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Simon Ramery - Keelite of the Month May 2013
1997 Law and International Politics
What are you doing now?
I live just outside London in a place called Marlow with my wife and two young daughters. In terms of work, I am currently very busy at the moment setting up my own business, Innovation Capital Advisors. It will focus on helping growing companies raise between £2m and £20m of capital to achieve their goals as well as helping management teams get the right people into the business to enable them to execute their business plans. I am also a consultant at Cavendish Corporate Finance, a corporate finance boutique, a non-executive Director of a new business established to build social houses without the need for public subsidy and a member of the Lay Council at Keele University.
How did you get to where you are now?
I left University and joined a graduate scheme at a Bank where I focused on acquisition and leverage finance that supported mainly private equity firms acquire companies via management buy-outs. This was a very exciting and interesting area and I learned a great deal about how companies work and what makes them tick. I then moved into Investment Banking, focusing initially on large leveraged finance deals and then over the last four years I moved into the advisory side, helping companies raise debt or equity capital of up to £100m so they can expand, acquire or refinance.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I am still very proud of being part of the Keele University Model United Nations team that came second at the Harvard University Model United Nations against the leading Ivy League Universities and Cambridge in 1997. At the age of 21, staying in the Boston Plaza hotel at the same time as President Bill Clinton will stay with me forever. Professionally I am proud to have helped entrepreneurs raise capital to try and build the businesses of the future. The most recent one I was involved with is helping establish the Quality Social Housing Company, a new entrant in the social housing sector that will use private capital to build new houses or renovate existing ones across the UK, working with Councils and Housing Associations to unlock the under-utilised capacity across the country. I also led the £10 million capital raising to enable Professor AC Grayling establish a new first-class independent university college based in central London which offers a new model of higher education for the humanities in the UK.
And your biggest mistake?
Not sure I have one really. Things happen for a reason so what could be classified as a mistake becomes a good learning point for the future.
What are your ambitions now?
To build my own business and help other entrepreneurs build theirs. Although we are in a very difficult economic climate, one that I do not see changing for the foreseeable future, it is now a fantastic time to create and build a business as every company is willing to consider new entrants that can help them either sell more products and services and/or save money.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
The problem we have today is that there are a lot of well trained people in corporate finance and it is still downsizing so it will be harder to enter than it was five years ago. My advice today is therefore for people to become more entrepreneurial, don’t always look to big corporates as a career and consider early stage businesses instead where you will probably get far more responsibility and experience and have the chance to be part of something that you can help build.
What made you choose Keele University?
The opportunity to study a dual honours degree and study in a fantastic campus environment. The big city was always going to come later.
What kind of a student were you?
I was the first of my family to go to university so my aim was to make the most of it as I knew you were never going to have that kind of freedom again. I therefore liked to work hard and play hard, enjoying sport such as rugby and also helped set up a number of societies that were for fun (Clubbers club – probably long gone now) as well as for the CV (Student Industrial Society (probably gone as well!).
How has Keele influenced your life?
It opened my eyes to new people and experiences and gave me a thirst for life long learning. I also met some amazing people there and have memories that will stay with me forever. It has also meant I have forever had to explain to people where Keele is when I say where I went to University... I would like to try and change this.
What is your favourite memory of Keele?
There are too many to choose from however I always enjoyed the fact that no matter where you were on campus you were always bumping into people you knew and my range of friends was very diverse.
What is your impression of Keele now?
As I am now a lay member of Council I actually go back to Keele quite often and I am pleased to see that the Students’ Union has received some much needed investment, given it is a key part of the student experience. Overall it feels like Keele is at a very exciting stage of its life and can only go from strength to strength.
Anything else you would like to add?
For anyone currently studying at Keele, just to make the most of your time there and try and experience as much as possible.