From Intern to Senior Vice President
July 28, 2022
There are times in one’s life when everything is meticulously planned and it works out exactly as hoped for. Alternatively, sometimes, in spite of your best laid plans, the opportunities you encounter along the way take you on a completely different path to success. The latter illustrates the academic and professional experiences encountered by Eric Persi, Senior Vice President of M&A at Lynx Equity Limited ("Lynx" or “the Company”). This summer, Lynx' newest intern, Richard D’Agostini, had the opportunity to speak with Eric about how he entered the private equity space, the skills and discipline necessary to succeed as an intern, and how his original career path enabled him to evolve into the professional he is today.
Eric’s private equity journey began soon after he started his first year as a student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He discussed that at a young age, he actually envisioned himself in healthcare. This was Eric’s main goal until he began his academic career. “I wanted to be a vet in elementary school,” began Eric, “then throughout high school, as I further explored and excelled in the sciences, that changed to wanting to be a radiologist. I thought if radiology didn't pan out, I’d still end up in healthcare. I have always been a people person, so I thought about potentially managing hospitals or a healthcare facility, specifically in the United States.” Eric was accepted into a very specialized health studies education program at Dalhousie. The summer leading up to university, at the age of 18, he opened an investment account. “I opened up a self-directed portfolio and started investing in the stock market,” shared Eric. “I really developed an interest in researching and analyzing companies. I would spend hours in the library on the computer with countless tabs open, pouring through information pertaining to companies I was interested in.” With his newfound interest in finance, Eric switched into a Bachelor of Commerce program on his first day at Dalhousie, and so began his journey in finance.
Early in Eric’s academic career, he developed an interest in private equity. “In the world of finance,” began Eric, “I found private equity to be the most interesting: Going out, finding, assessing and buying companies from various industries, and working with them after, was fascinating to me. You can control your own destiny in a way, a bit differently than if you are just investing in the public markets.” His program required three mandatory co-op terms. When the time came to find a third and final placement, Eric began “knocking on doors” to try to find an internship in private equity and was introduced to Brad Nathan, Lynx’ President and Founder. Through this introduction, Eric completed his final co-op term as a Lynx M&A intern during the summer of 2015, and “the rest is history from there”.
Success as an Intern
As a Lynx intern, Eric was able to hone in on the skills he learned at university – these skills helped him in everyday life and in the world of business. Eric compared learning at an internship to equipping a toolbox. “You’re always adding tools to a toolbox. You need to have several different types of screwdrivers, various types wrenches, hammers, a measuring tape – the list goes on and on. As new issues arise, you’ll find that you need new tools. During a career, especially at the outset of an internship, you’ll start without much in your toolbox, but the goal should be to add as many tools as possible while you’re given an opportunity in a certain position”. Interning as a student provides a great opportunity to build upon existing skills as well as learn new ones along the way.
When interning at any type of business, not only do you want to develop yourself as a professional, but you also aim to develop strong relationships with your colleagues in the hopes of building your network. Eric discussed the necessary skills and characteristics to gain when aiming to impress your colleagues and executives. Eric believes that “as long as you are hardworking, eager, and willing to learn, you can come from any background and enter a role at a company and eventually work your way up to become an effective, contributing member of the team.” Eric explained that drive and a willingness to learn are some of the most important qualities a person can have – in any capacity but especially when taking part in an internship. “Be a sponge,” he said, “soak up as much as you can.” By being malleable and retaining the knowledge with which you’re surrounded during your internship, you allow yourself to evolve as a professional.
Although being hardworking and eager to learn are among the most important qualities for success in any capacity, it is worth noting that the skills you gain in school can help in your internship and future career – regardless of your discipline and eventual industry. “There were definitely things that I learned at Dalhousie that were really helpful,” shared Eric. “I learned the basic fundamentals of finance and accounting, benefited from the university experience itself, and was educated on how to communicate in business, write reports and present data. We also learned how to professionally write in a business setting and how to assemble presentations. Much of the Excel work we were taught was also very transferable.”
Hard Work Pays Off
Thanks to the organization and time management skills that Eric learned in school, he was able to be an effective and productive employee. Yet still, it wasn’t always a walk in the park. Eric made sure he was goal-oriented and on task; he always aimed to not only accomplish what was asked of him, but to exceed expectations. When he’d complete his to-do list, he’d offer support to his colleagues in order to learn more about the business, and in the hopes that his determination and tenacity were noticed. “Eric demonstrated his passion for private equity right from the start,” shared Brad Nathan. “He was eager to do as much as possible during his internship – always asking to take on more projects when he completed others.” Eric’s exemplary performance, coupled with the fact that Lynx was growing its M&A team, made his full-time employment offer an easy decision for the team.
Over the last seven years, Lynx’ M&A department has grown and Eric’s role has evolved significantly. From the time that Eric became a Lynx intern, to his promotion to Senior Vice President of M&A, he has continually accepted new responsibilities including working with more companies and managing the M&A team. Brad also shared that “Eric has since become a trusted partner of mine and Lynx’, as well as directing M&A activity for North America. He has also been helpful with capital raising – an aspect of M&A that you either have or you don’t. I couldn’t be more pleased with Eric and am excited to continue to grow Lynx with him.”
Additionally, Eric is responsible for hiring employees and contributing to the creation of certain policies, as well as being involved with Lynx’ Operations department; he collaborates with eight companies directly: five flooring companies, two retailers, and one distributor of siding products and accessories.
Eric is a prime example of an intern who recognized his value and consciously demonstrated it to his employer. He worked hard to establish himself and make good impressions, was always receptive to advice, and eager to gain new experiences and learning opportunities. From the start, Eric indicated his capability and determination to become a valuable member of Lynx – regardless of the task or role. Throughout his time at the Company, he garnered a great deal of knowledge about the business world and himself. What began as an internship opportunity to complete his co-op requirements turned into a highly successful and edifying career, as a fundamental member of the Lynx Team.