Ashleigh James – Accelerate Team
Ashleigh joined Pemba Capital Partners in 2022. Prior to this, Ashleigh worked at PwC for 5 years as a Manager in the Mergers & Acquisitions team. Here, she advised private equity and mid-market corporate clients on transactions across a range of sectors. She also has experience in the PwC Corporate Value Advisory team where she measured and realised value from acquisitions, restructuring and investments.
If you could have dinner with any three people in the world (past or present), who would they be and why?
My first guest would be David Attenborough. He is so full of life experiences and has a depth of knowledge about the world and all creatures on it that is arguably unmatched. My second guest would be Jacinda Ardern. As New Zealand’s youngest ever female prime minister, Jacinda was also the second world leader to give birth whilst in office. Her approach to politics in a challenging environment has been refreshing and modern, coming from a caring approach that has seemed to empower and support people. Finally, I would invite Ed Sheeran to bring the entertainment. He is such a successful and talented performer, yet still comes across as a very humble person, I think he would make a great addition to the table.
What was your dream job as a kid growing up?
I have always been mad about animals, so growing up I wanted to be a vet. This dream unfortunately never made it to reality when I came to realise that even the thought of needles tends to make me faint!
If you could only travel back to the same holiday destination for the rest of your life, where would you pick and why?
This is a very tough one, as I love to travel and explore new places! If I had to choose one, it would have to be Italy – it really has it all, from some of my favourite food, history, culture, beautiful beaches and coastal towns through to the Alps and the Italian Lakes.
When making the switch from PwC to Pemba, what attracted you to Pemba specifically?
I am immensely grateful for my time at PwC and the opportunity I had to learn valuable skills, particularly on the sell-side of transactions. What excited me about the move to Pemba was the opportunity to support businesses on their growth journey post-transaction. Pemba itself is a common name in the Sherpa communities of Nepal and like a Sherpa, we aspire to empower founders and management teams to reach their goals, or ‘summits’. I felt very aligned to this partnership model and the cultural values that underpin Pemba, so this was one of the big draws to making the move.
What advice could you give to someone finishing University who is looking to make it in the industry?
Coming out of university the best advice I could give is to continue creating meaningful relationships with your cohort as well as people in the industry. Internships, such as those offered at Pemba, are a fantastic way to build your network and allow you to get practical experience and an understanding of what a career in private equity would look like day to day. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people through LinkedIn or mutual friends and in the early days of any career, approach everything with an eagerness to learn and a positive attitude.
Ashleigh’s book recommendation:
A recent favourite is ‘The Resilience Project’ by Hugh van Cuylenburg. A beautiful book that has now been passed through much of my friendship group.