Homage to “The Father of Private Equity in Europe”- Sir Ronald Cohen

Today, I have decided to dedicate my Leadership Zenergy blog page to a true British Entrepreneur – Sir Ronald Cohen, after reading his book “The Second bounce of the ball: Turning Risk into Opportunity”. Not only I was fascinated and energised by his ideas and advice from his 30 years of experience as a successful entrepreneur, but positively inspired by his journey from humble beginnings to an iconic British entrepreneur.

He was born in Cairo, Egypt to a family of Shephardi Jews. Moved to England in 1957 with his family during the suez crisis at the age of 11. Though initially speaking only a few words of English, Sir Ronald went to Orange Hill grammar schools in North London where despite describing as a “school of very doubtful reputation” he excelled.

He won a scholarship to Oxford university, where he went on to become the president of Oxford union, and earned a degree in politics & economics at the Exeter College. He subsequently attended Harvard business school.

After leaving Harvard Business School, he worked at McKinsey & Co as a management consultant for few years before he co-founded Apax partners in 1972, one of Britain’s first venture capital firms. Apax expanded rapidly in 1990’s becoming Britain’s largest venture capital firm which provided start up capital for over 500 companies such as Virgin Radio, Waterstones, AOL etc…..

After nearly a quarter of century at Apax Partners, Sir Ronald surprised everyone by retiring the firm he founded and eventually moved out of his office at Apax. He left Apax as it needed a “clear handover of leadership to a new generation” he says.

According to his long serving colleagues at Apax, “he treated Apax like a family. ‘It was an extension of him”. He was supportive and demands loyalty in return.

My Favourite quote from Sir Ronald Cohen;

There are huge opportunities to be successful now and if you come from humble beginnings you tend to want to do the same for others.

Despite his many lifelong achievements, Sir Ronald consider his greatest strength is his wife and his greatest achievement is making a success of his third marriage.

Here are some quotes from the book-Second Bounce of the Ball by Sir Ronald Cohen;

  • “Start young, think big and STICK WITH IT”
  • “Everybody can see the first bounce of the ball, but uncertainty lie in predicting the second bounce”
  • “Investors back Jockeys not horses, Jockeys are their managers and horses are the opportunities in the market place”
  • “Successful Entrepreneurs seek out uncertainty in order to capitalise upon it”
  • “Risk mask the value of uncertainty”
  • “Vision attracts and excites the talent, the talent achieves the vision”
  • “build a great team of people who are able to adopt to changes that you face”
  • “Do not avoid set backs”
  • “Entrepreneurship does not know social or geographic boundaries”
  • “Private sector should get more involved with the society and connect social sector with the capital markets”
  • “AT THE END OF THE DAY, YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR AND BE PROUD”.

Advice to young Leaders ( during his speech at HBS graduation in 2010);

” Positions of leadership, in the broadest sense of the word, should be your goal. As you go off into the world, i hope you’ll do what you really want to do rather than what you think you should do to keep in step with your classmates.

NO MATTER WHAT, YOU SHOULD KEEP THE SOCIAL DIMENSION OF YOUR WORK IN MIND THAT IS, THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO SOMETHING GOOD FOR OTHERS”.

Thank you Sir Ronald Cohen for your vision, insight and lessons of courage in taking risks and sharing those with us!

May your good work in social enterprise and philanthropy continue for many years to come in the future!

Yours Sincerely,

Roshan Uggoda

Leadership Zenergy

collaborationguy@me.com

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