Staff Interview: Johnny Tollemache

June 28, 2022

Meet Johnny Tollemache, Corporate Finance Manager here at Bluebox. We sat down with him to learn more about his favourite aspects of the world of Corporate Finance, his biggest achievements since starting at Bluebox, his favourite deal he has worked on and much more!

 

Before you joined in 2019, you had mainly worked in the world of consulting. Now that you’ve been with Bluebox for almost 3 years, how have you found working in M&A as opposed to consulting?

 The two are surprisingly similar. Both require a lot of problem solving and a similar type of thinking in approaching challenging situations. They also both give the opportunity to work with different types of business and people on a regular basis; two things that have always been important to me.

Where Consulting differs slightly, is that it can often be more challenging to see the impact of the work that you have done, due to the long-term nature of strategic change. It can often take several years to see the true result of a Strategic initiative, whereas Corporate Finance is more immediate in nature. I would also say the impact of working on transactions and M&A is often a lot more tangible and binary than in consulting which can be more subtle and peripheral.

 

When we chatted last, you said one of your main motivations behind choosing a career in Corporate Finance was to help businesses through the challenge of selling and to help them realise their objectives. Is this still how you feel and what else have you found to be one of your favourite aspects of working in the world of Corporate Finance?

Absolutely – my favourite part of working in Corporate Finance has always been the people element of it. We work with stakeholders from a very eclectic range of backgrounds and experience in the market, which means that every day is different.

As I said at the time of that question, selling or buying a business can often be one of the most challenging aspects for an entrepreneur / shareholder and it has been a pleasure to support clients on so many successful transactions / exits over the past three years

 

What has been your biggest achievement since working at Bluebox, personal or professional or both?

From a personal perspective, it was amazing to sell my house last year. We bought it four years ago and totally renovated the entire site. It was a year of going through fairly lengthy planning permissions processes and construction, so it was great to manage to sell it!

From a professional perspective, it would be setting up an investment function both personally and with Bluebox, that has given me the opportunity to invest and create long-term relationships with several very exciting SaaS-based technology firms.

 

What has been your favourite deal you’ve worked on and why?

I have been lucky enough to have successfully worked on 7 completed transactions over the past 2 years. While each had their own subtle peculiarities, I think my favourite to work on was the sale of MESTEC to the US-based Private Equity firm, Banneker Partners.

It was a great process from start to finish, working with some interesting stakeholders and potential partners throughout. Managing the DD process, there was a requirement to complete the deal in less than 6 weeks which was a challenging ask, but we successfully got it done which was a great feeling.

 

Since joining you have been promoted to Corporate Finance Manager, what do you enjoy most about your new role?

I have enjoyed a lot of things about it. It’s been good to work with everyone in the business and in the different phases / elements of a deal.

We’re a small team at Bluebox, but we punch well above our weight in what we deliver – it’s been fantastic to work with such a great group of committed people.

 

Since joining 3 years ago, has much changed in terms of M&A activity and if so, what?

Working in M&A during COVID was fascinating. It caused a great deal of uncertainty, and we saw a lot of deals being postponed or side-lined. Thankfully things recovered strongly, and it really demonstrated how elastic the M&A market is – it has always shown a strong ability to adapt and rebalance to extrinsic events.

Looking ahead, while there are challenges on the horizon with the dreaded combination of inflation and low growth, I am hopeful we will again see just how resilient the market is.

 

If you had a month off, where would you go and what would you do?

I’m a big fan of kitesurfing, so I would probably go to Tarifa in the South of Spain, to do my kitesurfing instructor course.

 

Rapid fire:

  1. When asked back in 2019 who you would be if you could be anyone for the day you said, “Owen Farrell on 2nd November when he will be holding up the Rugby World Cup Trophy!” Are you embarrassed that this was completely incorrect and South Africa were the deserving victorious team? 😉 Must have made a typo – I must have meant 28th October 2023 😉!
  2. Favourite Sport? Rugby
  3. Still a massive fan of sausage rolls? Even more so
  4. If you could retire anywhere, where would it be? The West Coast of Scotland (with a trout rod)
  5. The most adventurous thing you’ve ever done? I think travelling around Iran. A lot of fun but a few scary moments (notably my car breaking down in the Dasht-e Kavir desert for two days!)
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