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New York, Toronto, Istanbul, Amsterdam, London... and Watford. Mark Redman’s career in private equity has taken him all over the globe. He talks to Marc Mullen about what’s next.

Mark Redman, global head of private equity at North American based global equity firm Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS Private Equity), says: “I have always looked for early responsibility, and the chance to make more of a difference – that’s been a theme of my career.” As a European hired last September to run the firm, did he feel he could handle this responsibility?

He worked his way up the ranks at Grant Thornton – Redman’s last three years there were split roughly 50:50 between audit and corporate finance, at that time a fledgling area for the firm. His interest in private equity was piqued as audit manager for Candover. In 1996, he joined what he refers to as “the university of private equity” – 3i. It’s not a bad description, given the alumni Redman worked with. Paul Marson-Smith, who later became managing partner of mid-market buy-out firm Gresham, had encouraged him to join 3i. When he joined, he worked for Alan Mackay, who became managing partner of Hermes, and is now executive partner of specialist European healthcare investor GHO Capital, and BVCA chairman.

At the time Mackay ran 3i’s Watford office. “That was in the days when 3i had 30-plus offices around the UK. I’m from Watford – it was coincidental I ended up there, and I’ll be honest my heart sank to begin with,” says Redman. “But it was a marvellous experience. Alan was a great guy to learn from. I led my first deal within six months – it was a tiny £350,000 start-up of a business – First Choice Water Coolers.”

Redman was quickly leading three or four deals a year, the biggest of which was a £10m buy-out – or a larger management buy-out as it was called at the time: “At one stage I had a portfolio of about 40 companies. You learn so much from that. I was part of the last generation that could benefit from the experience of transacting high volumes and getting portfolio experience at a relatively young age. You learn such a lot from those small deals and managing small portfolio companies.”

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