Meet Swantje Conrad

Who is Swantje Conrad? How did you find yourself in the position you’re in today?

I joined JPMorgan Frankfurt as a graduate trainee and stayed for almost 30 years in various roles in Germany and London. I retired when I was offered my first non-executive directorship and then had the opportunity to join the board of CT Private Equity Trust PLC shortly after. Today, I have a portfolio of non-executive roles at financial services and traditional industrial companies in the UK and on the Continent.

Why Private Equity? What is it about the trust that you find the most exciting?

For me, a private equity company which is invested in businesses with a clear objective to create value through initiatives such as operational improvements, supporting growth investments or creating scale by consolidating companies within a specific product sector is the most exciting. Secondly, the interaction between a private equity owner and its investee companies is typically much more frequent and more operationally focused than when investing in public markets and should result in better investment returns. At CT Private Equity Trust PLC specifically, I like the long track record of Hamish Mair, who has managed the trust since 1999 and its focus on investment in more specialised mid-market funds rather than funds of big global buy-out firms.

What else are you passionate about in the finance world?

Ensuring that financial information is presented in a way which is easy to understand and fully transparent. If I, after a long career in finance, have trouble understanding documents or finding relevant information, how will the broader public manage?

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?

A former CEO of a large German corporate recounted an event with me in his memoirs. As a trusted but still relatively young equity analyst, I travelled the US with the CEO to promote the company’s shares to investors. Coming out of a meeting, which had no energy, I told him very directly and in no unclear words that he had to “sell” his company better and his delivery had to change. He wasn’t used to being criticised in such a way and was quite shocked. To his credit, he took it on board from the very next meeting and without any misgivings against me. The episode strengthened our relationship and I take it as a compliment that he found it relevant enough to record it in his memoirs.

What did you learn over the course of last year?

How much I value the freedom to travel where I want and when I want and that I am, in fact, quite a decent cook.