Acta Intern Speaker Series: Sagar Gandhi
Acta Ventures hosted orientation for its 2019 Summer Atlanta interns on May 28th in Acta’s Midtown Atlanta office. The orientation began with a particularly valuable chat with Sagar Gandhi, VP at Roark Capital Group, a PE firm in Atlanta focused on buying and improving franchise businesses such as Jimmy John’s and Buffalo Wild Wings. Sagar offered a variety of insights ranging from how to get into private equity to what the day in the life of a PE employee looks like to what the most valuable personal and professional attributes are for someone working in PE.
Sagar’s path to Roark started at Emory where he studied business. He interned at Roark the summer after his junior year and joined full-time post-graduation. He’s now been at the company for 10 years, filling a variety of rolls that have allowed him to do anything from LBO modeling to analyzing legal contracts to hiring prominent CEOs to raising capital and much more. Seeing himself as a self-described “Roark lifer”, it was refreshing to hear from someone who had found work they were both passionate about and fully dedicated to.
Sagar spoke about a few success stories he’s had a Roark, most notably Arby’s. The company’s path back to success from a ruinous few years of mis-management was an enormous challenge for Roark, but one that has paid off mightily for the firm and its investors. Sagar credits Roark’s success to its focus on its well-informed investment thesis. The guiding principles of this thesis keeps Roark disciplined in looking for investments its best suited for. The market is rapidly changing though, and Roark is finding big challengers for great investments, very high asking prices, and significant pressure in the bid and auction process. Roark has remained nimble though and Sagar expects that the future will be very bright for the company.
In talking about how to break into private equity, Sagar promoted a culture of intellectual curiosity above all else. The path to private equity is very difficult and highly competitive. We live in an age of information though, and each individual is empowered to better their knowledge in any area. This is particularly important for those trying to pursue a career in PE – be the person in the interview who conveys strong work ethic, asks thoughtful questions, shows interest in the current market and knows the lingo but, more importantly, knows what drives value for the investments and the investors. These are the people best set up to succeed.
We want to thank Sagar for his time and input. The intern class is very grateful for the insights and the opportunity to learn more about how private equity works and how to succeed in the industry.