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Jeff Green, a man of multi talents, pulls together a diverse group of people in his professional and private life. He’s a shining example of the kind of mover and shaker needed to bring diversity and a personal touch to today’s business world.
I meet Jeff Green, CEO of GP Corporate Finance International in Gows, a classic styled bar and restaurant near Liverpool Street. He is a tall, distinguished looking Indian man. He moves with ease when I enter and he stands up and shakes my hand with vigour.
“Gows is one of my regular hangouts, I hope you like it here. I love it because it’s like a members only club without having to be a member and with the feel of a “local”. I come here all the time.” Jeff starts off our conversation with relaxed banter.
I ask him what he’s doing in the world of work that means he has time for regular lunches at Gows.
“My work is about connecting people, it has been for 25 years. Gows is a nice place for that eclectic mix of customers. I invest in businesses myself and help larger technology and some insurance companies buy businesses and indeed raise finance for the next stage of their growth plans. I also work with tech startups and connect them to investors and asset managers. The size of deals I work on ranges from £1 million up to £100 million. My firm is an intermediary and we have a small team of finance and IT professionals,” he explains.
“I started my career in banking and insurance, however after going through a divorce I decided to have a complete life change and pursue my passion of the entertainment industry, so I set up a theatrical agency in London. I was successful at that and knew my guilty secret was to work on the other side of the camera by becoming a presenter. So where best to start than Hollywood. I did something that you only see in movies: I packed my bags and flew to Los Angeles where I landed my dream of working as a radio presenter and hanging out at Hollywood parties.”
Jeff has a large grin and dimples, he’s upbeat and charming and immediately puts people at ease. I can see how he would be a good radio presenter and ask him why he came back to UK and returned to finance. He thinks for a while and says, “It was a great time but I couldn’t see a career in radio long term”. Jeff continues, “I missed the UK and the City, so two years after leaving I came back to London to work in financial software with IBM as a line manager. Following technology and finance success in London, my career went international and I worked in Singapore, Tokyo and New York selling various software solutions to large financial companies. This built up my contact base substantially and I always stay in touch with good, talented people, something people are generally poor at. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of coffee!”
Jeff continues, while he sips his latte. I ask him if he ended up living abroad how he managed to return to London again and why?
“In 2008, I was head hunted to focus on a private equity software at a french company called eFront in the UK, so I returned. I won 25 out of 26 deals in London in my tenure. It was a moment in time when everything was right. We had a great team, great software and my great contacts. Those were wonderful times,” he looks thoughtful. “As an uber networker I am able to leverage all my contacts that I made back then and add more from all walks of life,” he says. “It’s enabled me to form an investor pool and to bring investment and M&A opportunities to that pool,” he adds.
Jeff tells me that he’s so active meeting new people, that every Thursday he organiSes drinks for professionals working in the City. The people he invites mainly work in finance. He includes people of various ages and cultures, the more inclusive the better. Jeff calls the evenings “Painting the town Green” and his aim, apart from doing his own networking is to spur people to expand their knowledge and contacts. He usually selects 10 to 12 people per gathering. They often meet in Gordon’s, the oldest wine bar in London. It’s especially nice in the summer when the large outdoor area is open onto embankment park. “I love Gordon’s, there’s nothing better than good conversation with a glass of wine outside. And there’s usually a big area for our groups if we time it right. People ask me why I spend so much time organising networking events. I really enjoy helping people connect with new and different people with differing views. Thats why I present at conferences to raise awareness.”
Using his many years of acumen and people skills, Jeff also finds and committed people wishing to advance themselves and finds roles as full board members or non executive directors. “The uniqueness that I can bring is working with the typically under-represented people on boards,” says Jeff. “Women and people from all ethnicities and even all ages.” Jeff mentors those people onto boards and finds them positions equivalent to apprenticeships for board level roles.
Jeff has his own website, www.gpcf.com, and he wears a total of three professional hats. The first two as buying and selling companies and helping businesses raise finance. His third occupation is being a non-executive director on two boards.
He has also set up the website balancedboards.net to help companies achieve a more balanced board to make better it’s decisions. It is also to help find candidates and place, train and mentor them. Under balancedboards.net, Jeff mentions he is looking to find 25 000 global mentoring senior managers to help ambitious young people – not just one particular sex, but mentoring based on ability and commitment for everyone. He tells me to register as a senior reporter mentor!
“My drive is helping people fulfil their potential,” Jeff says as he sits back and reflects, “Everyone needs continual mentoring, people forget that. You need to keep the wheel turning not just get is started.”
Being the man about town he is, Jeff has many places he frequents. In addition to Gows and Gordons, he likes to go to the Shard, Sketch, Arts club and the Radio Bar and his new favorite place is the Ham Yard Hotel. Jeff’s favorite drink is Champagne but a pint of lager with good people is just a good night for Jeff. As he relaxes, you begin to can see his humour and charm and why people invest that very precious commodity of time with him. He mentions his next huge event in a rooftop bar in London for top professionals in finance just before the summer break. You should come he says and raises a toast to “friendship.”
Jeff says he has retained his passion for the entertainment world and he’s currently raising money for films. When he’s not networking in several different worlds, Jeff takes his home schooled daughters for bike rides on the weekend, and for trips to judo and swimming. “I try to go out with my daughters all weekend ans get them into socialising as well. I believe in learning from people. However, we all know you need to search out the healthier side when living the London lifestyle,” he adds. Then he leans over to fill my wine glass.
Photo: personal collection, Sergey Valmon