In this blog series, the Yale ICF will highlight ICF Advisory Board Members who are practitioners from various finance fields and alumni of the Yale School of Management and/or Yale University. Our board members enjoy giving back to the Yale community by participating in panels, guest lecturing, and taking part in Q&A sessions with students. Their generous financial support allows the Yale ICF to host events, sponsor academic initiatives, provide research support to faculty, and much more. The Yale ICF is grateful for their continued support!
Robert (Bob) Davis ’97 is an ICF Advisory Board Member and is a founder and Managing Partner of Nebrodi Partners. In addition to that, he has been teaching the Intro to Private Equity course at the Yale School of Management for the past three years and has helped develop the PE curriculum at Yale SOM. He has also served as a mentor for the PE/VC Club that hosts the annual Yale SOM Private Equity & Venture Capital Conference.
What is your current role and industry?
I've been in the Private Equity business since graduating from SOM. I'm a founder and Managing Partner at Nebrodi Partners where we invest in both private companies and PE partnerships. I have invested in roughly seventy-five companies across many geographies since graduating from SOM, serving on the boards of many. I love what I do.
How did you get into this field?
In the first semester of my second year at SOM I took a course on PE taught by David Cromwell, who had recently retired as the head of JP Morgan Capital. David was a phenomenal teacher who inspired many of us to pursue careers in PE and VC. David introduced me to the people who ran Aetna's PE program and they hired me. Later we formed Nebrodi as an independent PE firm.
What are the biggest challenges and opportunities that professionals in your industry face today?
In the immediate sense the Fed's unwinding of fifteen years of extremely low interest rates through rate hikes is having a pronounced impact on the PE market. Deal volumes are down by 60% to 70% and the debt markets are more expensive and significantly less generous in terms of leverage availability. Over time this will put pressure on the multiples that investors pay to buy private companies.
Where do you see the industry going in the future?
The PE business has been maturing for years. It has grown dramatically as institutional investors pursue the relatively favorable returns that the asset class has generated. I think money will continue to flow into PE as pension funds and endowments seek returns that meaningfully exceed what is available in public equities and other asset classes. I also think there will be a continued push to greater "retailization" of the business as more high net worth investors seek access to PE.
What advice do you have for someone new to the industry?
I think commercial judgement and the capacity to read into people and situations are the key foundational attributes that people entering the industry need to develop. Commercial judgement is rooted in pragmatism, recognizes opportunity, and grows through experience. The capacity to read and work effectively with people is equally important. The first thing David Cromwell told us in our first class twenty-five years ago is still true...the capacity to evaluate management teams effectively is the key driver of success in the business.
Bob is a founder and Managing Partner of Nebrodi Partners, a Connecticut based private equity firm, where he is responsible for evaluating, executing, and monitoring private equity investments in both companies and limited partnerships. He represents Nebrodi on both portfolio company boards and the advisory boards of numerous private equity funds. Prior to the formation of Nebrodi Partners, he served as a Managing Director in Aetna’s Private Equity Group where he held a similar role.
Earlier in his career Bob worked at a start-up telecommunications firm that grew to be ranked #12 on the Inc. Magazine 500. Previously, he worked in the fixed income division of Lehman Brothers and for Merrill Lynch.
Bob holds a BA from Amherst College and an MBA from The Yale School of Management where he is a member of the Board of Advisors for the International Center for Finance.
He is a Trustee of St Martin de Porres Academy in New Haven and a founder of, and Senior Advisor to, Flyte Scholastics, a tutoring program that matches Yale undergrads with tutoring opportunities at schools in New Haven.