Follow The Leader: Omar Jackson, Partner, Berkeley Assets
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Having won the Young CEO of the Year title at Entrepreneur Middle East’s 2019 Enterprise Agility Awards, Berkeley Assets Partner Omar Jackson does seem like the right person to go to if one were to seek out advice on being an effective leader, and when asked about his particular strategy in this regard, he replies that he is a proponent of leading by example. “If you’re a good leader, your team will follow you, and will be influenced by your own hard work, ethics, mindset, and positivity,” Jackson says. “By embodying the type of person you want all your members to be, there is a natural knock-on effect that will impact your productivity in a positive way.”
For someone who’s known to add an entrepreneurial, innovative flair to everything he does, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Jackson -whose career so far has seen him venture into industries as varied as e-commerce, cryptocurrency, and, now, private equity- is applying that same logic to the way he goes about managing the people who work under him at Berkeley Assets. “In our organization, we’ve created a space that allows the partners to lead in the most efficient way possible,” he explains. “There is only one person who reports directly to us, and they in turn then manage the team. We believe this is an intelligent way to work when you have the right quality individual in place, because they’re able to embody the culture you set in place. A middleman or middlewoman between you and the rest of the team ensures the leaders can develop the future of the business, while the clients are all properly managed in an ethical, efficient, and productive way.”
But for a structure like this to work at an organization, Jackson makes it clear that it falls upon the top-level leadership to install a company strategy that’s translated well across all levels of the enterprise. “If the company strategy is communicated efficiently, it means that operations, sales, IT, accounts are all reading off the same script,” Jackson explains. “Everyone is in line with the company culture and attitude. When someone deviates from that, it’s important that that is recognized and channeled, and depending on the individual, it’s important to have the right personalities leading the team to know how best to deal with different individuals and personalities. This all ultimately leads to a well-oiled machine, a team that is functioning to their best abilities, and the company getting the best performance out of them.”
Now, while such an exercise can bring with it a number of challenges, a lot of them can be mitigated if one has, in the first place, put in the requisite time and effort to get the best people to be a part of one’s team. “Finding a good executive team comes down to knowing what your company culture is, and what your operational strategies are,” Jackson says. “When you know what direction you’re moving in as a company, you will know what kind of individuals you need to fit.”
Omar Jackson won the Young CEO of the Year title at Entrepreneur Middle East’s 2019 Enterprise Agility Awards
When it comes to Berkeley Assets, Jackson is clear that his enterprise is here to shake things up in the private equity industry, and that forward-thinking approach is what is governing how it acts in the business world at large, as a multi-asset private equity firm with a strong, diversified portfolio of investments across the real estate, hospitality, logistics, and technologies sectors. “Like other private equity firms, we raise capital from our partners, from banks, and from institutional investors, but what makes us different is that we also allow private individuals to place capital with us for fixed rates of return, offering retail clients a safe and reliable source of income, whilst giving us access to low cost capital,” Jackson says. He also notes that his company differentiates itself in the manner it works and interacts with its clients.
“One of our main business principals in our approach to clients is to deliver active management with no surprises,” he explains. “We ensure clients understand the investment, they understand what they’re investing in, the features, the risks, and the benefits. We communicate with clients in advance about what we intend to do, we tell them when we’re doing it, and we tell them when we’ve done it. For us, it’s about taking care of client money, and securing appropriate investments for their funds which fit with their circumstances. We invest in propositions where there are very tangible assets and not physical security, but a tried, tested, and proven investment.”
When asked why Berkeley Assets is going down what could be seen as an arguably unconventional route for a private equity firm, Jackson points out that he sees it simply as a means to capitalize on a rather untapped market. “In today’s hyper-connected world, people want to be part of the best opportunities out there,” Jackson says. “Private equity is the best way of protecting and investing large sums of money. It’s what the ultra-high net worth individuals do, so why shouldn’t it be accessible to more people? We see this as an innovation in the finance industry. Going back 15 or 20 years ago, the concept of trading money, stocks and shares, was seen as ‘cool.’ It was a fun thing to do, and a way to make money. Today, it’s considered untrustworthy with high fees. We’re bringing the fun back into placing your hardearned capital."
"Our low-risk strategy, predominantly with UK- and US-asset backed businesses which we can see and touch, means that we’re offering a lifestyle option to people who want to invest GBP50,000 or US$50,000 or more.” As Jackson points out, all of this is a reflection of how Berkeley Assets strives to do things differently from the rest of its peers in the market, and as far as he is concerned, this kind of innovation is absolutely necessary in order to ensure its long-term success. “You see case studies all the time now of businesses that didn’t innovate,” Jackson notes. “No one wants to be the next Blockbuster Video.”