Every month, we will feature an active member of the ACG New York community in a brief interview. Reflecting industry insight and personal perspective, this feature will introduce industry leaders and offer advice on the tools you need to succeed in the ever-changing middle market.
Connect with Polly on LinkedIn
1. Quick basics– role/firm/focus/how long have you been an ACG member?
I am a Regional Director of Origination with The Riverside Company. My role is to source and evaluate investment opportunities and build relationships with business owners. I work across all of Riverside’s North American private equity strategies to support deal origination for both platform and add-on investments.
The Riverside Company has approximately $10 billion in assets under management and is global in scope, yet we remain dedicated to the entrepreneurial end of the market. We make control investments in companies with enterprise values up to $400 million and have a whole variety of non-control solutions for companies ranging from as little as $3 million of annual recurring revenue all the way to investing in companies worth well north of $1 billion in total enterprise value.
Since its founding in 1988, Riverside has made more than 650 investments and currently has a portfolio that includes more than 100 companies worldwide. We have a deep history of partnering with management to drive growth across our sectors of focus, which include healthcare, education and training, manufacturing, tech-enabled business services, software, consumer goods and franchising.
I have been a member of ACG since 2017.
2. What do you think are the biggest obstacles in the middle market today?
The biggest challenge in the middle market today is the noise. We are constantly bombarded with various messages from so many different parties. I enjoy cutting through the clutter and illustrating the depth and breadth of resources that Riverside can share with entrepreneurs and business owners. Not only do we have a broad spectrum of funds and strategies from which to invest, including both control, non-control, a B2B SaaS growth capital fund and a value-oriented team, but we also have an incredibly deep bench of operating partners and resources to offer the management teams of our portfolio companies.
We have been investing in and supporting small businesses for more than 30 years, and while the current environment is certainly trying, we have worked through other crises before and while this one is different, lessons learned in those situations are applicable. We benefit from an unusually large team. We have the bandwidth to provide full support to our portfolio companies and simultaneously continue to actively deploy capital in new investment opportunities.
3. How has ACG helped you in your career?
I have really enjoyed both quality of the community and the depth of friendships I have made. And at the end of the day, we all prefer to do business with our friends. While Riverside has an established presence in the lower middle market, I was new to the buyside when I joined the firm. ACG vaulted me into the deal community and quickly established my presence in the market. I’m particularly proud of the Women of Leadership (WOL) committee. It has been incredibly rewarding and I love the content we have generated as a team, both with the summit and the dinner series last winter. Thanks to ACG, I have close-knit ties with leaders across the M&A landscape who have become trusted friends and thought partners.
4. Can you tell us about your greatest success story/ proudest achievement?
I am proudest of my six-month-old son! Professionally, I am extremely proud of the momentum I’ve generated since joining Riverside. In my first year and a half, we closed on four deals that I originated. What was even more rewarding was that all four were with intermediaries with whom Riverside had never historically transacted. To think, with the breadth of Riverside’s global reach and over 650 transactions completed, we are still finding new sources of investment opportunities – that has been incredibly humbling and exciting as it reminds me that there is still a ton of white space for me to make an impact.
5. What changes do you foresee happening in the middle market in the next 3-5 years?
With technology, there is little to no information arbitrage anymore. We are all tracking each other: Sponsors track deals they want to see over time, bankers are tracking how we act in a process, where we bid, how the business performed over our hold, etc. In a world with radical transparency, words and actions matter and people will be held accountable for them. For this reason, I believe Riverside’s values and reputation will continue to be our best assets.
Riverside has always made a point to live by the golden rule –any management team with whom we have worked should be an available reference for our firm. The growth of companies in our portfolios has allowed us to continue to stay in business, but it’s our reputation as good partners that has helped us to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the field.