology entrepreneurs here. This is partly due to businesses northshoring, but also due to the shifting dynamics post-Covid – talent is more available than it ever has been due to remote-working. If anything, tech is no longer a sector in itself but is steadily becoming an integral part of every other industry – from healthcare to education. This creates a lot of opportunities.
The advisory community is also really strong, and we’re lucky to have lots of talented teams and individuals with deep expertise that cover the whole spectrum of services. The market is also relationship led – which means it is collegiate and collaborative.
Ana-Maria: I couldn’t agree more and would add that the business community is also becoming more inclusive and diverse. Firms here all seem to have a much broader representation of people in terms of ethnicity and gender. Things have really changed over the last five years, which has enabled firms to better reflect the communities in which we operate and deepen the relationships with our customers.
Looking ahead, I’d expect the pace of transaction activity to remain steady in the near term. Yes, individuals and businesses are facing challenges – from inflationary pressures to the rising cost-of-living – but there are still avenues for growth and there are partners, like LDC, who are well positioned to support management teams through the ups and the downs.
Longer term, I think we’ll continue to see inward investment into Yorkshire as more high-profile businesses move to the region. As Sophie has mentioned, there’s a thriving technology and digital hub, but also world leading manufacturing and services capabilities.
The arrival of the likes of Channel 4 and the FCA in Leeds, as well as the development of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield, has already shone a spotlight on the region and what we have to offer, helping to increase our national profile and attract talent. This will have a positive knock-on effect across the rest of the business community and its certainly an exciting time to be working here.
Beyond transactions, how does LDC make a difference to the Yorkshire region?
Sophie: We have a national partnership with The Prince’s Trust, and earlier this year we more than doubled our commitment to support at least 10,000 young people to start, sustain and grow their own business.
Locally, we’ve also chosen four incredibly worthwhile charities to support this year – St Gemma’s Hospice, which provides expert care and support for local people with terminal or life-limiting illnesses; Zarach, which delivers beds and mattresses to children in poverty; cancer support charity Maggies; and Candlelighters, which supports families facing children’s cancer in Yorkshire. These are all outstanding causes, selected because they are close to our team’s hearts.
Ana-Maria: We’ve also raised around £2,000 in support of Ukrainian refugees. This means a great deal to me personally, as I am originally from Moldova, which has taken the most Ukrainian refugees per capita in Europe.
We wanted to help families and children caught in the conflict, so we have donated to help Ukrainian orphanages in their efforts to bring children to safety in Europe, while also helping to collect much-needed items like clothes, towels, nappies and sanitary products.
And we weren’t alone in our efforts – local businesses and the advisory community threw their weight behind our fundraising. We were so grateful for all their support.
Finally, what attracted to you to working at LDC?
Ana-Maria: The people. LDC’s team in Yorkshire is young, dynamic and diverse, and this means they can bring broader ideas and perspectives to our investee companies and the wider business community, whilst also leveraging the capabilities of the wider organisation.
Sophie Isaacs, Origination Manager