Five Minutes With - Jim Houghton

What’s your career highlight to date?

I’ve always remembered a key training message from a past life teaching English in Spain: you should never have a favourite. 

I’ve been fortunate in my career to work with truly brilliant and inspiring people all over the world. Comparing a tech entrepreneur in Mumbai to a Soho creative is almost impossible. 

Working in M&A, you constantly meet inspirational characters, and I would never want to work in another field. If I had to pick two highlights, I’d say collecting the award for Cross Border Deal of the Year through brokering a deal between We Are Social and Blue Focus. Securing the deal and receiving the award was career-defining, as it showed what we do can make a huge difference. 

The second highlight was being in Live8’s golden circle. The Omnicom team was tasked with securing fundraising for the concert. You could really feel the emotion in the 200,000 plus crowd when Madonna opened up her set.

What M&A advice would you give to your younger self?

I would give the same advice that I still tell myself today. Making assumptions about how the other side feels without respectfully pushing for better results is one of the biggest value destroyers in deals.

I always remind myself to build good relationships based on strong mutual understanding and respect. Doing so creates opportunities to challenge and push boundaries. 

Who was your hero or inspiration growing up?

I know I should say a business icon, but as a child I had two massively influential heroes that still inspire today. Firstly, the entire Apollo crew. I don’t know any child from the 1970s who wasn’t motivated by their perseverance to push boundaries.

My second is David Gower, the former England cricket captain and the most stylish batsman I’ve ever seen. He always appeared care-free and gregarious despite any setback. A true icon of my very favourite sport.

What brought you to Waypoint Partners?

Two really important factors drove my decision. M&A advice needs to consider how exactly the two combining businesses will benefit each other. The second is recognising that M&A deals are just one moment in a business journey. It’s about forming a lasting, successful, deal that works in practice.

Because of this, M&A needs to benefit the whole business journey and is not just about financial returns. Global cities like London are full of M&A advisors, but only a handful I’ve come across in over 25 years actually see the bigger picture of dealmaking.

When I met the Waypoint team it was clear they fully understood the importance of making meaningful, purpose-driven deals. It was a no-brainer from the start.

Favourite motivational quote?

The whole of Rudyard Kipling’s “If”, if that counts?

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