It Happened One Wedding Page 8

“Great. So what’s the problem?”

“It’s the Lakeshore Club.”

Sidney paused, hearing that.

Oh.

“I knew it was a terrible idea,” Isabelle said immediately. “Forget I even asked, Sid.”

Terrible may have been a bit extreme. But admittedly, Sidney hadn’t expected her sister to say she wanted to have her wedding at the Lakeshore Club—the place where Sidney had planned to have her wedding reception, just six months ago.

Given how that experience had turned out, with Sidney calling off the wedding two weeks before the big day, the idea of Isabelle having her wedding there was indeed a little . . . weird. But was she really going to let a little weirdness get in the way of her sister’s plans? She knew how much Isabelle wanted to pull this off, and besides, the Lakeshore Club was indeed a great venue.

As she had many times in the last six months, Sidney took sentiment out of the equation and fell back on pragmatism.

And a pragmatist would say that her pregnant sister shouldn’t be stopped from having the wedding of her dreams just because Sidney’s ex-fiancé had been screwing his twenty-four-year-old personal trainer.

That decided, she answered Isabelle with a deliberately easy smile.

“Not a terrible idea at all. The Lakeshore Club it is.”

Three

MONDAY MORNING, SIDNEY sat at the head of a sleek, gunmetal-gray granite table in one of the conference rooms at the downtown offices of Monroe Ellers. Six pairs of eyes stared back at her, belonging to men and women who were among the best and the brightest graduates of their MBA programs, who now had successful careers as associates and analysts at one of the finest private equity firms in the country.

Men and women she would now lead.

For the past few weeks, she’d been settling into her new role, acclimating herself to the company, and working with the other directors in closing the fund and bringing in the last of the investors. They’d raised four billion dollars, a good-sized fund, from a combination of clients that included corporate investors, university endowments, private investors, and teacher pension funds.

Now it was time to get the ball rolling. They had the money, so the next step was for her to find companies that her clients should invest in. It was time for her to step up to the plate and show that she was as good as the partners at Monroe Ellers believed she was.

“Who at this table has found me the next Dunkin’ Donuts?” she asked the group.

Six pairs of eyes glanced worriedly at each other, undoubtedly not having expected this question. Shit, she expects us to have an answer to that? Dunkin’ Donuts was one of the most successful consumer product private equity turnarounds in recent years. The company had been on the verge of being wiped out by Krispy Kreme until it was purchased by several private equity firms—who then stepped in and changed the marketing plan to focus on coffee and beverages instead of doughnuts. It turned out to be a brilliant strategy: six years later, the private equity funds nearly doubled their investment by selling Dunkin’ Donuts for almost two billion dollars in profit.

But no director, no matter how good, should ever expect from her associates—nor guarantee to her clients—that kind of return on an investment. “I’m kidding, guys. You all looked so serious, I couldn’t resist.”

She saw them relax a bit in their chairs. This was their first team meeting, and she understood their nerves. They had no idea what to expect in terms of her management style and expectations. They’d probably heard some things about her, how she’d established herself as a consumer product specialist while vice president at her former investment bank, and likely assumed that she would be aggressive and eager—as many New York investment bankers were—to make her mark in her new role here. And they would be right about that.

But.

There was a difference, as she’d come to appreciate these last eight years, between being led by someone who was aggressive and eager, and someone who was simply a jerk. So this first team meeting was her chance to set the tone, right from the start, of what these associates and analysts could expect while working for her.

With that in mind, she folded her hands on the table. “Over the last few weeks, I’ve met with all of you individually, and we’ve had general conversations about some possibilities I want to explore with this fund. But, seeing how this is the first time we’re all sitting down together, I thought we should discuss my specific vision for this project.

“When I first began talking to the partners about the possibility of coming to work for Monroe Ellers, they asked what my strategy would be in running a successful fund. My answer was simple: I told them that I like to grow companies. I look for businesses that have potential—maybe an established company that’s struggling and needs a new direction, or perhaps a smaller business that has a marketable idea but doesn’t have the resources to expand. That’s where we come in—we find that potential and we cultivate it. And, hopefully, we make a lot of money for our clients in the process.”

Sidney saw a few smiles at that. The room was nodding along and appeared to be responding well to her speech. Then again, five out of the six people at the table had huge coffee cups in front of them, so it could’ve just been the caffeine kicking in. “So the four-billion-dollar question becomes, which companies do we believe have that kind of potential? As it so happens, I have a few ideas on that front.” She fired up the PowerPoint presentation she’d prepared on her laptop, which sat in front of her.

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