Financial Sponsors


Leslie Cheek IV
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Les Cheek

Les is the Head of Baird’s Global Financial Sponsors Group and is a member of the firm’s Investment Banking Management Committee. Les joined Baird in 2005 as a Managing Director to open Baird's Boston office. In this role, Les has assisted numerous private equity firms in acquiring new platform companies as well as pursuing liquidity events either through public offerings or merger transactions. Les also works with Baird's Business Services team on transactions in the BPO/CRM Services sector. Les is also a member of the firm's Fairness Committee. Prior to joining Baird, Les spent almost six years at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, most recently as a Managing Director in the Business and Technology Services Group. Prior to his time at SunTrust, Les worked as an investment banker at Tucker Anthony Incorporated (now part of RBC Securities) in Boston for seven years. He received a B.A. from Harvard College.

Scot Berg
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Scot Berg

Scot Berg is a member of Baird’s Financial Sponsor Coverage Group, managing the firm’s relationships with a number of leading private equity firms. Scot joined Baird from RBC Capital Markets where he was a Managing Director within the firm’s Industrial and Diversified Services team. During his tenure at RBC, Scot originated and executed a broad range of advisory and financing mandates in the diversified industrial and services sectors, with a particular focus on capital goods / machinery, industrial services and select building product (HVAC) names. As one of that group’s senior calling officers, he led meaningful idea generation and dialogue with numerous middle-market and large-cap sponsors. Prior to RBC, Scot spent several years in Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s investment banking department. He started his career at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Scot earned a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and a B.A. from Dartmouth College.

C. Christopher Coetzee
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Chris Coetzee

Chris is a senior member of Baird's Financial Sponsor Group and a member of the firm's Investment Banking Management Committee and M&A Fairness Opinion Committee. He has over 20 years of Investment Banking experience. Since joining Baird in 1994, Chris has provided financing and advisory services to companies in the Business Services, Telecommunications, Consumer and Industrial sectors.

He was previously a Vice President with the Kidder, Peabody & Co. Midwest investment banking group. Chris received his MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and holds a Bachelor of Honors in Financial Management and Commerce from the University of Cape Town.

He is also a Chartered Accountant and a Certified Public Accountant, and has six years of experience in public accounting with Grant Thornton in the United States and Ernst & Whinney in South Africa

Sarah Gaul
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Sarah Gaul

Sarah Gaul is a member of Baird’s Global Financial Sponsor Coverage Group. Sarah re-joined Baird in 2018, bringing many years of private equity and operational experience.  Prior to re-joining Baird, Sarah spent over five years at Adams Street Partners specializing in secondary and co-investment transactions where she invested alongside many of Baird’s financial sponsor relationships. Sarah has also worked as the Director of Operations at LEARN Charter School Network in Chicago.  Sarah began her career as an analyst in Baird’s Technology & Services group. Sarah received her BS in Finance and International Business from Marquette University.

Vinay Ghai
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Vinay is a Managing Director in Baird's Financial Sponsor Group, focusing on managing relationships with the European sponsor community, as well as a member of Baird's Global Industrial Investment Banking Team. Vinay joined Baird in 2011, bringing extensive experience in acquisitions, disposals and capital raisings for both private equity and public companies across the Consumer, Services, Healthcare and Industrials sectors.

Prior to joining Baird, Vinay spent fourteen years at Hawkpoint, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. Vinay has a first class degree from Imperial College in London and is a qualified Chartered Accountant.

Doug Henry
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Doug Henry is a member of Baird’s Financial Sponsor Coverage Group. Since joining Baird in 2010, Doug has participated in a wide variety of advisory assignments representing both buyers and sellers of public and private companies. In addition, Doug spent a number of years in Baird’s Consumer and Industrial teams providing execution support on mergers and acquisitions, equity offerings and other financial advisory services. Prior to joining Baird, Doug was a Consultant at Chemonics International, where he led numerous public-private investment partnerships between multi-national corporations and various U.S. Government agencies, including The Department of Commerce, The Department of Treasury and the State Department. Doug received his M.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business and graduated with a B.A. from The College of William and Mary.

Thomas W. Lacy
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Tom is a Managing Director in Baird’s Financial Sponsor Coverage group. Since joining Baird in 1997, Tom has participated in a wide variety of advisory assignments representing both buyers and sellers of private and public companies. In addition, Tom has executed numerous debt and equity financings across a range of industries.

Prior to joining Baird, Tom received an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Administration, was a financial analyst with Goldman Sachs & Co. and graduated with honors from Boston College.

Oliver Meyer
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Oliver is a Managing Director in Baird’s European Investment Banking and Global Financial Sponsor group with more than 20 years of investment banking experience. Based in Frankfurt, Oliver works with senior bankers across Baird’s global platform to serve corporate, private equity and family office clients in the DACH region. Oliver joined Baird in 2018 from Société Générale, where he was Head of Financial Sponsors Coverage for Germany & Austria and developed deep relationships with private equity funds, family offices and other financial sponsors in the region. Prior to Société Générale, he spent ten years at Rothschild and four years at Close Brothers Group in M&A banking roles. Oliver has an MBA (Finance) from The American University in Washington, DC.

John Moriarty
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John joined Baird in 2007 as a Managing Director and Head of Baird's Palo Alto Investment Banking office. Prior to joining Baird, he spent 13 years in the investment banking group at AG Edwards (now Wachovia Securities) and established AG Edwards' West Coast Technology Investment Banking practice. During his tenure at AG Edwards, John led his clients in a variety of transactions including public and private equity financings, convertible securities offerings, buy- and sell-side merger and acquisition assignments and other financial advisory activities. From 1989 to 1992, he worked for KPMG Peat Marwick where he was a senior-level auditor responsible for public and private company financial audits.

John received a BS degree in Accounting, cum laude, from Georgetown University, and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from The Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. He is also a graduate from the Securities Industry Institute at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Jeffrey M. Seaman
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Jeff Seaman is a Managing Director in Baird’s Financial Sponsor Group with responsibility for managing the firm’s relationships with a number of leading private equity firms and family offices. During his tenure at Baird, Jeff has worked on a wide variety of sell-side transactions and equity offerings for companies in the industrial, consumer, retail, business services, healthcare and energy sectors. In addition, Jeff served as Co-Head of Baird’s Investment Banking recruiting efforts from 2011 – 2013 focused on undergraduate, M.B.A. and lateral hires. Prior to joining Baird in 2008, he served as Senior Managing Director in the Financial Sponsor Group at Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. Jeff also spent 15 years with Lehman Brothers Inc., serving in a variety of investment banking positions, most recently as Managing Director in the Global Financial Sponsor Group. He holds an M.B.A. in Finance from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a B.B.A. in Finance and a B.A. in Political Science from Southern Methodist University. Jeff is an active member of the Chicago community, serving on the Board of Directors of SGA Youth & Family Services and The Golden Apple Foundation.

Maria Watts
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Maria Watts

Maria Watts is a Managing Director in Baird’s Financial Sponsors Group. Since joining Baird in 2009, Maria has executed numerous mergers and acquisitions and equity offerings. Prior to her current role, Maria was a Managing Director in Baird’s Consumer Group where she advised a number of branded consumer companies in the retail and apparel, footwear & accessory sectors. She began her career as an investment banking analyst at Stephens Inc. During her career, Maria has successfully completed nearly 40 transactions totaling approximately $25.0 billion in value. Maria received her M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and graduated with honors from Centenary College of Louisiana with a B.S. in Business and Spanish.