Jonah Surkes

Can you tell us a little bit about your role at Greenhill? What are some of your typical responsibilities?

As an analyst at Greenhill, my role is to support the work of senior bankers working on high-profile and diverse transactions, whilst also enjoying a degree of free-thought and autonomy as to marketing for clients, deal structuring and financial modelling. Typical responsibilities involve formulating pitch books, creating and mastering financial models, considering strategic options for clients with senior bankers, and being a helpful and motivated colleague!

Why did you want to pursue a career in corporate finance?

Corporate finance is akin to simultaneously solving complex jigsaw puzzles – consistently trying to find the right solution for your clients and seeking opportunities for strategic fits of companies that may be worlds apart. The art of the profession is as wide-ranging as the acquisition choices suggested to clients. Corporate finance seemed to be the perfect blend of art, science, and everything in-between – helping clients to achieve their goals and learning while you do.

Why did you decide to join Greenhill?

Before my internship, I had a difficult choice to make between a top-tier bulge bracket, a well-respected hedge fund, and Greenhill. The bankers at Greenhill made that decision far, far easier. From the moment of my initial networking event with Greenhill (which I must admit, I went to on the promise of free food and drink), I felt an exceptionally strong connection with the firm. It’s hard to pin down exactly what it was, but I think it came down to a commitment to making every guest in the room feel welcome – a trait replicated at interview stages, during my internship, and now as an analyst. Beyond just the ‘vibe’, Greenhill’s work seemed perfect for those with curious minds. As a generalist, I was able to work across six sectors during my internship on a multitude of differing tasks, something that would have been impossible in large investment banks and most boutique firms.

How did the internship equip you for the role as a full-time analyst?

I came out of my internship at Greenhill with more knowledge about corporate finance than I ever thought I would need, and this has proved invaluable when transferring to a full-time role. During my internship in particular, I was fortunate to work on two live deals, prepare a defence pitch and much much more. However, most significantly, the internship demanded a final case study presentation to a panel. Although it was as scary as it sounds, it turned out to be the greatest learning experiences I could have hoped for. I was treated like a first-year analyst from day one, and this helped me to build confidence, learn quickly and feel comfortable.

What is the biggest learning curve you’ve faced during your Greenhill career and how did you overcome it?

I came into the internship with GCSE-level Maths and a curious mind, and this did make some aspects of the work challenging, yet not insurmountable. One of the clients I was working on over the summer was a large metals and mining corporation, whose valuation demanded more complex mathematical engineering than I was used to. In fact, the entire industry was alien to me, and at first I struggled to get to grips even with what the company did, let alone how much money it made. I attempted to overcome this first by reading up on some of the Earth Science and theory behind the company’s operations, before reading a short textbook on valuation in the mining sector. With this small amount of effort I immediately understood more about the company, and called up one of Greenhill’s Managing Directors to ask more questions about industry dynamics and the relationship he had with the client. Finally I felt able to dive into the tough numbers, which by the end of the internship scared me far less than at the beginning.

What exciting work have you been involved in?

During my internship I worked very briefly on the GVC takeover of Ladbrokes, with Greenhill advising the latter. I also worked on two live deals (ongoing), a defence for a FTSE 250 client, marketing materials for a restructuring transaction, a private equity takeover of a telecoms business, and much much more. There’s always something more to do at Greenhill, and the deal flow has been outstanding and looks set to continue in that way.

What advice would you give someone joining the internship programme at Greenhill?

I would suggest that they be curious and inquisitive. Ask what people are doing and see how they can get involved – the more aspects of the job and of Greenhill that one gets to experience, the more informative they will be about whether this is the right path for them. It can be a very challenging job, but by being aware of all the fascinating options it presents, the more difficult parts become far more enjoyable when one is interested in them.