Richard Roberts, Director, Investor Relations at Oxford Capital, spoke to GBI Magazine about their pioneering thought leadership initiatives around mindfulness, wellbeing and techniques to help build resilience and clarity amongst entrepreneurs.
As advisers or investors, we often forget that entrepreneurs, founders and CEOs heading up companies, whether they are big or small, need to be supported to ensure their mental health and wellbeing is a priority. It’s especially important in pressured and difficult times such as we’ve experienced over the last 18 months.
Over the summer, we spoke to Roberts about his advocacy for ensuring that founders and CEOs get the help and support they need. Oxford Capital is a privately owned investment management company, based in London. Established over 20 years ago, Oxford Capital has c£450m invested into companies around the UK.
Supporting business leaders
Explaining the principles behind their approach, Roberts highlighted that central to their support strategy as investors is supporting founders. Although investment is important to get them off the ground, Roberts told us that “if a business is to succeed it needs strong founders, who are motivated and focused on delivering the business plans”. But it is not always a straightforward route to that success and supporting people with more than just investment is key. This is what Oxford Capital is all about.
For example, working closely with founders, they also sit on the board of the majority of companies they invest in, helping with a variety of day to day issues such as best practice, ESG etc. Part of their support will take the form of shared experiences and learning from other companies who are at similar stages of development. The last 18 months have seen the additional pressures of isolation impacting directly on the mental health of some founders creating even greater anxiety and pressure. Oxford Capital’s approach is to ensure that with most start up companies support is always available to founders and ensuring that alongside business support they have the emotional support they need as both input into building long term successful businesses.
A consistent approach
Turning to how this might look on a practical level, Roberts adds that this is not an isolated activity and he likens it to more of a consistent style within Oxford Capital. Research and feedback across their portfolio showed that a high percentage of founders have reported that running a business has affected their mental health, especially around the pressure and expectations of how that business was performing. There was a consistency to that feedback that most believe this to have been one of the most difficult periods of time they have had to endure. What they have developed Roberts likens to a consistent methodology towards needs, to provide the tools and skills needed and to remove the reliance on the founder as an individual carrying most of the responsibilities. Instead, their approach is to help build a team around them to collectively deliver the business and the vision.
We asked how such a consistent approach might apply and be adopted more broadly across GBI Magazine’s readership. Roberts commented that everyone has felt the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns, noting that advisers and wealth managers up and down the country will have had to make real changes to their business models with many adapting and transitioning their businesses to a digital and online format. The commonality of themes runs right across all companies big and small, with Roberts adding that advisers will relate to having to adapt under pressure, with many facing similar pressures to entrepreneurs.
The 7 pillar plan
Roberts is clearly an advocate for ensuring wellbeing and mental health needs are treated with equal importance to business development needs. He summarised the approach by looking to support CEOs and Founders through these really difficult times. Importantly, he outlined their 7 pillars to help build resilience and clarity amongst their companies. Central to these is the knowledge that they are not alone, and shared experiences amongst other founders helps everyone learn how to help build resilience.
Oxford Capital’s 7 pillars to help build resilience and gain clarity on your working life
- Regular exercise to build willpower
- Healthy eating for keeping up energy levels
- Getting enough sleep, rest builds patience
- Get back to meeting friends and family for personal happiness
- Occasional solitude for clarity and self reflection
- Keep training and developing to build personal skills set and knowledge
- Taking time off to gain perspective and reflect as taking a step back is often powerful
- Build resilience and gain clarity on their working life
About Richard Roberts, Director, Investor Relations
Richard has worked in venture capital for over 12 years and is a member of the Investment Committee at Oxford Capital. His experience lies in strategic and financing transactions for UK SMEs within the TMT, property and clean-tech sectors. Richard’s early career was spent at HW Fisher, a UK Top 30 Chartered Accountants firm, providing advisory services in the wealth management and property divisions. Richard is a Chartered Fellow of the CISI and the Institute of Consulting. He currently sits on several portfolio company boards.