Jeremy Evans is the former Global CFO of Equiom. Whilst he was the CFO, Jeremy also held various other senior roles in Equiom over the ten years he worked for the company, including Global Head of Mergers and Acquisitions, Global Head of Organic Growth and a short term stint as Chief Operating Officer for the Middle East and Asia. Jeremy formally retired in May 2019 upon completion of the sale of the business to Varde Partners, a transaction for which Jeremy personally received an award of ‘Global Deal of the Year 2019’ from Finance Monthly Magazine.
Since retiring, Jeremy has set up his own investment and consulting business, JMotivatE, a business
through which he is using his wealth of experience from the multiple acquisitions and integrations he has led, as well as his deep knowledge of how to build multiple successful businesses to help entrepreneurs with personal angel investment, third-party finance raising – both equity and debt, business coaching or senior executive mentoring.
What did it feel like after the Varde deal was finally complete?
It was the morning of 25th May 2019, almost ten months following exchange, we had finally got regulatory approval. As luck would have it, I was actually getting ready to watch the Monaco Grand Prix from the ‘More’ Super Yacht and I was pondering on the fact that I had met another life goal of mine. The previous day, I had officially ended my full-time executive career – my target of being able to ‘formally retire’ by the age of 55 set so many years ago was now achieved, and with almost five months to spare. In addition, I had confidentially been advised I had also won ‘Global Deal of the Year’, and thought that this was a great opportunity to have a major double celebration with my wife, and remember an early piece of good career advice from one of my first mentors: “All things are possible if you believe”.
What has your career taught you?
I must admit the journey I have been on over the last thirty or so years has been a real blast; you must enjoy your work if you are to make great things happen. I have travelled from Toronto in the west to Tokyo in the east, with most geographies in the world covered, which is not bad for a boy from the Welsh Valleys who barely passed his O levels. So overall, the main thing my career’s taught me is “Don’t be afraid to have dreams”.
“As we enter the new decade, I think it will be increasingly
important to motivate and encourage the strongest talent
to really drive themselves to succeed. Too often in recent
years, business people have been constrained by pandering
to the mediocre for fear of upsetting the majority. I
personally prefer to help and encourage exceptional talent,
those who truly believe in opportunity but have not been
given their chance to succeed yet.”
What are the jobs you have done over your thirty years in business?
After gaining my finance qualifications I had a couple of early-year ‘experience’ roles as an auditor in local accountancy firms – sound foundations on which to build a career. I then moved into the social housing sector, getting my first Finance Director role before I was 30. Whilst the social housing environment provided me with numerous opportunities at a young age, including large numbers of people to manage and motivate, I knew by my mid-30s that bigger and more exciting things lay ahead for me. My international outsourcing career really took off at PwC, initially in Paris, before the whole of Europe became my business area including managing and motivating multiple location teams, but by the time I left, I knew working in the entrepreneurial space was where my real passion lay. Being a divisional Managing Director at Liberata was my first direct experience of working with Private Equity, whilst a challenging environment, I knew this was the right future for me. Having finally realised my true ‘business’ destiny by my late 30s, over the last fifteen years I have successfully gone on to hold multiple global rolls across many businesses, working with many more Private Equity-backed businesses, some very successful investments, and then some less successful ones too. I have raised hundreds of millions of pounds in business finance, led business acquisitions of over thirty different organisations from Canada to Australia and most countries in between, negotiated new business contracts worth over a billion pounds, worked with many talented people, and invariably, some equally untalented ones as well. What was however always clear to me was that obstacles are placed in our way to see if what we really want is worth fighting for and I have always committed to fighting hard for what I believed in. Whilst I always tried to believe in myself, I have also been humbled to have been honoured with a number of personal awards from many organisations, including being inducted into the Hall of Fame for C-level executives, and then winning four awards in the first four months of 2019 for my outstanding contribution, culminating with, what was the ultimate recognition for me, a personal ‘Global Deal of the Year’ award for the transaction which enabled my retirement.
What would you say to people setting out on their career today?
Throughout my career I have been driven to succeed and have put my own very unique stamp on the successes I have achieved, so my small piece of advice for aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs is that anything is possible – just believe in yourself and trust your instinct!
It sounds like it has been a lot of hard work.
Yes, it has been very busy – it has consisted of a lot of long days and nights and significant travel, but I
have always tried to ensure that I appreciate everything I do – you must find total enjoyment in your work otherwise it doesn’t work. I’ve also always tried to make sure that I make time for some amazing experiences with my beautiful wife Linda and my exceptionally talented daughter Victoria. I have been fortunate enough to witness my beloved Wales Rugby team win four Grand Slams in the last fifteen years. I’ve also journeyed across France watching the Wales football team at the Euros, celebrating my wedding anniversary with my fabulous wife and 40,000 ecstatic Welsh fans as we beat Belgium to reach the 2016 semi-finals. I have been lucky enough to not only see many F1 races from Monaco to Shanghai but also to have driven a Formula One Car and if music is the spice of life, then my life has been “very hot”, having watched them all – from the intimacy of a 40-person venue to being captivated with how just one person with a guitar can engage a huge sell-out stadium!
Any initial thoughts as you finish your current chapter?
Before I took on my current adventure, I wanted to take a short break to thank not only my wife for her unreserved support but also the many, many people who have supported me over the years, including good colleagues and close business associates who have been there for me and helped me achieve such great success. It has been a real pleasure and I hope that some of the true friendships which have been created will continue and endure. I have been extremely touched and humbled by the outpouring of support following my decision to step back. You never really know what colleagues feel until you realise they don’t have a ‘motive’ and their thoughts and feelings are personal, genuine and heartfelt.
I visited Belfast recently and saw this quote on the peace wall: “Speak the truth even when your voice shakes”. Surprisingly I found out it is the name of a rock band, but I was taken by this message of honesty and integrity – even if it is hard, as long as you remain honest with yourself and maintain your integrity, you will be proud of whatever you achieve. These are the foundations I have built my career on, and the rules I have always followed, especially when times have been tough.
Are you not too young to retire?
Both Linda and I have had a number of extremely busy years in the recent past, so as we agreed when in South of France recently, enjoying the wine delights of the region, ‘this is our time’ to enjoy the fruits of that work, and make the rest of our lives the best of our lives. However, I do still plan to undertake some interesting business activities and I am already working with a few entrepreneurs and high-class professionals, supporting them as either an angel investor, a business coach or a senior executive mentor.
So you are going to do some work then?
Of course, I don’t think Linda would want me home every day, especially as she is heavily involved in the homeless charity she works for, the Hope Hub in Camberley. However, as I enter the third stage of my career, I think in my new role, it will be important for me to use my experiences to help motivate and encourage the strongest talent, helping them to drive themselves to succeed. I have found that business leaders allow themselves to be constrained by the lowest common denominator, allowing their colleagues to pander to the average, which in my view is political correctness gone mad. I, therefore, want to help the exceptional talent, those who truly believe in opportunity but have not been given their chance yet. This is what JMotivatE is here to do. We have already made some initial investments and have a couple of mentoring clients on board, with new opportunities across many sectors presenting themselves.
However, in addition to my business activities, I have been enjoying dedicating some of my free time and energy to supporting the charities which have been important to me over the years, especially Together for Short Lives and Make a Wish UK.
Any parting thoughts?
Without trying to sound arrogant, I must admit that I am not ashamed to say how extremely proud I am of what I have achieved over the past 30 years and as the great musician Frank Sinatra put it, I am even prouder to say that ‘I did it my way’. I will also ensure I continue to follow this philosophy into the future at JMotivatE.