We discussed Taylor Perry’s experience at HBM this summer, touching on his project work, HBM’s culture and life as a St. Louis resident
CC: Can you share with us the project you worked on this summer and how it impacted HBM and/or the portfolio company?
TP: This summer, I was assigned a technical project for Mississippi Lime Company (“MLC”) that was both interesting and challenging. Essentially, I conducted a yield study at one of MLC’s six facilities. I took a deep dive into the mine operations to gain an understanding of the material flows that go into the plant and what comes out, and then took a step back to see how the plant could mitigate product loss along the way. It was a great experience as the technical nature of the project provided me with a holistic view of a plant operations. Ironically, aspects of the project had me think back to high school chemistry lessons, something I would not have envisioned when I was sitting in class!
The project is still in its infancy, so I am uncertain of the direct impact the yield study will have on MLC and HBM overall. However, I can tell that it will be a useful tool in helping MLC to better quantify material loss. With this tool, the leadership team and plant managers will now be able to put a cost on a product’s waste stream and have the analysis to determine where they should spend money and what they need to fix. There’s huge cost saving and waste reduction potential for MLC.
CC: Please walk us through your primary role and responsibilities over the past ten weeks and about the interaction you had with the senior leaders at Mississippi Lime.
TP: There has not been a typical day this summer, which I liked. It was apparent to me from the beginning, that I needed to set my own schedule to meet deliverables at both MLC and HBM. I prefer this type of environment as I have control over how I conduct the work.
This said, it was necessary to be at the MLC plant two – three days each week in order to perform the analysis required for the yield study. Typically, I would check in with the plant team early in the morning and discuss items required to prepare the analysis or ask them questions for information that I may be missing. In the afternoon, I would meet with senior leaders within MLC, including the Controller, Head of Engineering, system engineers and mechanical engineers.
I also spent time in HBM’s office working on the yield study analysis or analyzing new deal opportunities. The work was a perfect combination as I was able to take a deep technical dive into a portfolio company project and also conduct analysis of new investment opportunities.
The level of interaction I had with senior leaders at MLC exceeded my expectations. I checked in weekly with MLC’s Controller and Head of Engineering to discuss the project and any follow-ups we had from the prior week. It was a great experience as it provided me with an understanding of how plants operate. Although I knew I would have interaction with senior leaders across HBM, I wasn’t expecting the level of interaction I had and the impact it would have on my understanding of running a business.
CC: Did you have much interaction with other Associates at HBM this summer and how would you describe the corporate culture at HBM?
TP: There are three words that I would use to describe HBM’s culture: collaborative, entrepreneurial and fun.
Because of the company size, people get to know each other well, and some even form strong friendships. We had a great summer attending a couple of baseball games and golfing with Don Roberts, HBM’s CFO. It was evident early on that the team is very entrepreneurial by nature. They are self-starters and they strive to be their own “boss”, so-to-speak. In addition, collaboration is a major part of HBM’s culture. Every person within the organization is curious about what is occurring in the company and is willing to offer ideas or assistance when required. It is a fantastic culture!
I had the opportunity to work with HBM’s Associate team when evaluating new investment opportunities. I was pleasantly surprised how collaborative HBM’s culture is. The team freely bounces ideas off each other when discussing new investments and are also happy to assist on project specific work.
One of HBM’s Associates was working on a project for a different MLC plant while I was there. It was brilliant to have a sounding board so that I could see if I was looking at the project the best way.
CC: Were there any aspects of your summer project you found challenging?
TP: Yes, without question. With essentially seven or eight weeks to work on a project, I initially found it challenging to gain full buy-in upfront from some of the newer team members less familiar with HBM. However, I found that this challenge was easy to overcome once the team I was working with got to know me and saw that I did not only have something useful to contribute, but I also listened.
For the project I worked on at MLC, I had the opportunity to interact with both senior leaders and plant employees. I found this experience invaluable as in previous positions, I typically only interacted with senior leaders of the organization or third party professional services employees. Here, I had to manage real operators of the business in order to derive the information required to work through the yield study. There was certainly a learning curve in the beginning, but once the team saw value in what I was providing, they were eager to contribute.
CC: Did your Summer Associate role at HBM meet your expectations?
TP: Yes, absolutely. I was looking for an opportunity to work with a smaller team where I could dive right in and see a broader perspective of running a business. My experience at HBM this summer surpassed my expectations. I enjoyed setting my day-to-day schedule and also the fact that I could control how I approached my project to meet deadlines. Yet, I knew I had a strong support system to bounce ideas off of. It was the perfect experience for what I was hoping for.
CC: As a St. Louis new resident, what were your impressions of the city?
TP: St. Louis is a nice city that has lot to offer. I grew up in a rural town and then lived in New York City for quite a while, so I found St. Louis to be a nice balance. It has all the amenities a big city like New York has to offer, but it is also easy to escape and experience the outdoors. I lived a few minutes’ walk from Forest Park, which was amazing. I was able to easily go for a run in the mornings.