What prompted you to leave private equity?
An entrepreneurial calling. I was always pretty involved in quasi-entrepreneurial activities within the firms during my PE tenure. I was the first on-the-ground investment manager at investee companies in Russia and Ukraine; established the EU private equity fund of funds business for RMF [Investment Group] in Switzerland; and I rolled out the Asian PE fund of funds platform for CapDyn.
I reckoned that I love pioneering, building things and taking risk. So in 2015, I came across an entrepreneurial opportunity in the Philippines and told myself: this is your chance to do it yourself – 100 percent own risk and reward!
And what was your role in private equity?
For the last 10 years I was involved in pretty much everything to do with formulating and implementing strategy, fundraising, client service and representing CapDyn for Asian affairs within fund of funds and separate account strategies for institutional clients worldwide.
Are there any similarities between what you’re doing now and what you did at CapDyn?
Technically, I do very different things now. But from a fundamental point of view I am not that far removed from what I did before; CapDyn let me be an ‘entrepreneur’ within the firm. All the skills I acquired are 100 percent transferable to what I do now – whether it’s people management, judgment of people and opportunities, number crunching or selling ideas and projects.
What do you miss the most about the industry?
I love the PE industry – I always did. And I’m still partially engaged on a consulting basis; I focus on worthy new GP managers in the Asian region and coach them for fundraising events and roadshows. These are crucial periods in one’s private equity life; one small mistake can cost the GP a fortune. With more than 17 years in the industry, wearing both the investment manager’s and fundraiser’s hats, I want to help the worthy GPs avoid unnecessary mistakes.
What would you say was your defining moment when in PE?
It was in autumn 2005; after an intensive year of travelling and market research in Asia, I succeeded in convincing CapDyn to do business in the region. In 2006, I let go and transferred for good to Hong Kong, and four years later in 2010 we managed over $1 billion in Asian assets! None of that would have been possible without the support of Thomas Kubr, who signed off on my going to Hong Kong. I am forever grateful for the opportunity he gave me.
What does a typical day look like for you now?
Managing people, motivating them and getting results from them. The mentality and business environment has its own character in the Philippines, so I push and pull to get things done. I have made some mistakes, but overall I am very happy with the outcome. My fiancée comes from the Philippines, and without her I would have not been able to master all the challenges. She is a crucial part how we approach and establish the business. She’s my ‘local eye!’