Considering the critical nature of the analyst role on a BlackArch deal team and the time commitment required to successfully run a high-touch process, closing three deals within two years is an impressive feat. While my peers at other firms would put together materials for the managing director on their deal without knowing how the materials would be used or what the next steps would be, I had the opportunity to attend and participate in meetings where materials were presented to the client and discussed. Witnessing first-hand how the team used materials in meetings enabled me to improve my work product because I could picture how the materials I was drafting would be used and tailor the content accordingly.
My first deal at BlackArch was the sale of a high-growth distribution company with a software component. Coming in straight from undergrad, I was surprised but excited by the level of responsibility given to me. Despite my limited prior experience, I was a critical member of our four-person team, participating in every discussion with our managing director, director and associate. It was a privilege to observe the work of seasoned banking professionals and, when I chimed in, I felt as though they truly valued my opinion. In fact, the most common feedback I received is that I should speak up more in team meetings because my depth of knowledge about the company is valuable for the full team. They were right – I had spent countless hours digging through the company's data and researching industry trends, so I knew more than I realized. I was expected to understand not only the details in the data but also the "big picture" of the process. The fact that each of us had a broader, qualitative understanding of the process dynamics meant the deal team served as a seamless force providing continuous support to our client and delivering a consistent message to the market.
To keep the workload reasonable, the analyst's deals are typically staggered such that no two deals are at the same stage at the same time. However, anything can happen over the course of a company's sale process, and I ended up working on two deals in the foodservice industry with very similar timelines. It was an intense experience, with the busiest stages on a deal multiplied by two. In late 2015, I flew back and forth between each company's headquarters (and back to Charlotte) so many times that I hit the requirement for status on American Airlines. The crazy travel schedule was a blessing in disguise – I had the opportunity to participate in about half of the management presentations on each deal. During these sessions, the management team met with the partners at private equity firms who were evaluating the opportunity. I heard first-hand why they were interested in the deal and where they had concerns or questions. Listening to their specific questions and commentary, I developed a better sense for what the investors were trying to achieve and how they planned to move forward with the company. Coming from the sell-side, my understanding of how a buyer evaluates a company was critical to my success in private equity interviews.
Working on three deals, including two deals in parallel, I developed a deep understanding of what makes a BlackArch process unique and, in turn, what makes the BlackArch analyst experience unique. BlackArch is differentiated by our depth of analysis and high-touch approach to marketing and, for the analyst, this means a huge amount of responsibility and exposure to both senior bankers and clients. I am closing this two-year chapter of my career somewhat exhausted but also energized by the rewarding experience and comprehensive knowledge I will carry forward to the next phase of my career.