Alumni Spotlight: Phil Canfield – Managing Director at GTCR

Phil Canfield graduated with degrees in Business Honors and Finance in 1989. He is currently a Managing Director and co-head of the Information Services & Technology Group at GTCR, a private equity firm based in Chicago. Since 1980, GTCR has invested more than $10 billion in over 200 companies, and Phil has been a part of many of those deals.



Take me through your career to this point.

When I graduated, I joined Kidder, Peabody and Company. I was there from 1990-1992. I joined GTCR in 1992 and am now into my 22nd year. I started out as an analyst and soon went on to earn an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School. I then started our technology investing practice around 1996 and have continued to run that with my partner, Craig Bondy, who is a BHP alum as well. In 2007, I became GTCR’s managing partner.

What were the most important things you learned at Kidder and how did that role set you on the path to private equity?

I would start the story all the way back to BHP when I graduated from Texas and started doing the financial analysis work at Kidder. Building models, looking at comps, margin profiles, return on capital and all the financial metrics – I came into the role with a huge head start. Coming out of the McCombs undergrad program, I understood business finance, accounting and how to build financial models. When I joined Kidder, other young post-undergrad analysts didn’t have that same background. It gave me a tremendous capacity for work, and I participated in a lot of interesting deals. That led to tangible experience, and I was able to leverage that into getting my job at GTCR.

What deals are you working on now, or what are you focused on in your group?

Within our IS&T group, we focus mainly on software, telecommunication infrastructure, media and information services. We develop an investment thesis about an area, aim to recruit an exceptional leadership team and use extensive research to validate our thesis. We use our capital to create businesses under the leadership of those teams. Typically, our thesis focuses on the operational and strategic transformation of businesses in a particular industry. We do a lot of accounting and M&A work. Within the IS&T group, we have a couple dozen companies on our list that we are researching at any point in time. When we are trying to push to completion, we only have a couple at a time.

For students who might not know much about private equity, how would you best describe your role and what you do?

At its base, private equity provides a better form of governance through the use of financial leverage.  No one wants to be the average guy in a money management business. Our process and leader-driven strategy is our differentiated approach. We find great CEOs and use our capital to put them in charge of undermanaged businesses and grow those businesses. We expand their domain, providing more resources, products and services. That’s how we seek to generate alpha.

Why do you enjoy about working in private equity and what do you think is most challenging about the field?

For me, being in private equity is both fun and intellectually challenging. It is both analytical and people-oriented. You are meeting with bright and engaging CEOs. I love hearing their stories, learning about how they built their business, and how they think about leadership. I spend most of my time talking to really successful leaders about how to build and grow businesses. We become their partners and are involved in all the major decisions across a lot of different companies. Most of the time, our CEOs know more about their businesses than we do, but it is nice for them to have us as a sounding board. We can have a candid conversation about their people.  Many don’t understand the people part is important in private equity, and I think that is key to being successful in this space.

What advice do you have for current students in the program who might be interested in pursuing a career in private equity?

Learn accounting and finance. I can’t stress accounting enough. People often think finance is more interesting, but accounting is the language of business. When I look at a company’s financial statements, they talk to me and tell me what is going on. A cash-flow sheet is worth a thousand words. It is fundamental to understand that. I think about accounting every day. Focus on that.

There aren’t very many jobs in private equity right out of undergrad. We mostly hire from consulting and investment banking. If you go into consulting, be ready to convince us that you can do modeling and financial analysis. Private equity firms are small and don’t have the capacity to train people, so make sure you learn how to do models and can demonstrate your knowledge from the get-go.

Education is a passion of yours. How are you making an impact in that area?

I think about philanthropy from an ROI perspective. For me, if you can invest in someone’s education, which helps him/her work hard and contribute to the economy, you are going to get more bang for your buck than any other investment. I was a beneficiary of a great public school system. I didn’t have to worry about paying much for my education, especially for the value of the education. Not everyone lives where access to high quality education is readily available. My wife and I have done a lot of scholarship work at the Latin School in Chicago and the University of Chicago Booth School. We hope to do more of that.

Any parting thoughts?

BHP prepared me incredibly well. The cohort structure was really cool. I got to know my classmates very well and we still stay in touch. People talk about UT being such a big place, but BHP was a great way to make it feel smaller and make friends. The camaraderie and shared experience of BHP is a great thing.

Internship Spotlight: Daniel Novotny – BHP Senior

Daniel Novotny, BHP senior, spent his summer at Ford Motor Company as a Marketing, Sales and Service Intern where he worked on the construction of a computer update to replace current paper forms and analyzed the Hispanic Market in California. During his internship, Daniel learned a lot about the automotive industry as well as entering the workforce in general.

What steps did you take to secure your internship?

I used OCR where I found an internship opportunity posted by Ford Motor Company. Since I was abroad, I was unable to apply through OCR and emailed my resume directly to the recruiter asking what I would need to do in the current situation. Within a week, he set up a Skype interview that included behavioral and industry questions lasting approximately 45 minutes. I was then offered the internship within a month of the interview.

What were the responsibilities for this role?

I was the Marketing, Sales and Service intern for the West Market Area housed in Irvine, CA and was tasked two main projects. The first project was the construction of a computer-based update that will eventually replace the current paper forms being used. With this information being located on an Excel spreadsheet we were able to analyze key aspects of a dealership facility in comparison to a forecasted guide to figure out if any correlations with customer satisfaction can be obtained.

The second and most interesting project was the analysis of the Hispanic market within California. With this task, I had free rein to analyze sales data collected in the last ten years within the automotive industry in order to figure out trends in the market and understand what opportunities can be found to help increase Ford’s market share within the population.

Describe the culture within the organization.

There was an amazing sense of teamwork. Everyone that was in my office is the expert in a certain area of the industry and I was always able to find someone willing to help. In turn, I was able to understand each piece of the automotive industry including how sales, service, Ford Credit, and marketing combine to create a successful organization. My coworkers respected each other’s expertise and create a fun and enjoyable atmosphere, while producing top-notch results. The “work-hard, play-hard” attitude was apparent and I was glad to go to work knowing I would have good laughs throughout the day.

What was the most surprising or unexpected during your experience?

Going into the automotive industry and Ford specifically, I did not know the complexities that come with selling a car. The studies that go on within this industry surprise me and I was excited by the amount of data collected to study the market for decision-making. From financing, to the color of a car, it was amazing to see how many little things becomes part of the package. When someone purchases a vehicle, a warranty is given, with a specific financing package, and service plan. Each of these aspects has intense studies so the right combination is produced to provide the best overall car package. The policies and industry norms at each of these steps creates even more complexities that I never understood until I began my internship.

What advice would you offer your peers in the Honors Program about getting the most out of an internship?

Ask questions! Although you will be assigned a supervisor and working in a certain department, it is important to understand how your piece is a part of the overall puzzle. I believe the most important things I learned this summer did not come from the task I was assigned, but from the 30-minute one-on-one sessions I had with individuals in my office. I was able to pick their brain and they, in turn, asked me questions that reinforced what I wanted to gain from the internship. By establishing relationships early on, I was able to create a welcoming environment and gained a lot of wisdom from those who have been in the business their whole career.

How did you find your classes in the Business Honors Program to be applicable during your internship?

The Business Honors classes I have taken were definitely applicable during my internship. I am glad that I paid attention during my statistics classes and Dr. Konana’s Intro to Information Technology class because the amount of Excel I used during this internship was amazing. I feel like 50 percent of my time was spent in Excel creating reports with Pivot Tables and VLookups for my bosses. I’m glad I enjoyed working with spreadsheets and data as much as I do. The Business Honors Program has done an amazing job overall in preparing me to overcome challenges independently and think creatively when given tasks. I felt well prepared when I began my internship and believe I impressed my colleagues during my experience.

How Ford Motor Company ensure you got the most out of your internship experience?

The Ford Motor Company did a good job of asking me what I wanted to gain from my experience working with them. They understood that I was interviewing them just as much as they were interviewing me over the course of the 10-weeks and allowed me to share my short-term and long-term goals. They then found someone in the office that might be able to share their experiences and give me tips on how to help achieve these goals. For example, I am interested in working abroad and was given the opportunity to speak with the West Market Area General Manager who has worked in Brazil and Thailand over the course of his time at Ford.

What are the most valuable lessons you gained from this internship?

This internship taught me to have fun with what I do, whom I interact with and the environment I create for myself. I have realized the importance of asking questions and understand you can accomplish more when you get involved in a team that has clearly defined tasks. The collaboration I saw throughout my organization opened my eyes to the potential a group of people hold when tackling a task.



Honors Business Association Holds Annual Company Dinner

On Wednesday October 16, the Honors Business Association hosted its annual Company Dinner at the AT&T Conference Center. The recruiting event was designed for students to meet representatives from companies who have invested so much in their education through sponsorship of either HBA or the BHP. This dinner had appearances from Dell, PepsiCo, Sense Corp, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, JC Penney, Altria, and BP, allowing students a wide variety of exposure to several career interests, regardless of their major.

The event began with a networking session, allowing students the opportunity to mingle and get to know the company representatives. There were multiple representatives in attendance from each company and about 90 students participated in the event.

Following the networking session was a three-course meal, where attendees were able to chat over a delicious food in smaller groups of 10 at each table. Neal Makkar, HBA Corporate Relations VP, made a short speech before dinner began. Students attending the event ranged from freshmen to seniors, with some looking for internships, some looking for full-time offers, and some just trying to figure out what major they should pursue. Representatives answered questions about what their company culture is like, and how they decided on their current career path.

This event proved to be both a great time and wonderful opportunity as the attendees continued to network after the meal, exchanging business cards and moving around to other company tables they were interested in learning more about. The HBA Annual Company Dinner is one of the most popular events of the year, and this year did not disappoint!

Student Profile: Elise Loney – HBA President

BHP junior, Elise Loney, found her niche in the Honors Business Association (HBA) during her first year at UT. She has taken on numerous leadership roles within the organization, all leading up to her current title as President.

Why did you choose to come to UT?

Growing up in Lawrence, Kansas, I had always imagined I’d leave home for college. I applied to UT because of McCombs and its reputation as one of the best undergraduate business programs in the nation, and I was accepted into the BHP. I actually never thought I’d end up in Texas, but when my mom and I came down for Discover BHP, it only took five minutes of walking around campus before I turned to her and said, “This is where I belong.” I knew I had to be a Longhorn. I joke that it broke my dad’s heart I wasn’t going to be a KU Jayhawk, but in all actuality, my entire family has been incredibly supportive of my leaving the Sunflower State for the Lone Star State.

What is HBA?

The Honors Business Association is a student organization to which all BHP students belong. It provides opportunities for students to get together in a more social atmosphere and builds a real community base for the BHP. In addition to social events, students are given the chance to interact with professors in a setting that isn’t the classroom, and meet with a variety of company sponsors. McCombs students are told to join one professional group, one social group and one academic group during their time at UT; HBA is really all three in one.

How did you become involved in HBA?

I fell for HBA hard and fast. I heard a lot about it at Leadership Kickoff my freshman year, and all it took was one General Meeting for me to become hooked. I applied and was accepted onto the Communications Committee early in the semester, and completely threw myself into the responsibilities. It wasn’t long before I was known as the girl who stuck a camera in your face at every HBA event, and I couldn’t have been happier with the experiences I was having as an active member of the organization.

How have you continued to stay active in HBA?

My sophomore year, I became Vice President of the Communications Committee. I wanted to make Communications a more prominent part of HBA and to provide ways for members to learn the less obvious facts about each other. The results were fun activities, such as polls in the newsletter asking questions like “What is your most irrational fear?” and a game we call “HBAby,” where we collected baby photos from members and challenged others to guess the BHPerson.

I noticed there wasn’t much BHP apparel available to students. The only thing most students had was the BHP t-shirt that everyone gets after entering the program. I wanted to offer students another way to display their pride in BHP, so I designed a BHP sweatshirt to be sold to anyone in the program. They were a huge success, and all proceeds went right back into HBA.

Now, as a junior, I’m President of HBA. I eat, breathe, and live HBA all of the time, and I love it. As President, I attend a lot of meetings and take on responsibilities required to maintain HBA’s status of a McCombs affiliated organization. I also work with HBA’s Exec VPs, helping where they need it and doing what I can to delegate and make sure things run smoothly. HBA has given me so much during my time here at UT, and all I want is to give back in the best way I can.

What types of events does HBA put on?

For Academics, we have DWAPs (Dinner With a Professor) and PHITs (Professors Have Interests, Too), allowing students and faculty to get to know each other more personally. Financial and Corporate Relations work tirelessly to organize our annual Company Field Trip to an exciting location every year, giving students the opportunity to network with companies and alumni in the area. Philanthropy provides HBA members with ways to give back to the community through things such as Junior Achievement and Urban Roots, and Alumni works to host events that feature BHP alumni who can offer guidance and share real-life experiences with our members. Communications works endlessly to support the sense of community amongst HBAers, and Social is always finding ways for us to simply have fun, whether it be through playing broomball or hosting a formal at the end of each semester.

With no dues involved, everything is free to our member. Students are able to be involved to whatever extent they choose. HBA handles all the logistics, and the only things they have to do is sign up for the event, show up, and have fun.

What have you gained by being part of HBA?

There’s never a dull moment when you’re completely invested in something like HBA. Everything is always exciting and every week there are a variety of opportunities to get involved and have a great time. I definitely can’t imagine what my time would have been like at UT if I weren’t part of HBA.

During the Company Field Trip to Atlanta last year, we visited Coca-Cola and I had the chance to submit my application directly to their University Talent Program. Thanks to that, I got an interview, which lead to an internship, which resulted in a return offer that I accepted for this next summer.

HBA has given me so much. Through this organization, I’ve met some of my closest friends, I get a free meal every other Tuesday night, and I even found a job. I truly don’t know what more I could ask for.

What advice would you offer BHP students?

As HBA President, I can’t help but urge everyone to be as involved as they possibly can with the organization. On a more general note, though, I can only say this: if you try your hardest, it’s all going to work out. Trust me. You may be stressing about a million things, but if you care and your passion is there, just be patient and keep moving forward. In time you’re going to realize that it’s all turned out just fine.

Kim Holstein, Co-Founder of Crave Bars, Shares Stories with BHP Sophomores

Written by Sayli Khadilkar, a sophomore in the BHP program.

Kim Holstein, co-founder and Chief Chocolate Officer (yes, that is her official title!) of Crave Bars, visited the BHP sophomore lyceum course last Wednesday. Holstein greeted the class with Crave Bar samples, and needless to say, the sophomores were won over instantly. Tasting the decadent frozen treat was a great surprise, but after hearing Holstein’s stories and lessons, the students were even more captivated by the guest speaker.

Holstein, a Houston native, was one of many who fell in love with Austin after her time at The University of Texas. As a McCombs marketing major, she was always very interested in the creative side of business. After graduating from The University of Texas in 1989, Holstein completed her Master’s in Advertising from Northwestern University. She worked as an account executive for Ogilvy & Mather, a job that was very business-oriented. Wishing for a higher degree of creativity, she eventually chose to start her own business. Holstein co-founded her first venture, Kim & Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels, with her now-husband. The duo sold the company when it matured because they enjoyed the early, start-up phase of creating a business. Kim and Scott created Crave Bars almost a year and a half ago.

Starting a new business undoubtedly led to several unforeseen roadblocks. When asked about these discouraging moments, the fervent entrepreneur replied, “when you are passionate, it’s not about quitting; it’s about finding another way.” Holstein proved to the class that her relentless drive paid off. She encouraged the students to take risks and to act as if quitting if not an option.

The lyceum course places an emphasis on ethics, something that has always been important to Holstein. In her previous pretzel company, Holstein had a program called “Pretzels with a Purpose,” an initiative to give back to the community. Social conscience is certainly very important to Holstein, and she has carried over the idea for the foundation of Crave Bars. In addition, Holstein believes a company’s stance on social responsibility plays a huge role in determining the company culture.

Kim Holstein’s advice for budding business leaders is to seek out a mentor. She assured students that most people are very open to mentoring and passing on what they have learned.  She says to “look for somebody who is currently doing what you hope to do in the future and to approach them.” Holstein encouraged the BHP sophomores to go after their passions. While she took a huge risk in creating her own path, Holstein also believes it was the greatest decision she ever made.