While many have an idea of what career prospects they wish to pursue, others come to the realization through a process of self-exploration. With extensive corporate finance experience, Paul Michael Sturt has taken a very direct and calculated approach to professional opportunities before finding a passion for mergers and acquisitions.
Soon after graduating from the University of Alberta with a double major in finance and accounting, Sturt spent the next four years gaining valuable work experience, before obtaining employment with the prestigious PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Despite working for various high profile companies, Sturt made the decision to leave the accounting industry, joining Sureway Construction Group as the Corporate Controller. Two years later, Paul was offered a position with Thompson Construction as Chief Financial Officer where he took more of a strategic approach. This coupled with his financial knowledge allowed Paul to grow the company both organically and through mergers and acquisitions.
During his tenure at Thompson Construction Sturt worked with several M&A firms. One of those firms recognized his unprecedented knowledge and ability to maximize the value of a transaction. Realizing that this was the path he wanted to pursue, the owner of STS Capital Partners offered him a partnership with the firm.
He is now responsible for international mergers and acquisitions with a focus on civil construction and oil and gas. He serves the North American market on sell side transactions and worldwide on buy side transactions.
Equipped with a comprehensive understanding of the business landscape, Paul takes pride in his current role and provides some insight into his typical workday.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I worked with a company when I was with Thompson on a couple of deals, and was extremely drawn to the work that I was doing with mergers and acquisitions. From merging corporate cultures to working directly with clientele. It was the win that I loved, and that led to unprecedented value creation. It was then that I decided this was the path I wanted to take in the future. I spoke with the owner of STS Capital Partners in Barbados and he offered me a partnership with the firm.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I would say that every day is different, but the tasks and processes are often quite similar. For some context, the range of time to process each deal takes nine to fifteen months. A typical day is spent engaging with clients and understanding their unique challenges and opportunities. I ascertain all relevant information about each company to bolster revenue, profits, and increase the inherent value of the company in preparation of a sale. Some clients recognize the need to better position themselves before sale and I may join them in a consulting capacity to optimize the cost structure of their business, create clear strategic direction and increase the overall efficiency of the internal corporate structure. I have been part of the strategic path of taking companies to nine figure EBITDAs, so my value extends far beyond handling of a transaction.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I consider myself both the initiator and facilitator of ideas. Many of my clients know what they what as an endgame but lack the financial understanding of how to get there. I lay the detailed roadmap. As an organizer at heart, I love this process. I communicate with clients and professional teams to accomplish all goals set-forth.
What’s one trend that excites you?
There is speculation about the US federal government providing a $2 trillion infrastructure package. Trump is saying this the time given extremely low interest rates. I am encouraged by the idea that the world is eager to get back to work and the US government recognizes that a major overhaul of infrastructure is required. They are currently ranked 13th of the first world countries in quality of infrastructure. This injection of capital would be a step in the right direction, and a major boost in the industries in which I operate.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Above all else: organization. I am a very detail-oriented person, and structure and prioritization is required in my line of work.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that every single thing that you do in the future has to add value. Ask yourself every day, does this add value? If you cannot answer yes, then there is a good chance that you need to pivot your strategy.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I find most individual to be very negative. They generally gravitate toward the worst-case scenario when things get bad. But, there is always opportunity out there to either increase profit or make yourself better. Do not get caught up in the moment, always think about the bigger picture. There are opportunities to increase value, intelligence, knowledge, and profitability from any situation you just need to have the strategic foresight to do so.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I would tell everyone to believe in their abilities. Too often, we get wrapped up in self-doubt and this only serves to set us further back. If you have proven yourself once, you will prove yourself again.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One strategy that has helped me to grow the business is to have well-documented agreements. It builds a relationship of trust, as I genuinely care about the well-being of my clients. It was much to my detriment in the past by to not our agreements in writing. While some may say verbal agreements are binding, it becomes a “your word” versus “my word” scenario with no evidence of proof. Good solid business relationships are built on the foundation of well written agreements. An ability to craft comprehensive agreements while understanding all the consequences of those agreements becomes a benefit to my clients for their future transactions.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest failure in my career was that I was too trusting of people and their word in the past. That way of thinking came back to haunt me over and over. I overcame it by creating a policy to have every agreement put in writing, signed, and documented.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The best indication of the future is the past. Too often I see companies getting caught up in the moment and stifling opportunity. We can’t forget that we live in a financially cyclical world where booms become busts and busts become booms and there are always ways to advance in either scenarios.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I am very lucky to have a cleaning staff at home. It is the best hundred dollars spent because it gives me more time with my children and quite frankly preserves my sanity.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use my phone and Zoom. I use my phone for everything. I have used Zoom for a couple of years. Without Zoom, it would be very difficult to do business.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Pursuit of Happyness – Chris Gardiner. This book proves that anything is possible with hard work and determination. There are no obstacles too large or too difficult to overcome with hard work and determination.
What is your favorite quote?
Weak people get revenge, strong people forgive, and intelligent people ignore. I think it is important to just keep moving forward, especially in business.
● Believe in your abilities. If you’ve proven yourself once, you will prove yourself again.
● People generally gravitate toward the worst-case scenario when things get bad. We cant forget that we live in a financially cyclical world where booms become busts and busts become booms and there are always ways to advance in either scenario.
● Every single thing that you do for your client in the future has to add value.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.