We sat down with Michael Hull to discuss the project he worked on this summer as a Summer Associate and his overall experience as an HBM employee. Read on to discover the scope of his project and why his experience at HBM exceeded his expectations.
MH: I analyzed all the details concerning a key customer for Aerofil Technology, one of HBM’s portfolio companies, and recommended a way forward for the relationship. To make the right recommendation, I needed to roll up my sleeves and dig into the customer’s profitability, its supply chain and other factors such as the ease of doing business.
Connecting the dots wasn’t always straightforward. It required me to work closely with Aerofil’s hourly and shift workers to pull together the data necessary to perform the analysis. I also worked alongside the CFO, VP of Operations and sales team, which enabled me to put the pieces together and ask more insightful questions. I was fortunate to gain exposure to all levels of the organization, as it gave me a well-rounded perspective on how to complete the project and a better understanding of how a business operates.
Were there any aspects of your project that you found challenging?
MH: The most challenging part of the project was the level of precision required for my questions and data requests. I wanted to be respectful of the employees’ time, so it was important to figure out what exactly I needed and when to request that information. However, everyone at Aerofil was gracious with their time which allowed me to work through this concern.
What’s the most important skill you gained from your experience at HBM?
MH: Thanks to HBM, I now have a framework to analyze, restructure, and build a profit-and-loss statement. This sounds basic, but doing so involves understanding all activities of the operations. It includes correctly classifying costs, accounting for the disproportionate consumption of overhead resources and properly attributing ancillary revenue items — such as rebates — to products. The result is a clearer picture of product and customer profitability.
Please describe HBM’s culture. What did you enjoy about it?
MH: The culture is very team-oriented and unstructured. I loved the flexibility I had to either work out of HBM’s St. Louis office or the portfolio company’s headquarters. That allowed me to plan what information and data I needed down at the company — and when I gathered enough to conduct extensive analysis, I would do that at HBM’s office. Having those options helped me stay focused and be productive.
What were your impressions of St. Louis?
MH: It was great to be back in St. Louis. The city has a lot going on, from new bars and restaurants to parks and golf courses. Despite the breadth of business development and investment in the city, the cost of living is still relatively low. St. Louis is a wonderful city to live in.
Did your experience as a Summer Associate meet your expectations?
MH: It exceeded my expectations. I came away thoroughly impressed with the people – both at HBM and the portfolio companies. I also learned more about the different challenges facing middle market businesses than I had expected. Overall, it was a fulfilling and rewarding summer.