The power of collaboration: BCMS at the Vistage Executive Summit

Vistage is the world’s largest executive coaching organisation, with a clear remit: to help CEOs and business owners grow their business through executive coaching and peer advisory groups.

At November’s Vistage Executive Summit we got to see those ideas in action, as hundreds of Vistage members and associates from across the UK descended on London to share insights, explore experiences and seek solutions to the challenges we’re all facing. It was a superb event, and the BCMS team – who ran a dedicated thought leadership session for delegates – met so many inspiring, innovative business leaders on the day.

Collaboration – building enduring positive relationships – is the key to success in business

As the name suggests, keynote speakers are often the key to a great event. The presenters included celebrated behavioural economist Roger Martin-Fagg, who has long built a reputation as someone who understands which way the headwinds are blowing. Roger offered a clear-eyed assessment of global economic trends, from investment to inflation, and how this directly impacts SMEs in the UK.

Another engaging speaker, Jitske Kramer – who as a ‘corporate anthropologist’ may have one of the world’s best job titles – spoke on the tribal nature of working environments, on how people shape culture, and culture shapes people. Vistage’s own Chief Research Officer Joe Galvin discussed why we are living in a time of ‘accelerated disruption’, with particular focus on the challenges of recruiting and retaining the best employees. According to many business owners we spoke to, this is undoubtedly the most pressing issue they are facing in 2022.

The data shows us there are not enough good employees to go around: “Humans are the fossil fuel of the growth engine,” as Joe memorably put it. The solution lies in culture, development, and valued leadership. “People don’t leave companies,” Joe maintained, “they leave bosses”.

An M&A transaction from all sides of the deal table

BCMS ran one of the breakout presentations on the day. Expertly moderated by Vistage Chair Rob Whitaker, our session focused the mechanics of a corporate finance transaction, and uniquely featured participants from all sides of the deal table: seller, buyer and advisor. It is so unusual to have all the parties from a deal in one room like this, and what we got was a fascinating three-way conversation, which really opened the bonnet of one of BCMS’ landmark Private Equity landmark deals: H2 Equity Partners’ investment in leading healthcare consumables business GBUK.

Our ‘seller’ was Guy Mills, who built GBUK into a fast-growing, dynamic healthcare business, delivering to all the UK’s NHS acute hospitals daily. Talking openly and honestly, Guy explained his rationale behind exploring the sale process, shared his first-hand experiences of the transaction and delivered some invaluable recommendations for those in the audience considering their next move.

Supplying the investor perspective was Richard Dew, Partner at H2 Equity Partners. Richard explained why GBUK was an attractive target, and the characteristics of the business that appealed specifically to H2 Equity Partners. He expertly took us through pre- and post-transaction developments, and emphasised the crucial importance of cultural fit between seller and investor. That was there for all to see: the easy rapport between Richard and Guy was testament to the fact this deal has created multiple benefits for all.

Jonathan Dunn, CEO of BCMS – who led the deal on behalf of GBUK – delivered the advisory perspective on the transaction, explaining how as advisor we helped Guy prepare for the technical demands of a competitive sale process, and how we managed the transaction on his behalf. Jonathan expanded the themes from this deal to offer delegates up-to-date perspectives on today’s M&A market, fielding thoughtful audience questions from delegates on valuation techniques, EBITDA multiples, and the complexities of buyer research and profiling. The demands of Due Diligence (DD) were at the forefront of discussion, with Vistage members keen to hear how they should prepare their business, when the time comes to get around the deal table themselves.

The feedback from delegates was excellent. This BCMS session, we hope, underlined the most important theme of the day. This is that human collaboration – building enduring, positive relationships – is the key to successful business. And in today’s world, this in-person connection is more important than ever.

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