Darden Private Equity Speaker Series: UVA Darden Alumnus on the Operations Side of PE
By Dave Hendrick
The opportunity to focus on operational expertise and build meaningful relationships with entrepreneurs and operators spurred Revelstoke Capital Partners Principal Anthony Hayes’ (MBA ‘15) move from investment banking to private equity, where the Darden alum in recent years has helped grow a series of health care-related businesses.
Speaking virtually to the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Private Equity Club as part of the student club’s speaker series, Hayes described his career journey from electrical engineer to his first post-Darden job working in healthcare M&A at an investment bank to joining the Denver-based Revelstoke as its ninth employee.
“I wanted to do something more operational long-term,” said Hayes, who now invests in and serves on the boards of leading health care companies across orthopedics, ophthalmology, physical therapy and veterinary services.
The Darden graduate said the firm typically invests in businesses where a founder or entrepreneur is seeking capital and assistance to take their company to the next level.
“We look for people who have funded the growth of their business — healthcare providers or entrepreneurs — but who are capital constrained and can’t grow as fast as they want,” said Hayes. “We want to partner with people who will continue to have skin in the game and are looking to accelerate growth, organically or through M&A.”
In practice, that growth often involves laying an operational foundation by hiring best-in-class management teams, leveraging the Revelstoke Portfolio Transformation Group (an in-house group of health care consultants to capitalize on operational opportunities), optimizing organic growth through same-store sales and de novo sites, and expanding through complementary M&A.
What the firm doesn’t do, according to Hayes: “maximize financial leverage at the outset” and put financial stress on a business. In fact, Revelstoke will sacrifice EBITDA growth at the outset of a new portfolio company partnership to make immediate investments in long-term infrastructure through systems, processes and people.
In July, Revelstoke announced closing on its 100th transaction since its 2013 founding.
Taking questions from Darden students, Hayes encouraged students interested in a similar path to take any PE-related courses offered at Darden, and to absorb the lessons from leadership and organizational behavior courses.
“A lot more of this job than you may think is about human capital,” said Hayes. “You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you don’t know how to work well with entrepreneurs, you’re not going to be successful.”
A background in investment banking is not a requirement but can help develop a lot of the core skill sets that a private equity investor will need in their early years of investing, said Hayes, and noted that his own time working on Wall Street burnished his ability to dig into financials and analyze companies.
“I think an MBA is a helpful tool and credential, but I don’t think that it’s required,” said Hayes. “If you don’t have one, you’ll need to have the requisite skillsets and a good story as to why you don’t need it.”
In the Class of 2021, more than three times as many students began their career in private equity and venture capital than in the last five years, on average.
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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