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I paid my way through college by starting Suburban Appliance (“SA”), an appliance repair service in Chicago, Illinois. I started SA in high school and patrolled the neighborhood streets on garbage day to collect discarded appliances, 1 would then repair the appliances and sell them for a substantial profit. Struggling to pay for college, I replicated my success from high school on a larger scale by developing a relationship with my local Sears. I convinced the appliance sales team that it was useless to let old appliances sit in a landfill when i could repair them and sell them to lower-income individuals After many calls, Sears eventually agreed to distribute my contact information to customers who purchased new appliances.
would then pick up their old, soon to be discarded appliances for free, refurbish them, and sell them for a tidy profit. Later, I expanded the business by hiring two repair technicians, My experience with SA taught me the importance of perseverance, and creative business planning, and laid the seeds for my thinking about socially responsible investing.
One of my most meaningful accomplishments was to buy my parents a new house that they could only dream of living in while they raised my three brothers and me in difficult financial circumstances. After fleeing Pakistan due to religious persecution and gaining asylum in the United States, my father worked as an insurance agent and my mother was an “Avon Lady,” selling cosmetics door-to-door. Together, they made humble salaries and supplemented other household income by taking odd jobs such as delivering phonebooks and providing cooking services.
Whatever money they made went directly into our rundown house to provide a comfortable environment for our family. Saving my money by the age of 23 in order to buy a house for my family has allowed me to honor the sacrifices and hard work that my parents undertook to provide for my brothers and me.
Despite having to live with four people in an extremely modest one-bedroom apartment in Chicago and minimizing my expenses during my years as an investment banker, the ability to provide a better life for my family has validated the efforts that l have put into my career. Seeing my mother’s tears as she walked through her new master bedroom was one of my most rewarding experiences and reemphasized the important role that my family plays in my life. As a first-year private equity associate at JMH Capital (“JMH”), I convinced a divided and contentious Board of Directors to sell Endres Processing, a JMI-l portfolio company that recycles food waste into animal feed, I was charged with evaluating the returns of potentially large capital investment. After working with Management to build out a detailed forecasting model, it quickly became apparent that the investment would have diminishing value.
Additionally, my analysis showed that we could maximize our fund’s overall return if we sold Endres Processing outright, instead of waiting two years as the Board had planned. Drawing on my investment banking background, I prepared a succinct valuation and positioning presentation for the Board of Directors. At the next meeting, I presented the data and stated my conclusion. Several Board members were initially concerned by my analysis because it conflicted with their predispositions. After taking time to carefully explain the analysis, review my assumptions, and prove my valuation, the Board agreed to consider the sale and hired an investment bank to market the business. Navigating the complex negotiations with the Board and proving my analysis gave me confidence in my abilities and has been instrumental in defining my future career ambitions.
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