Researching the Private Equity Market in Collaboration with Industry Professionals
I started to collaborate with the research team at Pantheon at the beginning of my third year. We are working on a joint research project concerning the private equity market using Pantheon’s proprietary data. I am grateful to my PhD supervisor Professor Daniel Ferreira, who provided me with this valuable opportunity through his connections. In this project, I work with industry professionals to learn about institutional details, explore their proprietary data, and come up with insightful research questions. Thanks to Pantheon’s research team, the research project is organized in a structured way. At the beginning of the project, Pantheon’s research team held a series of introductory sessions for me to learn about their business. I also had the opportunity to attend their investment team meeting to get a better understanding of private markets. For the duration of the project, I have regular meetings with Pantheon’s research team every week to discuss the progress of the project. I also have regular discussions with my PhD supervisor Professor Daniel Ferreira to shape the research ideas. Through this exploratory process, I have been learning a lot both from industry researchers and my supervisor.
This collaboration has been integral to my PhD project not only because it has enabled me to produce an additional paper, but also, more importantly, because it has helped me learn how to do academic research and think as an economist through the hands-on experience and close guidance from my supervisor.
Gaining Valuable Insights by Solving Real-World Problems
This business-collaboration gives me exposure to and broader knowledge in global private markets, which I cannot get by only reading the literature. It is beneficial to my research as I am able to conduct meaningful research with the access to the proprietary data of the leading global institutional investor. In addition, Pantheon’s research team introduces me to the professionals in different teams such as the investment team, the portfolio strategy team, and the company data team to help me understand the institutional details and proprietary data. The frequent and regular discussions with industry professionals not only ensure our research is on the right track in the sense that it is solving real-world problems, but also provide me with valuable insights to modify our research ideas. Our research work also has potential benefits to the business partner. We aim to produce high-quality joint research papers that are publishable in a top academic journal, which can hopefully enhance the business partner’s research brand. Moreover, our research work can provide insights from an academic perspective for the business partner. The research results can be helpful to their investment process.
The challenging part of this project is to come up with implementable research ideas. Since it is an exploratory project, we do not have a clear idea about what we can do at the beginning. A key challenge to implementing any idea is sourcing the data. We typically need to collaborate across different teams to check what specific data is available and build a relevant dataset. Fortunately, the professionals in the different teams are all super nice and helpful to help me overcome the challenges.
Learning a New Way of Doing Research
After my PhD, I plan to pursue a career in academia. The collaboration has influenced my methodologies of doing research as an academic researcher. It makes me realize that only reading the literature may not be the best way for me to generate new research ideas. I have been learning a lot from discussions with industry professionals about research ideas. This collaboration experience with Pantheon also led me to initiate another business-collaboration with a company in the blockchain industry for another research project in FinTech. For my post-PhD career, I plan to build more connections with industry and seek opportunities to collaborate with businesses to produce more joint research.
Be Proactive and Forge Connections: Key Advice for Other PhD Students Interested in Research-Business-Collaboration
You should be proactive in your research. It is important to be entrepreneurial when looking for collaboration opportunities. You need to make sure that your research agenda is mutually beneficial. Your research outputs should benefit the business partner, or they would have little incentive to collaborate. Communication is very important. When building connections, you need to convince the business partner that you can use their resources to produce something meaningful. During the collaboration, good communication can make the research process more efficient. Don’t be afraid to talk to people when you have questions. Communication will help you to find the right person to solve the problems that you encounter in your collaboration.