We chat with Victoria Gustavsson about what made her want to work in private equity origination, the psychology of economic behaviours and whether she prefers London or New York…
Q: What does your role within the ECI Origination Team entail?
Simply put, trying to find businesses for ECI to invest in, then additionally I also support the portfolio with sourcing bolt-ons. For both those aspects that might entail everything from subsector research, trends research, or leveraging our AI tool Amplifind™, then from there it’s reaching out to businesses, and understanding their growth story. But yes, it’s all about building out that longer term pipeline.
Q: What made you choose that job to start your career?
I was interested in work that would expose me to different kinds of businesses and people, and I wanted a job where each day was different. I was curious to discover more about what separates certain businesses from the pack. That meant the Origination role stuck out, it gives you exposure to so many industries.
While I hadn’t done finance before, I had done a Masters in psychology of economic life, which is really just about understanding economic behaviours. It was very interesting to study it during COVID because it was when a lot of government policies were around influencing behaviour, particularly around spending.
Q: Does that help you in private equity?
It does help as we evaluate various businesses, and I think one of the key differentiators for success is businesses who really understand why their customers and why those customers buy from them. It’s that which drives us to want to invest in one business over another. Having an understanding of what shapes that economic behaviour is really helpful to making that evaluation.
Q: How does your international background help you in your day-to-day role?
So, I’m originally from Sweden, but I grew up in Belgium where I was at an international school, then I moved to New York for my undergrad, and I’ve been in London for the last three years. I think that background has made me more open-minded. I grew up with people with different perspectives and experiences compared to me. I think that gave me more curiosity which shaped the career I’ve chosen. In origination we will oftentimes be the first point of contact speaking with different management teams, I think being curious and open about them, and about their business, is key to the role.
Q: Do you think private equity is becoming more sophisticated around tech and data?
I think that accuracy and quality of data that you have is a key differentiator now for private equity firms. It is how you spot exciting businesses as early as possible. Luckily that has been on ECI’s radar for quite a while and in my role, I work very closely with our proprietary AI platform, Amplifind™. I see the businesses that probably wouldn’t have crossed our desk without it, so I see firsthand how that data drives origination.
Q: Are there any exciting areas you’re focusing on currently?
I work closely with the Compliance & Certification subsector team and actually that has is a really exciting one to track at the moment. In terms of wider market trends, we see that regulation and a focus on ESG is just accelerating, and you can see it will continue in that direction of travel. So, companies that can help businesses solve those challenges, and better position them with customers, are seeing huge growth opportunities.
Quick Fire with Victoria:
London or New York?
This is going to be controversial, but although I consider London home I have to go with New York, it’s just the coolest place in the world, it’s where everything starts.
Who would play you in a movie?
This is a very hard one to answer, but I’ve been told Keri Russell and Carey Mulligan before so let’s go with one of those!
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
Just do the next right thing. For me that really helps me to focus on what’s in front of me, especially when I’m overwhelmed.
Scary movie or romcom?
So, obviously this does depend on my mood, but I think scary movies help me get into the autumn mood and I think it’s still Halloween season!
What’s the first thing you plan on a sunny weekend?
I think just get outside as much as possible, go to the park with friends or play some tennis. You can’t take a sunny weekend for granted in London!
If you could travel in space or time, what would you choose?
What I’ve learned from movies is that nothing good can come from either one, so I’d actually say neither. But if I had to choose I would say time, there’s so much to explore, maybe go see the Vikings in Sweden!