How I Chose My Career in Finance #MyCareerStoryMonday

Name: George Iliopoulos

Class Year: 2016

Major: Finance (Minor CIS)

Position: Associate

Company: Great Hill Partners

Can you describe your career path for me?

I chose positions and developed skills that would eventually allow me to work in private equity as a tech investor. There are a lot of private equity positions, but to work in a role that directly evaluates investments, 2-3 years of investment banking is a typical prerequisite. Because of that, I took an analyst position at Piper Jaffray, a middle-market investment bank after graduating.

Interestingly, the managing director who ran my team at Piper Jaffray left the firm to become the CFO of a tech start-up. My path was a little untraditional; I followed him there and ultimately spent ~1yr in investment banking and ~1yr at a tech start-up before moving to my current role in private equity.

How did you become interested in this career?

  • I’ve always been fascinated with technology. I added Intel to the Bentley Investment Group portfolio with a pitch centered around the market opportunity for the IOT revolution. I’m also a CIS minor and took every Java class offered at Bentley.
  • Each business is a collection of people from different places that somehow come together and make / sell a product. We’re able to take what this collection of people does and summarize it in spreadsheets, marketing materials, business plans, etc. Learning what makes one of these groups of people successful vs another group is incredibly complex and satisfying to uncover.

Combining my tech and business interests is what led me to my current role.

What aspects of your position do you find most rewarding?

I think the most satisfying thing about what we do is identifying value in a potential investment that others might not see. For example: we may be willing to pay more to acquire a business than someone else because we’ve recognized that if we combine it with another company, the synergies outweigh the extra cost.

What aspects do you find most challenging?

Constantly learning new things. When I worked at a tech start-up, I knew the business I worked at cold. Now, I communicate with dozens of companies per month and continuously learn about new technology, new sectors, etc. I try my best to stay current and sound informed no matter who I’m talking to.

What advice do you have for someone preparing to enter this career?

Reach out to people on LinkedIn and via email that are in jobs that you might find interesting. Make it a habit to talk to someone at least once a month. You might realize that you really like the job you’re learning about, and you’ll shift your classes, involvements, etc. to align with the skills needed to get there. You also might realize that a job isn’t for you and you can explore something else.

Are there any Bentley specific courses or resources you would recommend to help someone pursue this career?

A lot of people who work in this industry came from liberal arts backgrounds. I’d focus on taking classes that you enjoy the most. The required finance classes for the finance majors provide a strong enough foundation.

What involvements or courses at Bentley that helped you get where you are today?

I don’t think one club or involvement made a major difference; I think it was a combination of having finance involvement (BIG, case competitions, etc.) and personal interests (music, sports, etc.). Also, the professors at Bentley are incredibly helpful. I’m extremely grateful for Professor Erhemjamts and Professor Gregory for helping me navigate college and post-college life.

 

By Yasmeen Alwani
Yasmeen Alwani CareerEdge Content Creator Yasmeen Alwani