Mark Bryan – Director and Head of the Accelerate Team
Mark has over 20 years capital markets experience at leading investment banks and a wealth advisory business. These roles have provided expertise in equity valuation, IPO processes, strategic & financial planning, investor communication and fundraises among others.
Prior to Pemba in 2020, Mark was Head of Research at Wilsons, a leading wealth advisory business with a strong niche in small-to-mid caps. Additionally, Mark led the technology research franchise specialising in cloud platforms and was instrumental in the IPO’s of ELMO, ReadyTech and Whispir.
Before Wilsons, Mark spent 6 years with Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a Director in Sydney leading the small-to-mid-cap research team and also covered the gaming sector. During his tenure, the gaming team was ranked No.1 in the All-Asia Institutional Investor survey and he was individually voted No.1 in the StarMine 2012 awards. Mark also completed the IPO of MYOB in 2015.
What prompted your move to private equity, and specifically Pemba, after 20 years in listed markets?
The two-decade experience within listed markets provided great insights around investing through the cycle across various sectors, identifying strong investment cases and interacting with management teams and Boards. Prior experience also included being part of teams that IPO’d four high-quality SaaS businesses (MYOB, Whispir, ELMO and Readytech), with the latter being a Pemba partner company. These are all skills and experiences that are being fully utilised in the PE role. With regards to Pemba, the strong track-record on mid-market tech-deals was aligned with my sector passion and the opportunity to build and shape a team from the ground-up was attractive. Adding and growing young talent has been a gratifying part of my career in recent years.
Most of your career has been on the sell-side conducting research on listed companies. What skills do you believe the private businesses you’re now looking at stand to gain from your experience?
It has been extremely rewarding to build some strong relationships with our partners companies. A deep-domain knowledge developed in the tech/gaming sectors has been leveraged to help founders on business positioning and generally scaling for growth. The sell-side role also means you develop a strong network of industry contacts which has been leveraged to help our partner companies. Ultimately, when you are on the sell-side you are publicly accountable for your stock-recommendations, meaning it is important to be able to identify quality businesses. These skills are being deployed to help Pemba target strong businesses, as well as help founders develop their businesses into long-term winners that will drive premium exits.
Within Pemba, you lead the Accelerate team, which is a relatively new team established last year. What should prospective partners companies be most excited about on what the Accelerate team can offer them?
Pemba has built the Accelerate team to ultimately drive value-accretion within our partner companies. Over the last 18 months we have invested in talent, process and built a strong network of consultants with specialised skills that can be deployed within our partner companies. The core value proposition of Accelerate is focussed around, (1) driving strategically sensible buy-and-build strategies in unison with partner companies to add scale, (2) providing strategic and operational insights at the Board-level leveraging our internally designed Sherpa Toolkit which focusses on helping with value-additions, and (3) ultimately preparing our partner companies for successful exits.
You spend a lot of your time working with the management teams of the businesses that we have partnered with. What has impressed you the most about these management teams?
A lot of our partner companies are founder-led businesses. I have been really impressed and have the utmost respect for our founders. They are dynamic, hard-working individuals who have often built businesses from the ground-up. I really admire how they continue to evolve and look to scale to the next level. This often involves developing new-skills, methodologies, and org-charts for the next phase of growth. Ultimately, Pemba are the “Sherpas” with management leading the journey and we are in the background, so it is great to see management-teams forging ahead and changing-up their businesses, adopting new processes, supplementing with new products and services, and generally adding significant value for all shareholders.
We both share a passion for Cricket. What are your predictions for the upcoming Ashes series? Who’s going to stop Steve Smith assuming he’s at full fitness?
Great question. Both countries need a good Ashes to wash-out all the COVID chaos from the last two years. As always, the Aussies will be tough to beat at home. The barmy army will also be down in numbers, that said, news of Ben Stokes touring is a massive positive for England. I am bullish England – but always am!
Mark’s book recommendation:
Mindset – Dr Carol S Dweck