Managing Partner, COO
Neil is COO and chair of the SoftBank Investment Advisers UK board of directors and also sits on the board of the Vision Fund general partner entities.
Prior to joining SoftBank, Neil spent 20 years at UBS in London and New York where he held a number of leadership roles across Investment Banking and Asset Management. Neil holds a BSc (Hons) in Accountancy, Finance, and Economics from the School of Information Systems, University of East Anglia, and is a qualified accountant.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?
As one of the early team members at the Vision Fund, there have been too many memorable moments to choose! In my previous role at UBS, I had a front-row seat to the financial crisis of 2008. I was working with the CEO on strategy, and how we were going to navigate the crisis. I helped create the first ‘bad bank’ for legacy assets and got heavily involved in redefining the business mix post-crisis. It was an extremely challenging time, but I learned so much.
I’m so fascinated by the kind of work our founders are doing, and I think that if we play our role right, we can be a critical amplifying force.
What’s your goal in your work here?
As COO, I partner closely with our CEO, the leadership group and all teams across the firm trying to make sure that everything runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Even though my work is largely behind the scenes, my goal is really the same: to help the Fund be an effective partner to the founders we work with and deliver for our LPs. I’m so fascinated by the kind of work our founders are doing, and I think that if we play our role right, we can be a critical amplifying force.
As you build your team, what do you look for when it comes to talent?
My work has really been about building relationships and developing organizations, so I think EQ is equally, if not more important, than IQ. I’m not a technology, investment or finance expert, that’s not my job. But I can identify the priorities, build the necessary support and bring people with me. I think that a smart person who has great judgment, the right attitude and a sound moral compass can go far. So I’m more interested in those qualities than a specific set of skills that can be taught.
What is a typical day like for you?
Well, my days are all different, but I try to start them the same way. I travel a lot, so when I’m home I spend some time with my three daughters, before they go to school. My agenda is largely driven by Rajeev’s and the key priorities of the firm, so very varied, there is not often a typical day. As COO, you have a front to back mandate. So sometimes that means being more focused on governance or operations, sometimes you need to lean into the strategy and communications side of things, and sometimes it's the firm’s infrastructure and controls which need prioritizing. It's the diversity of the role that really appeals to me.
Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out?
Sure, I’d say to embrace new things, continually. If you get involved in lots of different things, you’ll stay interested and inspired in work and life. I think that our founders all show that. These people are seeking to redefine their fields, and it’s because they’re not afraid of doing things that haven’t been done before.