We are delighted that Pawel has been recognised as one of Private Equity News’ Rising Stars of Private Equity. Since joining us in 2018, he has been a strong performer with a focus on the healthcare sector. In 2022, he originated and led the investment into Optegra, an ophthalmology care provider operating across Europe. He is also an integral part of the MidEuropa’s deal team overseeing the investments in Diagnostyka and JS Hamilton, and has been involved in numerous add-on acquisitions made by both companies.
Here we learn a bit more about our rising star!
How did you get into the industry?
Like many people in private equity, I did the hard yards at a Big 4 firm for a couple of years before joining the industry. I secured this role through an internship with the same firm, and this experience included a stint within the corporate finance department. This was a great way to see finance in action. The experience was very valuable for understanding how companies are prepared for sale and what make them attractive to prospective buyers – a great skillset for private equity professionals to get exposure to! It also gave me a good understanding of the private equity industry and how the various firms within it are positioned and perceived. Following this, I spent nearly four years with another PE firm before joining MidEuropa in 2018.
What aspects of your career have been particularly rewarding?
On an ongoing basis, working with management teams of fast-growing portfolio companies is a very rewarding experience as it helps to get a real feel for how a company operates. By acting as a ‘bridge’ between the investor and the business itself, I have a finger on the pulse for what drives a company’s success and what challenges it has, and this enables us to be a more supportive backer. As an example, my involvement with Diagnostyka really highlights the benefits of this hands-on collaboration. It’s become Poland’s largest medical laboratory chain since MidEuropa backed it in 2011 and supported over 130 acquisitions.
Over the years I have been building up my sector knowhow and network in healthcare, which ultimately led to me being appointed as co-head of MidEuropa’s healthcare team, alongside Matthew Strassberg, our Partner with extensive and impressive experience in the sector. A healthcare highlight from this year was our investment into Optegra. We’d tracked it for years, and to see the relationship-building pay off was a great result.
What excites you about the Optegra transaction?
We had been following the firm’s growth for a few years. Our experience in building regional champions combined with expertise in healthcare businesses meant we quickly identified its potential to become a pan-European ophthalmology champion. Its organic prospects are strong within its current footprint of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and the UK, and of course there is scope to consider new geographies – something we have ample experience in helping companies pursue.
Our investment was based on a very ambitious budget for 2023, which sought to fill excess capacity in its then-underutilised footprint. I’m happy to say that Optegra’s highly competent management team is delivering far beyond what we’d set out to achieve on that front, with year-on-year EBITDA uplift of c 60% forecast. Additionally, we’ve already supported one acquisition and have four others in advanced stages.
What keeps you busy when not at work?
It depends on the weather – when there’s snow I love boarding down the slopes, and tennis is a more year-round way to keep fit and have fun! Travelling and showing the world to my children is another thing I love to do.
Other than sports and leisure, I’m also part of the Private Equity Academy, a training programme in Poland run by the Polish private equity and venture capital association, PSIK. We help build awareness of private equity as a career path and provide practical knowledge of the sector through workshops for students and recent graduates. I have also become involved in the Valores Foundation, which is Poland’s first Venture Philanthropy Fund, which aims to help various NGOs in Poland to grow, professionalise and be more efficient.
What are you looking forward to professionally in 2024?
Our credentials help us significantly in positioning MidEuropa as the go-to investor. Even in today’s challenging climate, there are exciting opportunities in the healthcare sector. We have a few opportunities that we are excited about, and we look forward to translating some of them into investments during 2024.