Acta Ventures Guest Speakers: Casey Totten and Andrew Yancey

On February 26th, 2019, Acta Ventures hosted Casey Totten and Andrew Yancey from PNC for a very informative discussion.  Acta Ventures and GTE are closely aligned and both looking to acquire middle market firms. Therefore, they frequently hold joint events to continue the growth of the CMU private equity community. Casey holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame, and his current position at PNC is Relationship Manager. Andrew has a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business from the Virginia Military Institute, and later went on to complete his MBA at CMU’s very own Tepper School of Business. His current role at PNC is Assistant Vice President of Commercial Banking Strategy.

After a brief introduction and discussion of their backgrounds, Andrew and Casey discussed the various responsibilities of their positions as well as a general overview of how PNC is structured. The pair then used their broad combined knowledge to field and answer questions from Acta and GTE’s intern classes about a variety of topics. They gave very interesting and detailed responses on a number of things such as PNC’s long-term strategies, the influx of new competition from both traditional banks and FinTech firms, new marketing and customer relations innovations, and the various departments housed within the bank.

Casey and Andrew offered the interns invaluable knowledge about working at a large bank and the corporate finance world overall. GTE thanks Casey and Andrew for their time, expertise, and advice.

Acta Ventures can be found at https://www.actaventures.com/

GTE Guest Speaker: Brett Fulesday

On February 22nd, GTE hosted Brett Fulesday for pizza and a conversation about his experiences in his professional life. Brett, a Pittsburgh native, attended Boston University graduating with a degree in accounting in 2003. After graduating, Brett became a consultant at Gleason & Associates where he focused on valuation and enjoyed the steep learning curve the position brought. After working at Gleason for over four years he was approached by a recruiter who had an opening that afforded his more work in valuation which he enjoyed. The position at KPMG allowed Brett to stay in Pittsburgh and not have to travel to different locations due to the financial recession in 2008. At KPMG he worked on valuing new companies in Boston, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Houston, and more. He became the only manager at KPMG in Pittsburgh and had no regional team. At this point, he was given the options to either move to a different location, or leave the company. After leaving KPMG, Brett became a manager at Grossman Yanak & Ford doing work that became repetitive and unenjoyable to him. After two years Brett decided to look elsewhere and found a job with Deloitte. However, after a lunch meeting, he knew it wasn’t for him and had to ask for his old position back after it had been filled. Being put into an awkward position he found a different job with HBK that he had to travel three times a week to Ohio. Quickly becoming annoyed with commuting he left with no job lined up.

Deciding he wanted to learn more he attended an event for Pittsburgh product developers and ran into his former partner at Grossman Yanak & Ford who asked him how he had been. Choosing to be honest with his former boss, he told her he was unemployed after being in a job he did not enjoy. Being sympathetic, she offered to get Brett in contact with H2R where he currently is today. At his current position, Brett splits his time between tax, valuation of companies, and valuing litigation.

We would like to thank Brett for coming in to talk to us about his career and the many positions he has held in the accounting and valuation sectors.

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GTE Guest Speaker: Dave Edwards

On February 15th, GTE hosted Dave Edwards via videocall for an enlightening discussion about his background, the asset management industry, and current market conditions. Dave is currently an Equity Analyst for a Dallas-based Investment Management firm. He is a graduate of world-renowned Yale University. After graduation, he launched a tech startup focused on finance-related data analytics. After about a year, he left that role and went to work for Highmark Health in their Corporate Development and Strategic Investments department. In this role, Dave helped identify many high-growth companies, including the very successful health technology firm Axial Healthcare. He stayed with Highmark for four years, before he decided to go to business school at Carnegie Mellon University, where he was classmates with our very own OIR Phil Hahn. Because he was interested in investing from a very young age, Dave transitioned to the asset management industry post-graduation, where he is currently employed.

Dave provided our intern class with plenty of priceless first-hand knowledge. In addition to sharing general career advice, he explained in detail the different paths young people can take to get a position like his. Dave also had a thought-provoking discussion with our interns about current market trends, stocks he likes, and how to get started with personal investing. He mentioned that in many cases, young people have an advantage over older “experts” in the investing world, because they’re the first to identify emerging trends. He advised that some of the best investments people make are often products or services they come across in their day-to-day lives.

We thank Dave for taking the time out of his busy schedule to speak with us, and look forward to speaking with him in person the next time he is in the Pittsburgh area.

GTE Guest Speaker: Carl Koubek

On February 8th, GTE hosted Carl Koubek for lunch and talk about his background and founding of Acta Ventures. Carl is a graduate of Boston College where he obtained degrees in both business management and finance. After receiving his degree, he interned at GSK while starting his masters of business administration at Carnegie Mellon University- Tepper School of Business in order to learn and to grow his professional network in Pittsburgh. After graduating from CMU, Carl worked for PNC as an internal consultant pitching ideas to improve the organizational design. After two and a half years of working for PNC Carl along with a partner founded Acta Ventures.

Acta Ventures looks for companies to partner with in order to grow the company into a profitable partnership. Acta looks to be a consultant to its partners in the short term helping them with technology and finance. Carl shared insights and humor with GTE about his work in both the corporate world and the consultant world as well as his background and education.

We would like to thank Carl for coming to talk to us and for the insightful advice he gave.

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Acta Ventures Guest Speaker: Thomas Freyvogel

On February 7th, 2019, Acta Ventures hosted Thomas Freyvogel, a senior associate attorney within Reed Smith’s Global Corporate Group.  GTE and Acta Ventures are closely aligned and both looking for deals in the middle market. Acta and GTE frequently hold events together to help grow the CMU private equity community. Thomas holds an undergraduate degree in history and philosophy from Boston College, an M.B.A. from Duquesne University, and a J.D. from the Catholic University School of Law.  His main areas of practice at Reed Smith include corporate and securities transactions, corporate governance, and general corporate matters. Transactionally, Thomas’s work includes domestic and cross-border M&A, joint ventures, and private equity transactions, among others.

Thomas centered his discussion around two things: explaining the legal aspects of search funds, and providing a color commentary of the positives and negatives he has experienced providing counsel for search fund transactions.

Thomas explained the general procession of search fund legal documents leading up to the acquisition: first, an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) is signed, which is essentially a contract between any two parties that signifies a confidential relationship exists between them. Secondly, assuming the deal has made progress, an IOI (indication of interest) is typically signed, which expresses a conditional, non-binding interest by one party in purchasing a security of, majority or minority stake in, or entire company from an additional party that is currently in registration. Last, an LOI (letter of intent) is signed, which is essentially a more binding version of an IOI and outlines the terms of a deal and provides a grounds for deal negotiation.

The role of attorneys throughout the process depends on which party they are representing. If counsel is representing a potential seller, he or she will be responsible for analyzing IOIs and LOIs proposed by potential acquirers and ensuring that the terms are fair. If the attorney is representing a potential buyer, he or she will be responsible for formulating IOIs and LOIs that will ensure that the buyer is able to freely negotiate a price for a company without risking any legal consequences.

Thomas offered the interns invaluable knowledge about the legal aspects of the search fund process and how to know if a career in business-oriented law is right for them. GTE thanks Thomas for both his time and advice.

Acta Ventures can be found at https://www.actaventures.com/

GTE Guest Speaker: Greg Martin

On February 1, GT Entrepreneurs hosted Greg Martin for lunch and a discussion about his career, venture capital & private equity, and current attractive industries. Greg is a Vice President at 3 Rivers Capital. He is a graduate of University of Missouri-Columbia. From there he went on to attend University of California – School of Law where he got his J.D. He then began working at Winston & Strawn LLP as an Associate Attorney. He then attended Carnegie Mellon University – Tepper School of Business to receive his MBA with concentrations in finance, economics and entrepreneurship. While at Tepper, Greg worked at Ravel Law as a Business Strategy & Development Intern and founded CaseTree and served as CEO. He then became Director and Turnaround Management Consultant at Compass Advisory Partners LLC. Later, Greg became a Senior Associate at 3 Rivers Capital.

Greg shared some insights into the many different paths to Private Equity, such as consulting vs investment banks. He talked about the different types of challenges he has faced when working with small businesses and where he finds the most initial value is. He also spoke about the ideal industries he would like to move into. He also compared the different roles he has had from practicing law to work he has done post-MBA. He talked about how his legal education has wired his brain differently to attack issues a different way which proves to be a current asset when communicating with attorneys. He also touched about the differences that he has found having worked in a large firm setting versus a small boutique firm setting. He talked about the importance of networking as it has opened many opportunities for him.

Greg was adamant that he is willing to talk with anybody about their careers and to answer any questions that they might have. We thank Greg for joining us and his wonderful talk and advice.

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GT Entrepreneurs Announces Spring 2019 Private Equity Analyst Interns

Generational Transfer Entrepreneurs (“GTE”) is pleased to announce the hiring of 17 new Private Equity Analyst interns for the spring semester. These roles were filled through a rigorous search of some of the top undergraduate programs in our area. We welcome these new faces to the team and cannot wait to see the positive impact they’ll have on our firm.

The analysts began their internship on January 14th and were separated into three teams, each headed by one of GTE’s Operators-In-Residence (“OIR’s”). They will work tirelessly to identify potential acquisition targets and present preliminary proposals to their teams. If the initial proposal is accepted by the OIR, the teams will proceed to analyze the company with financial model valuations and industry research reports. In addition, GTE regularly invites industry leaders and other guest speakers to discuss relevant topics, current events, and professional advice with our staff. Our hope is that our interns will use these opportunities to gain valuable career-related experience by developing their technical, interpersonal, and networking skills.

This is the sixth search team for GTE. These interns have ties to the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, and more. They each have their own unique backgrounds - academically, culturally, and professionally - and the diverse perspectives they bring to the company will help their fellow analysts and OIR’s grow to broaden their horizons. GTE looks forward to having our interns set and accomplish both individual and career-related goals while generating leads, evaluating deals, and formulating initiatives to move us forward. To learn more about GTE and our team, check out our website at GTentrepreneurs.com.

 

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GTE Event: Resume Review

Earlier this month, GTE held a resume review event for all undergrad interns. The event was lead by the Search Manager, Bobby Septak and by Operator-in-Residence Dave Jasnos. Both went through different approaches to how a resume can be organized, as well as giving advice about what the content of a resume should be. Dave introduced the interns to how the Carnegie Mellon Tepper MBA program teaches its students to lay out their resumes. This includes a more direct approach to displaying the skills you want the employer to know you possess and focuses on the STAR method to communicate what skills you possess . Bobby talked about the content of your resume and how to manipulate it to work in your favor. This could be through wording are including eye-catching numbers that pique the reader’s interest.

After the presentations, both Bobby and Dave were available to meet individually to speak about how to apply the concepts on your own resume and how to best display your skills and what you want it to say. In those meetings, we talked about how the resume would be used. This included what kind of job it would be submitted for and how to use it in an interview. They talked about prioritizing certain experiences that are relevant to the job that you are applying for and reorganizing the resume so that those experiences are highlighted or at the top. They also shared advice about how employers may use the resume in interviews and how you can effectively answer those questions and steer your answers towards the topics you want to speak about and not just the ones that they ask about.

The interns highly appreciate Bobby and Dave for taking their time away from their primary responsibilities to share their knowledge on this crucial topic and skill that is writing a good resume. Furthermore, all of the GTE staff - Bobby, Dave, Gabe, and Phil - have expressed their willingness to review resumes and talk about interviews at any time as well so that anyone can get as many perspectives as possible on their resume.

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GTE Guest Speaker: Jamie Van Buren

On November 13th, GT Entrepreneurs brought in Jamie Van Buren as a guest speaker. Jamie, the  Managing Director of GT Entrepreneurs, took a roundabout route that eventually brought him to investing in businesses through a search fund accelerator. He learned a lot along the way and shared with us all of his lessons in entrepreneurship.

After studying marine biology at Juniata College, Jamie gravitated towards business. He earned his MBA then went on to work in real estate appraisal. As a hyper productive worker in the residential side of real estate appraisal, he moved on to commercial real estate, even purchasing properties of his own.

Jamie’s career path soon brought him to business and operations. Staying in Hollidaysburg, he began working with a major construction materials supplier and a general contractor in the public and private sectors e. The family company he worked for focused on manufactured products and highway construction projects across the Mid-Atlantic region. With his accumulated knowledge in this industry and finance, Jamie eventually decided that he wanted to acquire and run his own company.

His research brought him to the realization that his best bet was in purchasing an already established company. Jamie implemented his search strategy, finding PennStress and closing on the deal in only 3 weeks. The company is a manufacturer of bridges, stadiums, parking garages, and even prisons, with their specialty being in the concrete erection of buildings. Before he came in and turned the business around, PennStress was a failing branch of New Enterprise.

As the current president of PennStress,  Jamie started GT Entrepreneurs to help other prospective entrepreneurs find businesses and get financial backing. The company was born out of the philosophy of eliminating the risks that usually come with search, which are the limited time frame and the difficulty of finding capital. GT Entrepreneurs has most recently successfully brought together Brenden Van Buren, Jamie’s son, and his new company, Pro Max Fence Systems.

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GTE Guest Speaker: John Nolan

On November 2 GTE hosted John Nolan for lunch and a discussion about his career, asset management, and current market trends. John is a Vice President of Retirement Solutions at PNC’s Institutional Asset Management Group. He is a graduate of Xavier University. From there he began working at Fidelity Investments as a High Net Worth Financial Representative. He then became the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Coffing Data Warehousing after he met his wife. Later he would move on to be a Financial Advisor at PNC before moving into his current position. He is also working towards completing the CFA designation.

John shared some insights into the types of work in the asset management space, such as the difference between personal and institutional asset management. He talked about the different types of customers that each side will work with and some of their tendencies, such as institutional customers being less reactionary than personal customers in volatile markets. He also compared the different roles available, like sales and advisory, portfolio management, or leadership. He said that portfolio management is a more individual role in which you are responsible for yourself and your portfolio. Sales and Advisory is a customer facing role in which you will deal with many different situations and on a daily basis. Leadership roles put you in charge of a group of people in one of the previous roles, whether it be in a broad or specific area. He also spoke about more broad trends in the market, like types of investing and different investment products available. He spoke about the differences between passive and active investing and the momentum around passive investing. He also explained different retirement accounts such as IRA’s, Roth IRA’s, 401k’s, and Target Date Funds.

John was adamant that he is willing to talk with anybody about PNC and potential positions there. He is more than happy to receive emails with questions about such things. He also gave a bit of advice around the CFA designation, if you plan to do it, start it sooner rather than later. We thank John for joining us and his wonderful talk and advice.


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