Sarah Barry

Written by: Sarah Barry

Sarah Barry

Corporate Finance Director

What does a career in M&A in corporate finance at RSM mean?

Name: Sarah Barry
Title: Director
Office: Gatwick
Joining date: June 2007
Team: M&A and Private Equity, Corporate Finance

Summary of role

A lot of people find the term corporate finance vague and overly grand, which I know can put them off applying for a job. Or they do a corporate finance module at university (like I did) which is full of valuation models and theoretical economics. Well, that isn’t what my job is at RSM!

I work in our Mergers & Acquisitions team. We specialise in helping owners who have often started a business, grown it and run it successfully for many years and often decades. At a certain point in that journey they start thinking about how to turn the value they have created into cash to retire or start a new challenge.

My role is to talk to the shareholders about what they want to do and how best to prepare the business. I then work with the shareholders and management teams to help them sell the business to a trade buyer, private equity buyer or the management team. This involves providing advice at every step of the way and working with the deal team to produce great documents that sell the business well, identify the buyers and then market the business to those buyers. I also help the client understand the offers they receive and then importantly get their chosen deal done. Along the way my job is to increase the price / terms at every opportunity and fend off price chips from the buyer.

I love that I get to work for different businesses in different sectors, learning what they do and why the business is special. I find it incredibly rewarding helping successful entrepreneurs to achieve their goals.

What’s been the highlight so far?

The first time I helped a client through a tricky negotiation. I found (and still do) the excitement of the negotiation thrilling. Helping a client get what they want and understand what the elements of the deal means for them is hugely rewarding.

On a personal level it was the first time a client had placed all their trust in my tactics and followed my advice. That’s a huge compliment but a massive responsibility at the same time. I found it hugely motivating, both on that deal but also to further my career. I knew I could deliver real value for clients and that I had the support of my colleagues as well. RSM is a meritocracy and this was a perfect example – when you are ready for the next step your team will push you to go for it and support you to achieve it.

What’s been your biggest challenge so far?

The dark years in the post 2008 recession when mergers and acquisitions slowed down. Deals were fewer and there was a recruitment freeze for a while. Getting deals done in that climate was hard but taught me some important lessons. The ability to think creatively, pull together as a team, never give up and go the extra mile when needed are things that have stayed with me throughout my career.

What’s surprised you most about working at RSM?

How quickly I was exposed to “real” client work. I first joined RSM as a university placement student in 2005 (returning as a graduate in 2007). In my first month I was working as part of deal teams supporting my colleagues. I listened in to every deal call and attended most meetings. This approach hasn’t changed – now as the director on a deal I always get the whole deal team involved at every step of the way.

What’s next for you at RSM?

In the short term I’ll be heading on maternity leave in 2019 to have my second child. When I come back in 2020 I’ll be focused on delivering high quality work for my clients, building my pipeline and continuing my journey to become a Partner at RSM.

What’s your top tip for someone looking to apply to RSM?

Be yourself – we hire individuals, so make sure your personality and enthusiasm comes through.

Be bold – put yourself out there, even if you haven’t worked in a similar business or role before. Apply, have a go at the assessment day and ask your questions when given the opportunity. We focus on your core strengths and potential not what you have done before.

Be informed – learn what RSM can offer you and why we are a good fit for each other. Choosing the right graduate job is about finding the right home to enable you to flourish. If you are reading this you are already on the research path which is a good sign.

Describe RSM in 3 words 

Opportunity, supportive, exciting

If you're interested in student or experienced hire roles at RSM, or to find out more about working for us, visit our careers site now. 

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