Dylan Jaya

Betting on a distressed businesses, then helping them unlock potential.
Investment Associate
@
Allegro Funds

How did you get here?

I started my career about 5 years ago and I’ve spent that across PwC as a Deals (Business Restructuring) consultant, Partners in Performance as a management consultant and now I’m at Allegro Funds (turnaround focused PE fund) as an investment associate.

At PiP, my work was a blend of pure strategy, value diagnostics (opportunity sizing business improvement initiatives), operational implementation and commercial due diligence.

What options were you considering?

I actually left consulting a bit earlier than I had intended - I always had a 2-3 year tenure in mind to build out the classic skillset. After that, I thought the natural next step was to do something hands on and close to the front line - maybe a role in strategy/operations or a start-up where I saw myself delivering products or initiatives.

Obviously, every forecast fails to predict the future. Out of the blue, I got a call from the leadership of a PE firm that I had done a project for at PIP. I actually thought they called to interrogate some of my assumptions, but it was instead an offer to come into a hiring process. This reignited my interest with PE (that I originally had through my restructuring experience, but deprioritised once I moved away from a deal environment). It was honestly a perfect storm of my turnaround background, building a reputation for delivering good outcomes and getting facetime with people I enjoyed working with.

How did you make the decision to take your current role?

Going through an interview process, what had me hooked was the people. I wanted to make sure the people I was working with would be supportive of my skill-curve and the interviews really validated that for me. PE teams are quite small and so unlike consulting where you can switch projects, your team is your ride or die.

What are you doing now?

My role as a PE investor involves 1) sourcing, reviewing and executing on deal opportunities, 2) helping your existing portfolio companies get to where you think they can go and 3) finding and executing on the exit for your portfolio companies.

What does your day to day look like?

On any given day, the mix of the above really depends on what life stage your fund is at and how your portfolio is performing.

For #1, you’ll have a constant flow of deals that land on your table (e.g. from advisors, market research, networks). For each of these deals, you are essentially trying to answer 3 key questions.

  1. Can I buy it? (e.g. Is there a willing seller? Am I likely to actually be the best buyer? Does it meet the expectations of my own investors?)
  2. Should I buy it? (e.g. Is it a good industry? Good management? Does the growth plan make sense? Will I make my returns?)
  3. (If 1 and 2 are covered) How do I buy it? (e.g. What will I do to win vs other buyers? What tactics will I employ to negotiate in my favour?)

In practice, the above will consist of information gathering (calls with management, the seller, industry experts, market research), due diligence (financial/ commercial/ tax/ legal/ everything else under the sun) and a variety of negotiations with different parties.

For #2, it’s all about engaging with the Management team to deliver on your hypothesis. From day 1, you’re preparing it to become a business worthy for a sale. This could mean setting the strategy/ targets with Management, supporting them to restructure the organisation, do reporting and also attending board meetings.

For #3, it’ll typically mean engaging an investment bank to go out to market, figure out what price you need to sell at to hit your returns and also interact with sale negotiations.

What do you love about your job?

It’s really exciting. Cool things can always be happening and coming to your plate. You’re privy to big market shifts that not many people know about. There’s this great energy that everyone is working toward this big explosion that is the deal, which typically isn’t the case in consulting.

It’s also a really balanced role with wide breadth. You see the whole picture, not just a workstream of function (that consultants or bankers would). At any given time, you need to accumulate all the insights from advisors, bankers, management and synthesise into a go or no go decision.

What do you not love about your job?

Probably the intensity. Having the opportunity to engage with breadth also comes with responsibility. It’s mentally intense and time consuming to take on so much information (e.g., consultants, Management, bankers, tax/ legal/ ESG advisors) and needing to synthesise it into a core buy or no buy decision.

It’s also a huge emotional investment. Sometimes you can be working hard towards a deal that dies overnight.

What advice would you give someone deciding what they should do?

There are different types of funds that have very different investment mandates (aka what they invest in and how they invest). They can vary by investing style (think turnaround, growth, and the typical leveraged buy-out fund) or industry (healthcare, tech, industrials). Taking me as an example given my experience, a turnaround fund is really good fit, whereas something in a tech-focused space would probably be a poor fit for everybody involved.

If you’re not necessarily certain on your next steps, it doesn’t hurt to keep focusing on doing a good job in your current role. Through consulting, you work with so many different clients and are able to build a genuine network and brand with a lot of really cool people - who knows where those relationships can take you. Many outbound industries for consultants (e.g. PE, VC, start-ups) are surprisingly small ecosystems so it can be powerful to make good impressions.

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