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January 25, 2023

Getting ahead in private equity. Laura’s story

Laura Dillon leads Waterland Private Equity‘s Dublin office, which she established in 2020. Laura has had a varied career both in private equity and business. She has worked at several private equity firms, including Apax Partners and Riverside, and set up a distribution business with her family that was sold to a corporate acquirer. 

In this podcast, with Ross Butler of Linear B Group, she talks about her career to-date, the opportunities in the Irish private equity market, and her experience of working within Waterland’s international mid-market investment operation. 

Her career has been marked by a series of transitions and success stories within the private equity sector. 

The opportunity to lead Waterland’s Irish office came unexpectedly when the firm announced its plan to open an Irish branch. Laura initially dismissed the idea but reconsidered when approached by a headhunter who recognized her potential. Waterland’s reputation for being entrepreneurial and its track record of impressive returns were key factors that drew her to the firm. Laura’s unique connection to Dutch culture through her passion for sailing with a Dutch team also gave her valuable insights into Waterland’s transparent and egalitarian culture.

Upon returning to Ireland, Laura took on the challenge of building Waterland’s Irish office from scratch. Despite facing personal and external challenges, such as a skiing injury and the onset of COVID, she successfully managed to establish and grow the office. Waterland’s focus on partnering with business owners and entrepreneurs to accelerate company growth resonated with Laura’s vision. She also discusses how Waterland employs a buy-and-build strategy to support companies in fragmented markets, expanding internationally through acquisitions.

In terms of the Irish private equity landscape, Laura emphasized that the market has evolved over the years, with an increasing number of domestic and international firms showing interest in Irish companies. 

Waterland’s unique position as an international private equity firm with an on-the-ground presence in Ireland allows it to collaborate closely with Irish businesses seeking to expand globally. Laura also highlighted Ireland’s favorable tax environment and its attractiveness to multinational companies as factors contributing to its appeal as a business hub. 

She expressed optimism about Waterland’s growing pipeline and its potential to further enhance the Irish private equity ecosystem while maintaining collaborative relationships with other local firms.