In the buyout world, when you officially become a deal guy, rather than just a mere analyst, everything changes.
It’s a bit like when young Aborigine boys go walkabout in the bush, and aren’t allowed back until they’ve killed a wild tiger with their bare hands (subs to check). Once they return to the fold, enveloped in the vanquished tiger’s hide, they are, officially, men.
Well, it was a similar story after my glorious appearance before the IC. As I metaphorically dragged that steaming carcass down the lift and back to my desk, I could see that people were looking at me differently. I wouldn’t say with a newfound respect, because actually I was incredibly well-respected already. It was more a sort of awestruck reverence. And perhaps the nicest part was the sheer pleasure my achievement brought to the floor. I mean, some of my colleagues were actually laughing openly. It’s nice to touch people like that.
That said, my boss showed some great management skills by keeping my feet firmly on the ground.
“Pye! Stop looking smug and get me a cup of tea,” he shouted from across the room.
(Effectively, he was performing the same function as the slave whose job it was to sit next to a victorious general as he entered Ancient Rome in triumph and whisper repeatedly in his ear: ‘Remember, you are just a man.’)
“I suppose you’d better sort out your hedging now,” he said, as I brought him his Earl Grey (full-fat milk, two sugars).
“Appreciate the thought. But to be honest, my garden is not exactly top of my priority list at the moment.”
“Your euro exposure, you pillock. Tell that useless lawyer of yours to stop pickling himself in retsina and get his act together.”
I didn’t 100 percent understand what he was talking about, but I decided that either way it was probably a good time to call Georgios, the Greek lawyer who’s my man on the ground.
What a lot of people don’t understand is that foreign countries are different to ours: they have different nuances and rhythms. Some of them even speak different languages. And clearly that can present some issues in terms of that most important thing in all of life: getting a deal across the line. That’s why you need a local in your corner – someone who knows which palms to oil.
I had a momentary panic when I couldn’t get hold of him for three hours. But I needn’t have worried: it turned out he was just on his lunch break. Such is life in the cradle of democracy.
“What’s all that noise, Georgios?” I asked, when he finally called me back. “Are you in a bar?”
“No, no, Nikolai, it is the protesters; they are right outside our window. Layabouts!”
“The thing is, Georgios, I’m going to be in Athens with a very big cheque next week, ready to complete one of the year’s most significant EMEA transactions. I don’t want some red-brick mid-market dullard coming along at the last minute and pinching it from under my fingertips.”
He laughed uproariously. “You have nothing to worry about there, Nikolai. Greece will submit to the rule of a tyrant before the vendor finds another buyer like you, my friend!”
You see, this is what I like about Georgios – he has a great way of putting one’s mind at ease.