Faye Maughan, one of ECI’s Investment Managers, discusses why she wanted to join ECI, what’s surprised her since joining, and the lessons she’s learned about slowing down and taking stock during the pandemic.
Why did you choose private equity for a career?
I did an economics degree, and off the back of that went into investment banking, which gave me a lot of exposure to what else is out there. As I became more aware of private equity, I liked that it was more long term than just working on a deal. You’re responsible for your decisions in the long run, which makes it a lot more fulfilling. I also like the fact it’s based around people, and you get a lot of exposure to management teams who have built really impressive businesses.
When looking at firms to join, why was ECI the right choice for you?
I’d worked with them before, and I’d got a good feel for their culture. I also used to work with Michael Butler and Daniel Bailey, so I knew people who worked here which means you can get an honest opinion! I think the main way I’d describe it, is that the way ECI approached things was really reasonable.
They had a good EQ for situations, and they’d consider things in context, and just act in a very balanced and friendly way. It’s not a huge market so you pick up on the personalities of firms pretty quickly.
Has anything surprised you since joining?
Something that you don’t necessarily grasp from the outside, is that there is always a sense of ECI thinking, ‘what next’ and improving things. They’re very considered about themselves as a company, not just when it comes to deals or management teams.
What have been some of the most interesting projects you’ve worked on?
The CSL deal we completed in August was fascinating as it was done in lockdown on a hugely accelerated timeline. It showed me how flexible you can be if you need to be. Some things were definitely more difficult remotely, but actually being able to meet virtually with all our advisors for diligence, rather than just faceless calls, was helpful, and meant you could do a lot more.
Outside of deals, I worked closely on our People Project, helping our management teams with the transition to remote working in 2020. I learned a lot about the legal and political elements of it, but also speaking to the HR leaders across our portfolio and understanding how they were managing, not just the logistics but also the pastoral parts of it. Things like Moneypenny sending out hundreds of boxes of chocolate brownies, I just think it was amazing how teams were able to motivate people who were working from home.
What advice would you give someone looking to join the world of private equity?
I think they need to understand what kind of firm they want to join. What kind of investing they want to do, and what kind of culture they want to join. I knew I wanted to work for a growth focused investor so I could see the positive impact of what I was doing, in the company and in terms of job creation as well. Culture can be a harder one to assess outside in, so I’d always recommend reaching out to people on LinkedIn and asking them for a quick call or a coffee. I know that I’m happy to do that a lot of the time.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
So, before even thinking about finance, I wanted to be an engineer. I actually did quite a lot of cringey engineering competitions when I was younger. I was quite into, electrical circuit board design… I was definitely a nerd when it came to stuff like that.
How do you think 2020 and the pandemic will change things for you in the long run?
I think it’s made me value different things. Before this, you’d get up, commute, you go to the gym, you get home and it’s already 9 p.m. There’s not much time to slow down and just take stock. It’s made me realise how sleep deprived we all must have been before as well. And that meant you’d have dinner plans with friends and just think, ‘I’m too tired,’ or ‘I can’t be bothered.’ So, I think it’s made me realize the importance of slowing down, and the importance of going out when you have the opportunity!
Quick fire with Faye:
What superpower would you most like at the moment?
I’d like to be able to teleport, partially to circumvent travel restrictions, but also it would just make my trips back north much easier!
Have you ever had 15 minutes of fame?
I was once on Sky Sports. They asked me where I’d take Victoria Beckham shopping if she came to live in Sunderland, because there was a story about how the WAGs wouldn’t want to live there so they couldn’t attract good players. You can tell it was a long time ago!
Who would play you in a film?
Meryl Streep. Purely because if I’m going to be in a film, I want it to win an Oscar.
Did you learn anything new in lockdown?
I learned how to grow a sourdough starter, and then how to kill it.
Any new year’s resolutions for 2021?
Every year I say that I’m going to do a half marathon. 2019, I broke my ankle and couldn’t do it. 2020, it was cancelled. So, if I say it, I keep getting get out of jail free cards, so I should probably keep claiming it.