Q&A with Liam Blevins, Sampford's Most Recent Intern
Q: what made you want to join a boutique firm like Sampford?
[Liam]: Some finance students are focused on landing internships with bulge bracket firms. Whereas I wanted to work for a high-momentum firm and a growing team, such as Sampford Advisors, that offered excellent investment banking services to specialized markets. Given Sampford’s recent achievements in the Canadian tech community, I saw an opportunity to be part of something unique, while further learning more about my interests in various niche tech sectors. Most importantly, there was an opportunity to get hands-on experience and to work on actual deals.
Q: how did you find the culture at Sampford?
[Liam]: The culture at Sampford was very goal oriented – always ensuring that excellent quality standards and project timelines were met. This allowed us to flexibly combine various methodologies and work habits. Somedays, this implied that I could leave work early to attend extracurricular events. On the other hand, there were quite a few occasions where we had to cancel personal commitments to complete major projects.
Q: what was your most memorable point?
[Liam]: The most memorable point was definitely preparing niche market reports for various technology sub-sectors. These were my main autonomous projects. Further segmenting companies, aggregating market data, and conducting market research, was time-intensive and challenging.
Q: how did you deal with the steep learning curve?
[Liam]: From prior conversations with my mentors in the Investment Banking industry, I anticipated a heavy learning curve. However, I could never have imagined the level of support that I received throughout my onboarding process. Every member of the team played a leadership role, in some way, shape, or form. Although, Boris Petkovic was the most significant mentor as he directly oversaw all my projects and consistently provided relevant feedback – identifying my mistakes to quickly learn from them.
Q: what would you say has been the biggest challenge?
[Liam]: As many of the previous interns have said before me, the biggest challenge is adapting to Sampford’s level of attention to detail. Throughout my studies at the University of Ottawa, we learned good attention to detail, but in Investment Banking a mistake in a report, slide deck, or any other deliverable, will cause readers to question the integrity of the content. Additionally, since Investment Banking heavily relies on the firm’s reputation, excellent attention to detail must be one of Sampford’s core values to demonstrate the firm’s abilities. Reviewing your work was crucial in terms of evaluating internal processes.
Q: what was an important skill you developed?
[Liam]: I personally loved learning about different tech eco-systems and sector landscapes, allowing me to strategically source targets / buyers. I also enjoyed learning how to prepare market research into reports for industry executives, investors, and other professional audiences. These materials were typically prepared in PowerPoint, with the help of existing templates. Tweaking and modifying the reports, in terms of the data’s relevance and significance, required an extensive amount of judgment. Overall, this was a great experience to improve my skills in professional writing.
Q: what helped you the most from university in your internship?
[Liam]: The University of Ottawa has provided me with outstanding corporate finance and accounting courses that were used daily. Our academic coverage of financial statements, forecasting, and other reporting metrics, was consistently applied in determining a company’s financial profile. Another key course, that played a significant role throughout my internship, was business analytics. This class was immensely useful to examine business performance metrics such as customer churn rates, recurring revenue %, and countless more.
Q: what advice would you give other students looking to get into Investment Banking?
[Liam]: Students looking to land an internship in Investment Banking should do extensive amounts of research on the firm’s past deals as well as the industry as a whole. By studying the firm’s history, students will have a good idea as to if the firm is the right fit in terms of industry expertise, pace of deal flow, and corporate culture. Another key tip is to take the time to ask yourself if Investment Banking is for you. It is easy to underestimate the magnitude of 80+ hour work weeks.
Q: what are you excited most about going back to University?
[Liam]: Ultimately, I look forward to further developing my knowledge in corporate finance and to leverage the new skills that I learned. Sampford has taught me multiple best practices that will improve my efficiency for writing reports, researching subject matters, financial modeling, and other academic projects.