Interview Simone Poelen

Investment manager in the PE Funds team

“‘Egeria is home to a group of people who are passionate and motivated and that get the job done together. At Egeria, more so than people might realize, you sit down with business owners to be their sparring partner.”

 Simone, you work as an Investment Manager. What exactly does your job involve and what are your main duties?
That’s quite a difficult question to answer as it involves a lot of different things. But one thing I spend a lot of my time on is maintaining a bird’s eye perspective of everything that goes on at our portfolio companies and with the deals. As an IM you need to know what’s going on and form yourself an opinion on all these developments. Our team works in three particular areas: sourcing; seeking out new companies, deals; transaction, bid, due diligence and negotiating, and portfolio management; monitoring all developments within our companies.

On a typical day, I could be in the car on my way to see a business owner to make their acquaintance or continue talks. Back in the car, I’ll be on the phone speaking to one of my colleagues, to catch up on what’s going on at another company. And then I find myself back at the office sitting down with fellow team members to continue working up a bid or a collaboration with a business owner.

So it is a wide range of meetings, phone calls, coordinating work with fellow team members and continue working on plans and ideas. All for a variety of companies across various phases. I guess it’s safe to say to say the job is varied and very dynamic!

Do you enjoy that? This dynamic?
Yes! To me it’s a great combination of finding yourself challenged in terms of substance and detail and dealing with people. I get to work with a lot of different people which is something I derive energy from, whether these people be advisers, managers or members of our own team.

What makes your job challenging?
Precisely the fact that you are dealing with a lot of things all at the same time. It is important to take responsibility and ownership and retain a sense of overall perspective. You need to be able to say: I’ve got 10 things that need doing, so which 3 or 5 of these things do I focus on first? You are dealing with tax, financial, legal and management issues, on which you need to form an opinion and take the lead in arriving at decisions. I really enjoy this challenge. A good result, that’s what I am going for and I need variation and challenge, all of which are definitely aspects of the job.

You came in from a different line of business. Why did you go for Private Equity and decide on this job in particular?
I first worked as a consultant and then I became part of the management team of a European transport company. I gained experience working as an adviser in the areas of deals and strategy. After that, I got to grips with the actual practice myself and learned what it is like to get everything you ‘thought up’ off the ground and up and running.

This made me realise I wanted to work with companies of a certain scope that pose a particular challenge. Being able to consistently focus on ‘how do we grow as a business?’ and ‘how do we create more value?’ appealed to me. In addition, working cross industry really suits me. And final, I always pursued that combination of working with people as well as dealing with the financial side of things.

So why did you specifically decide on Egeria?
The companies Egeria invests in work on growth strategies and all the issues this entails. For instance, they are looking to grow their business through acquisitions, but find themselves coming up against the question ‘How do I shape my organisation?’ or ‘How do I digitalise things?’. To me, these types of questions and the kind of companies Egeria invests in are very closely in keeping with my interests and my experience. What’s more, you’re given a great deal of responsibility and a lot of leeway at Egeria. The scope to unfold your own ideas.

During the job application process, I had various fun conversations which made me think: ‘Yes, these are people I could work with’. Egeria is home to a group of people who are passionate and motivated, who get the job done together in an entrepreneurial way, which I found very appealing. At Egeria, more so than people might realise, you sit down with business owners serving as their sparring partner. But you also reflect on things like: ‘Are these the right people in the right place?’.

What makes working at Egeria enjoyable?
Our funds team is very much a team. Whether you need a sparring partner or want to come up with an idea, there’s always someone who is happy to share their thoughts or help out. The team is always keen to take up new things and jointly seek out solutions to problems we come up against. This also explains why we end up doing fun things together outside of work. It is about togetherness, but obviously there is no must for people to do everything together. If you believe something is important you have the leeway to work up your own ideas and get things done. There are no set ways or procedures. And being able to do things my way at work is really nice, as this freedom is exactly what I need as a person. Being able to plot my own course and shape developments gives me energy.

How would you describe Egeria’s business culture?
Engaged, informal, and really great people. Right across the organisation. People sometimes think that an organisation like Egeria is all very formal, traditional or hierarchically structured, but that’s not my experience at all. Just look at the way we deal with discussing portfolio companies and deals. Those are things we do with the entire team where everybody is free to ask questions and speak out. At Egeria you are really part of a team, in every respect, and that also holds good for interns or associates.

How do you manage to combine your job and your private life?
I find I have a lot more control over my schedule than I did in any of my previous jobs. I now have more time to go to the gym during the week or arrange to see friends. Some weeks are busier than others, but part of the job as an investment manager is to take a helicopter view of deals and companies, and to look ahead at the next steps you will be taking. As a result I’m experiencing the pressures of work differently.

When I joined Egeria, I had to learn a lot of new things, and that took some time. But I was very motivated to put in the time. I have now managed to strike the right balance for myself and I’m enjoying the time I spend with friends on the tennis court or having a drink on a terrace.

What type of people would be fit for the job of Investment Manager at Egeria?
You need to be interested in companies; how they work, how they grow and how investments work. At Egeria, you are taught how to think and act as an investor.

You need to be unafraid to take decisions and tackle things head on. And working with portfolio company managers is something that should make you tick. If you’re looking to work with business owners and companies, then the job could be just the thing for you.

    • Upload date
    • July 19, 2022