Students participating in the Hamilton New York City Program took a train ride to Stamford, Conn., on Oct. 19 to meet Robert Morris ’76, P’16,’17 founder and managing partner of Olympus Partners, a private equity firm. After a brief celebration of the football team’s win over Bowdoin, the Hamilton trustee spoke to the students about his career path, shared some hilarious anecdotes and finished off with a Q&A session.
Morris began his career at General Electric, got his MBA at Dartmouth and ended up becoming a vice president at GE. He then left to start his own private equity business in 1988. Olympus Partners now processes assets totaling $5.5 billion and has companies in healthcare, logistics, consumers, and industrials in its portfolio. Morris explained that his company focused on buying distressed companies and attempting to turn around management. Doing so increased the evaluation of the company and they are then sold for a markup.
One deal he described was the acquisition of two plastic drum competitors in Minnesota and having them work together to streamline production and logistics. Product lines were expanded and they started making plastic septic tanks. These could be installed at a faction of the cost of their cement counterparts. After making these innovations, Olympus Partners sold the combined company for a large gain.
Morris stressed above all else for students to enjoy their career path and absorb as much knowledge they can along the way. Human interaction is one of the most important yet hard to quantify aspects of business and understanding it more greatly helps. He also preached the benefit of pursuing unique interests and experiences during one’s career.