An interview with Eric Suh, Associate Director

From Intern to Associate to Associate Director in three years
  • Eric Suh
  • Sep 2021
  • M&A: Buy-Side
  • M&A: Sell-Side
  • Debt Advisory
  • Special Situations

How did you get your start at Livingstone?

I discovered Livingstone while networking for investment banking roles during business school.

I don’t come from a traditional business school background; my degree is in Biology and I was an Accountant after college. Accounting was an amazing stepping stone into business, but it was very mundane, as every single day was identical. I knew I wanted something different and more challenging, which led me to business school, as I heard that it was the best way to change careers. I learned about investment banking in the first month of the program. The rigor, the variability of the day-to-day job, and the steep learning curve all appealed to me.

After discovering Livingstone, I spoke and met with team members and learned about Livingstone’s history, vision, and culture. I had a strong gut feeling the firm was at an exciting inflection point.

In 2017, I joined the firm as Livingstone’s first Summer Associate (intern) and eventually joined full time in 2018 upon graduating from business school.

As an intern, I found everyone impressive in their own right. I liked that the partnership was young, motivated, and intelligent. I wanted to be a part of something dynamic, with high growth on the horizon, and I basically just drank the Kool-Aid.

Joining the firm was really a bet on myself, a bet that I could build a successful career here, and three years later, I feel that I have.

How has Livingstone impacted your career? What challenges have you met?

One of my goals post-MBA was to embark on a career path that was challenging and stimulating while providing the opportunity for professional growth. Livingstone hasn’t disappointed.

14 years since its inception, Livingstone has continued to grow and evolve, but its model hasn’t wavered: meritocracy reinforced by a resilient entrepreneurial, start-up mentality. That model has fueled the firm’s growth to date, and I’m confident it will drive continued growth.

From day one, I’ve been meaningfully involved in every aspect of the transaction process from start to finish, working directly with senior-level professionals and executives. As I’ve proven I could handle the rigor, I’ve assumed ever-increasing responsibility through each new deal.

My challenges are mainly deal-focused – every client is different, every deal team is different – there is always some new development that arises. These are the things that make the job interesting, though.

What expectations has Livingstone lived up to? What is the most enjoyable part about working at Livingstone?

During the interview process, I was told the culture is a meritocracy, and I wanted to see what that was about. I came in with no preconceived notions, knowing I was willing to prove myself and earn the forward momentum to develop my career. I put my head down and worked to provide as much value to the firm as possible.

However, I certainly feel like I’ve received more than I’ve put in. I’ve built life-long relationships here and experienced first-hand what meritocracy looks like. I love that we’re always looking for new ways to evolve, which isn’t something you always see at smaller firms, or larger ones for that matter. We’re small enough to be nimble and agile, and we continue to evolve every day, whether it’s through culture, technology, or compensation.

What does a typical day entail?

When I’m not traveling, each day often starts with an untimely awakening by one of my children, followed by breakfast as a family. While my start to the day is consistent, what happens after that is always different. I get to deal with a diverse array of companies, personalities, and challenges that combine to form a truly unpredictable but exciting career.

What is your most memorable moment working at Livingstone?

The most memorable moments are often built with colleagues outside of the workplace. Livingstone encourages tight bonds with happy hours, lunch and learns, and other opportunities to connect outside our day-to-day.

Specifically, Livingstone’s annual off-sites across the globe, where team members from all our global offices unite for a time of celebration. During those moments, you build stronger relationships with your international colleagues, celebrate wins and promotions, and seriously feel the impact we make across the world.

What is the most memorable deal(s) you’ve worked on?

We often develop strong relationships with our clients, so it’s difficult to choose a single transaction.  However, it is always a pleasure to advise owner-operator clients who’ve spent their life’s work (and oftentimes across generations) building a company. It’s a great feeling when we’re able to obtain a great outcome for these clients, allow them to take some meaningful chips off the table, and secure the futures of their family members. We’re not going to save any lives through this profession, but it is nice to change lives and provide that once-in-a-lifetime liquidity event for our clients.

Share any advice you have to someone considering joining Livingstone

Anybody can fit in here, so it’s not personalities that we look for. We value folks who possess a gritty, entrepreneurial mindset, and if that describes you, then you can can find success at Livingstone.

If you’re a high performer, there is a path here for you.

Even if you’re an analyst, keep in mind that you don’t have to leap to private equity or corporate development, as there will always be a path for high performers. We want associates to be future partners at the firm, and we have tangible proof that it’s possible because many current partners got their starts as analysts or associates here.

We expect people to come in and feel a sense of ownership, know that their voices can be heard, and understand that they can and are encouraged to set positive change. For those that buy into Livingstone, it can be one of the best places to work.


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