Conversations with Crimson: The South African Private Equity Investor (Wits MBA - Johannesburg) - Blog

The polished prose and distinct South African accent were signs that our conversation with investment manager Milko Skoro was to be remarkable. Boasting a more than 4.5% projected GDP growth rate for the next 5 years and a growing middle class, Africa has gained much more interest from the investment community recently. Last year prestigious investment firm Carlyle opened an office in South Africa. But in mapping the opportunity and possible career paths, the perspective of a respected MBA professional would certainly help.  Mr. Skoro was kind enough to share with Crimson Oak Academy his thoughts on the investment community’s spotlight on Africa and chime in on his Wits School of Business experience.




COA: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE AFRICAN INVESTMENT LANDSCAPE?


SKORO: The African investment scene is not monolithic. In South Africa, for instance, it seems saturated. South Africa is blessed with strong GDP growth; a growing middle class and one of highest natural resources of any nation.


Conversely, the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa has much more room for institutional investors.

 

"[Private equity] is a business
that does not tolerate
incompetence."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COA: IS CARLYLE’S ANNOUNCEMENT OF ITS JOHANNESBURG OFFICE A SEMINAL MOMENT?

 


SKORO: It certainly is important for the continent as a whole. Carlyle’s entrance to the market may represent a sea-change. Currently we are in a “Blue Ocean” phase on the continent where competition is fairly limited and growth prospects high. However, I believe that in 5 to 10 years we will be in a “Red Ocean” phase – in a highly competitive market partially ushered in by Carlyle’s office opening.

Carlyle’s decision to open physical offices in South Africa is also an admission to the limits of “desktop research” and the need for boots on the ground for the best due diligence and investment sourcing opportunities.

 

 

 

 COA: YOU HAVE ALREADY BUILT A SUCCESSFUL CAREER. WHY THEN PURSUE AN EXECUTIVE MBA?

 

SKORO: After 16 years of investment banking and private equity, I felt that an MBA would add another dimension to my skillset and expand my network. Part of my rationale for choosing Wits School of Business was that I wanted to be in Africa for my long-term career and Wits is the oldest MBA program in the nation. It has an amazing curriculum that is heavily influenced by Oxford University’s curriculum. The pedigree and alumni base were too compelling for me not to join!

 


COA: WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE OUR SCHOLARS CONSIDERING GETTING INTO THE PRIVATE EQUITY FIELD?


SKORO:
1) Be Determined
2) Base your decisions on your true passion; not just the research
3) Don’t be afraid to join a smaller, lesser known firmif it allows you to join the industry

Truly have the basics covered – industry research, networking and core skills such as financial modeling. This is a business that does not tolerate incompetence.

Get Prepared to Get In!