Obituary: Mike Wright
Mike Wright, the academic and professor of entrepreneurship at Imperial College Business School, passed away in late November 2019 following a short illness
Mike Wright, the academic and professor of entrepreneurship at Imperial College Business School, passed away in late November 2019 following a short illness. He wrote more than 40 books and published more than 300 papers in academic and professional journals on many subjects, including management buy-outs, venture capital and entrepreneurs, and co-wrote Private Equity Demystified, the Corporate Finance Faculty’s book, with John Gilligan. At the time of his death, they were working on the fourth edition.
Wright co-founded the Centre for Management Buy-Out Research (CMBOR), the first academic research centre to study private equity and buy-outs, in 1986 at the Nottingham University Business School, where he was professor of financial studies. He and CMBOR moved to Imperial College Business School in 2011, where he became professor of entrepreneurship, before becoming head of department for innovation and entrepreneurship.
He was also a fellow of the British Academy and of the Strategic Management Society. He held an honorary doctorate from the University of Ghent, was a visiting professor at ETH Zurich and INSEAD, and a member of the BCVA’s Advisory Board.
Born in 1952 in Stockport, he grew up in Derbyshire, and outside work was a keen walker, birdwatcher and cyclist. To celebrate his 60th birthday, he cycled from central France to the Pyrenees.
Rod Ball, CMBOR’s deputy director, said: “Mike started CMBOR as a young academic when private equity was in its infancy and little understood. He often cited the story of how, when he had first voiced his idea of researching private equity, fellow academics had warned him there would be no interest as the market was far too small. By 2007, a record of more than €180bn had been invested in European private equity and his enthusiasm had been fully vindicated.”
“Throughout Mike’s career, he focussed on establishing robust academic evidence on the availability and the application of funding for growing businesses,” said David Petrie, head of corporate finance at ICAEW. “As his work underpinned much UK government policy designed to increase equity investment, under both Conservative and Labour administrations, it is difficult to overestimate the importance of his work to both private equity and the wider business community.
“From a policy perspective, CMBOR illustrated all aspects of private equity, including in absolute and incontrovertible terms the amount of funding added to investment in British companies by the private equity sector, as well as the number of people and jobs created in those companies.”