Photo by Chris Leary

Students and alumni at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business who are interested in private equity will now have an expanded suite of programming opportunities thanks to a $5 million gift from Chicago Booth alumnus Raymond Svider, ’89, managing partner at BC Partners, an international private equity firm he joined in 1992.

The gift will establish the Svider Private Equity Program at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Since its creation in 1998, the Polsky Center has established itself as a leading resource for Chicago Booth students and alumni interested in private equity. The center leverages the expertise of Chicago Booth’s faculty, which includes top private equity practitioners and researchers, most notably Steve Kaplan, faculty director of the Polsky Center and Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance. Kaplan has gained worldwide distinction as a cutting-edge researcher in private equity, publishing papers on the subject in leading academic and business journals.

“Raymond’s generous gift will allow us to even better support the aspirations of our students and alumni in the private equity space, across the globe,” said Kaplan. “The Svider Private Equity Program will greatly expand our ability to offer innovative hands-on and academic learning opportunities to complement the fundamentals of the classroom.”

Over the years, the Polsky Center has seen increased demand from students and alumni for programming in private equity. Long-standing programs—such as the Elfman-Wareham Private Equity and Venture Capital Lab, the Beecken Petty O’Keefe & Company Private Equity Conference, and the Sterling Partners Investment Thesis Challenge—have grown in both size and scope as the Polsky Center has continued to augment its offerings. Today, some 300 students compete for entry to the Private Equity and Venture Capital Lab, which combines an intensive internship at a private equity firm with an academic course. The number of students who secure internships through this program has more than doubled in the past five years—from 53 students in 2015 to 116 in 2017.

Svider, who studied at École Polytechnique and École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications in France prior to earning his MBA, spoke to the impact of his Chicago Booth education: “Chicago Booth was an ideal complement—both academically and culturally—to my undergraduate engineering background,” Svider said. “An MBA from one of the top programs in the US helped me gain access to the most attractive private equity jobs after graduation—my Booth degree was an ideal stepping stone, an entry ticket to my ideal career,” he added. “I hope the gift will enable Booth to attract top students in this academic specialty and make other Booth alumni consider doing the same.”

At BC Partners, Svider has participated and led investments in a number of sectors, including TMT, health care, industrials, business services, consumer, and retail. He is currently executive chairman of PetSmart and chairman of the board of Accudyne Industries, and he also serves on the boards of Intelsat (NYSE "I"), Altice USA (NYSE “ATUS”), and Teneo Global. He previously served as a director of Office Depot, Multiplan, Unity Media, Neuf Cegetel, Polyconcept, Neopost, Nutreco, UTL, and Chantemur.

The Svider Private Equity Program has three main goals: to increase the resources available to students and alumni pursuing private equity careers; to strengthen Booth’s private equity alumni community; and to build Booth’s national and global brand as a hub for private equity education. Programming enhancements include expanded opportunities for students to connect with private equity alumni and other experts in the field through additional Entrepreneur-in-Residence positions and programming; enhanced networking and educational opportunities for alumni; and broader distribution of Chicago Booth’s thought leadership in the industry.