On Thursday, November 23, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management hosted its first Private Equity Night. Dr Heike Brost, Head of Degree Programmes & Executive Education at Frankfurt School, welcomed more than 200 guests in the Audimax of the business school´s new campus. “The Private Equity Night gives our students unique insights about an industry that becomes more and more popular and desirable for graduates. Certainly our renowned line-up will provide valuable hints”, said Dr Brost. Moreover, she explained that the Private Equity Night is a part of a series of events, such as the FS Start-up Night or the FS Career Day, organised by Frankfurt School´s Career Services, to give the students an exclusive understanding of a wide variety of industries before graduating. “Special thanks go to Dr Alexander Nuyken, who initiated the event and put a lot of effort into bringing a panel of established experts to our Frankfurt School”, she emphasised.
The event included an expert panel chaired by Konstanze Nardi, Transaction Advisory Services (TAS) Partner at EY and TAS Private Equity Leader in Germany, Switzerland and Austria . The other panelists where Rogier Engelsma, Managing Director at Gilde Buy Out Partners, Holger Schnoes, Managing Director at Advent International, and Torsten Vogt, who works as a Partner and Co-Head of Industrials at Permira. In a lively discussion the experts gave personal insights into the industry.
Dr Alexander Nuyken, Head of Life Sciences, Transaction Advisory, Europe, Middle East, India & Africa at EY, started with an introduction explaining Private Equity. He mentioned that Private Equity was not much connected with academia and kind of a new industry at the beginning of the millennium. “About 15 years ago Private Equity did not have a good reputation. People hardly knew anything about it. Also, the business was associated with the so called ‘Heuschreckendebatte’, initiated by Franz Müntefering, former German Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. Nevertheless, this has changed. Now Private Equity is an established and stable factor of our economy. There are many successful examples that this industry has helped companies”, he concluded.
Following, Konstanze Nardi started to ask the panelists to describe Private Equity from their points of view. “We see ourselves as responsible owners of companies with a long-term investment horizon. We are looking for resiliently growing businesses and work as partners of the management team to help bringing the companies onto the next growth level. Our engagements usually last from five to ten years”, explained Torsten Vogt. Holger Schnoes emphasised that investors of Private Equity firms have become more and more sophisticated: “They want to know, what we do with their money.” Rogier Engelsma added: “For our clients it is an important requirement that all partners working for Gilde also invest private money.” Holger Schnoes emphasised that investors of Private Equity firms have become more and more sophisticated: “They want to know how the returns are generated, and whether it is a sustainable and replicable value creation approach.” Rogier Engelsma added: “For our clients it is an important requirement that the GP (i.e. the partners of the Private Equity firm) is investing alongside with the investors.”
“You do not find open job advertisements from Permira. For recruiting new talents we use our private networks and hire agencies. Our employees are the cornerstone of our success. Thus, we spend a lot of time in finding the right candidates. Obviously, they have to be highly qualified. However, the most important factor for a position is that a candidate fits in our working culture. Curiosity, for instance, is essential”, explained Torsten Vogt. Although most of the Private Equity firms prefer candidates with experience who have worked in consulting or finance, there is a chance for graduates to get one of the much desired jobs. “We also hire talents who have just graduated from university from time to time. In addition, we have a selective number of students can do an internship”, said Rogier Engelsma.
Sebastian Mertes, Investment Professional at Permira, also took part in the event and was happy to be back at his alma mater. He finds his job particularly interesting because of the daily variety. “Working in Private Equity is challenging but extremely varied. During the so-called early stage work of any project one gets a better understanding of the market. Hence, a lot of research has to be done. It is important to recognize potential growth opportunities. After a while, depending on your position, you are in a constant exchange with the CEO and CFO of the individual enterprise you are working with”, mentions Sebastian Mertes, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Frankfurt School in 2010.
A following Q&A session gave the students the possibility to ask the panelists questions about the discussion. Consequently, the panelists explained the impact of the financial crisis on their personal work or if a job transition from industry to Private Equity was possible.