We chat to ECI’s summer interns, Raphael and Bhavleen, about what they have worked on during their private equity internship so far, their advice for other potential applicants, and what songs they’d recommend you queuing next.
How did you find out about the ECI internship?
Raphael: I found out about the internship through the 10,000 Black Interns scheme, which I discovered through the African Caribbean Society at university. It was a simple application through the Interns scheme. I was in the investment channel, but it did mean I didn’t know which company I would be applying to. I was fortunate that it was ECI!
Bhavleen: I am a mentor with the charity ReachOut, that ECI partners with. I joined ReachOut during the pandemic as I wanted to start having an impact and it was fantastic. It took me out of my comfort zone every week and you see the young adults you’re working with really grow from the first time you meet them. ReachOut circulated an email about the different opportunities that were out there, and I saw ECI and felt like I needed to make this application having done and really enjoyed an internship at another private equity firm in the past.
What was the application and interview process like?
Bhavleen: The application process was quite simple. The first step was just to send a cover letter and CV. The first-round interview was quite casual. It was more introductory, learning about ECI and vice versa. In the second round, I had one hour to think about the investment thesis of a particular business case study and whether it was a fit for ECI or not. It wasn’t so much presenting back as more of a conversation. I really enjoyed that, and I got the answer right!
Raphael: So, after the application form through 10,000 Black Interns, it was the same process as Bhavleen. The first interview stage was a conversation around my application form, and then the last round was the investment case study. I enjoyed it; it was challenging but really helpful as it’s relevant to the work I’ve been doing assessing companies since starting the internship.
What do you think the most significant thing you’ve learned during the internship has been?
Bhavleen: I think ECI has really opened my eyes to the different routes into private equity. I’d like to work in the industry long-term, and the conversations I’ve had have highlighted to me the importance of having your fundamentals right. Lots of people have different backgrounds, but for example, hearing about people with audit backgrounds has given me more confidence about choosing that as my first career move.
Raphael: I study financial economics, but the internship at ECI was my first real insight into the private equity industry. So, there has been so much I have learned, but similarly, I think understanding the skills and steps required to work in the industry has been valuable. You have a real opportunity to observe the way people at ECI work and to ask them questions. One thing that really surprised me was the importance of soft skills and relationship management. Being able to talk to people and build a solid relationship is just as important as the financial side. That balance between emotional intelligence and the analytical side makes it such an interesting role.
Tell me about an interesting project you’ve worked on.
Raphael: During my second week I was given the opportunity to work on a live deal, BCN. I was helping the commercial team collect data on the different verticals and build analysis. It was fantastic to see my work featured in the Investment Committee papers. Sometimes you think that in internships you won’t have opportunities to work on things that have such a big impact, so I felt proud, and it was great to then see the deal complete and feel part of that process.
Bhavleen: So, recently I presented in front of the firm discussing the FinTech market. I was President of the FinTech Society at university, so I’ve been interested in the space for a while, and it was great to have that opportunity to speak in front of everyone about interesting niches in the market. It’s very high-level, in that there’s no template. It’s just me being creative about the fit with ECI’s investment criteria and competitive landscape. An interesting area, for example, is WealthTech. There’s an influx of companies like Amazon and Google entering the space, so I think there will be a lot of movement there.
Are there any other growth areas you’re interested in?
Bhavleen: I’ve been interested in the market shift from investors no longer being interested in cash-burning businesses and increasingly looking to profitable businesses with a growth revenue model. I’m interested to see how that pans out for valuations across the year.
Raphael: In the consumer brand subsector there is a very interesting trend around conscious living and sustainability. More brands are focusing on brand authenticity and ESG standards, and I think consumers are increasingly going to make decisions around brand standards and carbon neutrality.
What are you looking to do next?
Bhavleen: I am joining KPMG In September, so two weeks to cool off then right into the Audit team.
Raphael: I’m back in university for my second year, and I’ll be joining the investment and banking society there. I’m the EDI representative of my university, where I collect data on the inclusivity and diversity of students and ensure the university is making progress, so I’m looking forwards to continuing that project. Longer term, I’d like to pursue further internships and get more experience within investment banking and M&A.
Any advice for future interns?
Raphael: For people considering the Black Interns program the best advice I’d give is don’t feel imposter syndrome. Just because you got here through a diversity scheme doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the role; you went through the same rounds of interviews. And then when you’re in the internship, I’d just say be as proactive as you can. If you’re in a firm like ECI, people will want to help you, so it’s just up to you to show you want that help.
Bhavleen: Internships are a great way to step outside your comfort zone, and get a taste of the industry and the culture of a particular place. I would recommend everyone does one during university as it gives you a lot of exposure. When you’re on the internship my tip would be to make sure you have lots of conversations with people. Most people are keen to speak to you about their experiences. That means you can get your own perspective but learn from their perspectives too.
Quick Fire with Bhavleen and Raphael:
Do you have any hidden talents?
B: I’ve got none. I was thinking about this for a while, and the only truth makes me sound like a real nerd. I have the best organizational skills…
R: I can hold my breath for more than three minutes. It’s a talent I hope I never have to use to be honest.
What country is top of your travel bucket list?
B: It changes on a weekly basis, but at the moment it’s Iceland.
R: I’d love to go to the Trinidad and Tobago carnival; the videos look amazing.
What music are you likely to have queued?
B: I’d say it’s a blend of English, Hindi and Punjabi music. If you want a recommendation, listen to Lover by Diljit Dosanjh. That’s a good start.
R: If I could recommend just one song it would be “Golden” by Jill Scott. But as genres go, I love hip-hop, neo-soul, and some old-school 80’s and 90s RnB/soul music as well.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
B: This will divide the room, but the honest answer is neither.
R: I’d love to say both, but if I had to choose, definitely dog.
If you had to go on a TV show, what would you choose?
B: The Ellen Show, I feel like I’ve grown up watching Ellen at this point.
R: It would have been Total Wipeout when it was running. I’m confident I’d be good at it, but I feel like everyone says that until they’re on…
What are you looking forward to this summer?
B: I’m starting a podcast spotlighting professionals from Punjabi culture, so people with the surname Kaur or Singh. I think it’ll be an interesting niche. I’ll give it a plug, it will be called Shaking and Moving – subscribe!
R: I’m looking forward to starting the rugby season this year for my club and university.