Alumni Spotlight: Kuba Soltysiak

Kuba Soltysiak

Describe your role at Imperial Capital.

My role is two-fold: sourcing new companies to invest in, and looking after companies in our portfolio.  I currently look after a healthcare services provider and a security alarm company, and the work is very much a combination of being an owner and a consultant.  I stay in touch constantly with management teams to track ongoing performance, and help them with targeted strategic, operational, and human resources opportunities (and issues).

What did you learn at SATOV that you’ve applied at Imperial Capital?

A lot.  I’d say the most important would be discipline, specifically discipline with respect to analytically-driven decision-making and project management.  SATOV drove hard when it came to discipline on logical, rational thinking backed by hard numbers, and on being disciplined about the approach at getting management teams to follow our advice.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing private equity firms?

Although the private equity industry has certainly had a boom over the better part of the last few decades, it is following an industry lifecycle like that which every other industry faces.  The reality is that the private equity market is maturing and becoming increasingly competitive, and in an industry at that stage of its existence, excellent execution is critical for firms to remain successful.  In particular, execution with respect to driving improvements in the performance of portfolio companies is becoming more critical than it has ever been to creating strong returns.

You were the superstar analyst in SATOV’s early days and stayed on through a period of significant growth for the firm, how did you see it change overtime?

I think the most significant change over time was the investment in creating the infrastructure for a sustainable, long-term business.  Like every business, it really started with Mark’s (the founder) vision for how consulting should be done and his drive to have it done that way, but being a consultant Mark realized the need early on create the structures and processes that let the company live a life of its own.  The substantial investments in firm-building made over time really bore fruit, from the major investments in creating an outstanding program to attract and grow talent, investment in standardizing case management and project execution, internal reporting, and even little but important details like graphics templates and style guides.

You did a lot of work to support recruiting at SATOV, what advice would you have for potential candidates?

I thought SATOV was the best place I could have worked at in my first role after school.  It’s hard to match the breadth of experience across industries and business problems, and the range of amazing people I’ve met along the way in all sorts of businesses and in all roles.  Just be prepared to work hard before you sign.  Call me if you have any doubts.

What is your personal competitive advantage?

I’d say it’s being highly quantitative, high energy, having a lot of curiosity, and having a lot of patience.

Leafs or Canadiens?

Is this a trick question?  I’ve always been a Leafs fan, but a prolonged period of underperformance despite heavy investment has affected my confidence and respect for the team.

What’s the best part of your job? What’s the most challenging part?

It’s very interesting and varied work that encompasses all aspects of running a business.  I’d say the most challenging part is juggling everything going on and making sure to put first things first.  There is always more you can do, but you have to accept that you can’t do it all, so you need to choose what to deprioritize.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

“We need to have a workplan, and show progress being made against that workplan.”  Easy enough?

What’s something non work related that you do that has contributed to your success?

Cycling and jogging.  No matter how busy I am and in what far-off suburban industrial park I might be staying, I always find it critical to take the time to exercise.  It’s important to take care of your body and let your mind rest and regenerate.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always had a passion for everything engineering-related, and spent my days ripping toys apart and building all sorts of mechanical and electronic things, so I think everyone thought I would be an engineer.  I had no idea consulting or private equity existed.