Laura Sisson, Investment Manager

Laura recently joined our Manchester office from KPMG’s Transaction Services team. Lockdown is certainly a strange time to be joining YFM, and we asked her to share her experiences of her first week with the firm.

Monday

My first day at YFM has arrived, and this will certainly be one to remember. Who could have predicted, when I handed my notice in to my former employer at the start of the year, that my transition from one job to another would all take place under lockdown, closing one laptop and chapter of my career to open the next, all while sitting in the same chair?

I wake up and it suddenly crosses my mind – what do you wear on your first day in this ‘new normal’? No longer does putting on your best suit, as proud as your first day at school, seem all that appropriate. I find neutral territory with a smart jumper and tracksuit bottoms (no one can see beneath the desk after all!) and take my place in my spare room for the start of a new journey.

I’m instantly relieved when I join a Monday morning call on Microsoft Teams to find an array of attire amongst my new colleagues, all by now veterans of the Covid-19 working from home setup. I say hello as I’m welcomed to the team, and spend the rest of the meeting frantically hovering my mouse across the screen to the find the name of each new face that pops up to talk, the new world equivalent of the first day office tour to shake everyone’s hand.

I open my calendar to find that a series of ‘Teams talks’ have kindly been lined up throughout the week for me to meet the team and learn more about YFM. Meanwhile, my inbox holds details of three potential investment opportunities for me to review – a relief to see that there are businesses out there who have been able to respond to this new environment and are still looking to their next phase of growth.

I open the first Information Memorandum, and the real work begins.

Wednesday

It’s the middle of the week, and for YFM, that means time for the Hump Day lockdown quiz. Having been running for a number of weeks already, I’ve got a long climb up the leaderboard ahead of me – and starting with ‘Name the ten sports trophies/competitions’ is certainly not a subject that’s going to help me in that mission!

What a whirlwind three days it’s been. From virtual introductions with my Investment Manager peer group and some of the wider team, to debating appetite for new investment ideas, to hearing of the ongoing work to understand and navigate the Covid-19 impact on YFM’s portfolio businesses – as Benjamin Disraeli once said, “there’s no education like adversity”.

It’s in this context, and that of my own learning curve, that I realise how much I’d previously taken for granted the ease, in a typical first week office setting, of simply turning round and tapping a colleague on the shoulder to ask them a question. No such luck in lockdown.

But what a godsend technology has proved to be – one click in Teams and I can be having a ‘face to face’ discussion, sometimes with a virtual trip in the background to the beach or even outer space! I’ve quickly learned the importance of remaining alert during these discussions, however – it turns out YFM also has a weekly competition for the best capture of funny poses and facial expressions, and I don’t plan on being the winning victim!

Friday

It’s the end of week one, and it feels like a real milestone. My team has decided to progress and find out more about two of the three opportunities I learned of earlier in the week – what are the chances my first completion could also be the first entrant into the new buyout fund?

Faced with the very real risk of arriving at the start of this week and finding myself with little to do, I’ve been so pleased to land in the midst of a hive of activity, with the team truly having turned these challenging times into an opportunity for learning and growth. I’ve hit the ground running, and all with the socially distant support of my new colleagues, who have truly made me feel a welcome member of the team.

We finish the day with a virtual team drink, each taking our laptops outside to unwind and welcome the weekend in with our own piece of sunshine. It’s safe to say that, much like my beverage of choice, YFM life under lockdown feels like my cup of tea.

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