An interview with Matt Slavik, Associate

From Analyst to Associate with a stop in between at a PE shop
  • Matthew Slavik
  • Nov 2021
  • M&A: Buy-Side
  • M&A: Sell-Side
  • Debt Advisory
  • Special Situations

How did you get your start at Livingstone?

As I prepared to graduate from Mizzou, I looked at various boutique investment banks in Chicago because I knew this was the city I wanted to be in.

Investment banking is unique because it’s like a boot camp in business and provides exposure and access to C-suite executives early on in your career that you typically don’t get in other career paths. I knew I wanted access to the thought process of decision-makers and investment banking is a great avenue to achieve that.

Beginning my career with a boutique investment bank like Livingstone was important to me because I wanted a well-rounded experience with more hands-on client-facing exposure at an earlier level than I knew I would get a bulge bracket bank.

Luckily, I ended up having a connection with Steve Miles, Livingstone’s Co-Founder, since he was a Mizzou alumni. We met and discussed the investment banking industry, his experience building Livingstone, and the unique culture of the firm. What he shared resonated with me; and once I had the opportunity to meet the team, I was even more excited about the firm and its entrepreneurial culture.

As a result, I decided Livingstone would be a great place to launch my career and I began with the firm as an analyst. I left after almost three years to explore private equity and ended up returning to Livingstone as an Associate at the beginning of 2021.

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

Working at Livingstone enables its employees to develop however fast they are capable of. There is less bureaucracy to cut through here, and capability and competence reign triumphant.

Ultimately, however much rope you get is based on your ability to do the work, the longer the rope, the more capable you’ve proven yourself to be. Expectations are high, but the challenge pushes you to come out of your comfort zone, often driving you to develop at a faster pace.

Working at Livingstone has made me better at my time as junior bankers are staffed on multiple projects at any given time, so you quickly learn to prioritize and effectively manage deadlines.

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

The culture. We take our work seriously, but not ourselves. I think we have a flat hierarchy with a playful culture that allows you to get to know people on a personal level, regardless of what title they hold. There is a level of camaraderie and a “we’re in this together” mentality that is shared among junior bankers that have enabled me to develop strong and lasting relationships.

I decided to rejoin Livingstone for the culture and the genuinely good people. The firm does not treat workers like a number. They care about your development and care about you as a person. You get close, build deep relationships, and maintain those relationships, even when you or they leave Livingstone.

We’re more than just a group of people doing deals together; we have genuine connections that make the work more fulfilling, even when the work is demanding.

We’re more than just a group of people doing deals together; we have genuine connections that make the work more fulfilling.

What does a typical day entail?

A typical day could be – get to work, catch up on emails, make progress on long-term projects like drafting materials while managing shorter-term deadlines through the day. I often take team update calls, project-related calls, diligence calls, maybe call a company CFO to talk through project-related questions.

Post-Covid, we still hit the road for pitches, client meetings, management presentation prep meetings, and management presentations.

What is your most memorable moment working at Livingstone?

The annual event gets all Livingstonians together at a rotating location annually, typically near one of Livingstone’s international offices, to spend three days together. It’s a team-building exercise that doesn’t feel like a team-building exercise, it’s just a great way to develop relationships with our international colleagues.

The 2018 annual retreat in Spain was my favorite. It was great to meet colleagues in person because it makes collaboration that much more cohesive afterward. It’s easier to send an email or pick up the phone when you’ve met the person already.

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

Quadrant 4, a special situations transaction closed in 2018, was memorable. We had a small team, leading to me taking on a lot of responsibility on the deal as an analyst, working directly with two partners. We came up with a creative – and positive – outcome for the client. It’s a good example of a time I was challenged to step out of my comfort zone and working on the transaction helped me grow as a banker.

Share any advice you have to someone considering joining Livingstone

You won’t be a cog in the mill, you’re a person here. You are treated as an individual, you are valued, and you have the chance to choose your own path and develop at your pace without bureaucracy – something that’s a lot more difficult to do at a bulge bracket bank. You’ll get more well-rounded exposure earlier in your career, being intimately involved at every step of the deal process.

You are treated as an individual, you are valued, and you have the chance to choose your own path here.

 


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