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From Advisor to Investor – Making the move into private equity

6 Jun 2022

Camilla Greenwood is an Investment Manager in LDC’s North West team. She joined the firm in September 2021 after working at PwC as an auditor and in the transaction services team for six years. Here, Camilla discusses her experience of moving into private equity from a leading advisory firm.

I was brought up by a family of entrepreneurs. This sparked an interest in understanding how business leaders can take something from an idea to reality, and ultimately led to my decision to join a leading private equity firm.

Looking back, when I first started to explore a career in corporate finance, I was keen to develop as broad of an understanding about business as I could, so I applied for graduate schemes at all the leading advisory firms. I was drawn to PwC as it had been named a top employer by The Times for almost 20 years, and it was clear that they invested heavily in training and development.

At the time I was studying for my ACA – the qualification you need to become a chartered accountant – so having a supportive employer that would allow me to focus on my professional development was really important to me. I also knew I’d be challenged given the variety of clients PwC supports. I ended up working with people from FTSE-listed businesses to owner-managed and private equity-backed companies across many different sectors. It was the perfect start to my career.

After spending six years with PwC – three in audit and three in financial due diligence, I really understood what makes business’ finances tick. It also provided a window into the world of investment as I regularly worked with private equity-backed businesses and saw first-hand how the advice and insight we provided helped those investments to happen.

Having seen the role that private equity partnerships can play in supporting businesses to grow, I became incredibly curious about a career in private equity and to work more closely with business leaders. After speaking with some of the team at LDC, I was particularly excited about the opportunity to partner with management teams for the long-term to help them set growth plans in motion. I’ve been at the firm just over nine months now and I already sit on the board of Omniplex, a market-leading eLearning solutions provider. As well as getting first-hand insight into a sector that I am passionate about, it’s a chance to play a really tangible role in helping the business to thrive.

Thirst for learning

Something people might not realise about the private equity industry is just how deep your understanding of business must be. You need to know how everything works, especially the critical role that finance plays. I am quite an inquisitive person, and I am always keen to learn and develop new skills, so this aspect of the job was a huge draw for me.

It can be daunting. The nature of private equity means you simply cannot be across every single detail – and this was a big shift for me, coming from the advisory market where our role is to provide that detail! But from day one, the team at LDC have supported me every step of the way. Working alongside a team that collectively has decades of experience, and that is committed to sharing that knowledge and insight, is an incredible way to learn.

It also helps you to navigate one of the most challenging parts of the role. Working in due diligence, your job is to crunch the numbers and paint a full picture of the risk landscape. But the private equity team then has to make a call on that risk.

They must make a recommendation to an investment committee about the best way forward, the best transaction structure, and the best growth trajectory. And in the current climate where uncertainty is rife, it can be a tough call. But having so much experience around the table helps to guide you to the right decision, so we know that we are supporting management teams in the best possible way.

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In my experience, it’s very easy to let internalised uncertainty, or fear of getting it wrong, take over. But at LDC we are united by a shared mission to help businesses grow, and to back management teams to realise their ambitious growth plans.”
Camilla Greenwood, Investment Manager
LDC

Life beyond transactions

In my experience, it’s very easy to let internalised uncertainty, or fear of getting it wrong, take over. But at LDC we are united by a shared mission to help businesses grow, and to back management teams to realise their ambitious growth plans.

I really enjoy being an active member of the North West finance community, and wider team here at LDC. A highlight for me was a recent team away day, where we took part in a Tough Mudder-style assault course. Our team in the North West was thankfully relatively well prepared, following our monthly group bootcamp sessions (a great, if not gruelling, way to network and build team culture).

It’s nice to be a key part of the local corporate finance community here in the North West. The industry is a good size and growing quickly – with lots of advisors to meet and learn from, and many networking events to get involved with.

My advice to anyone considering starting out in corporate finance in the North West is to ask a lot of people a lot of questions. It is such a great place to learn and build networks, filled with many experts at the top of their game.