Shorecrest alumni excel in various fields, including our very own Hilt Tatum ‘99. CEO of iPoint Capital Partners, Tatum says that Shorecrest prepared him for not only college and graduate school, but life in general. Tatum’s advice to current students: “The most defining time of your lives is upon you... Enjoy these years, but set a plan and execute it. The rest of your life will appreciate it.”
While at Shorecrest, Tatum was a part of the Key Club, Prom committee, the Junior Exchange club, and SADD club, all of which began his ability to lead and innovate. He was also a part of the Varsity baseball, football, basketball and golf teams which helped him gain tremendous teamwork and communication skills, of which he uses to this day.
Today as a CEO, Tatum is responsible for group investments and day-to-day operations of several group companies located in Panama, London, and Singapore. Based in Panama, he cherishes the skills he gained at Shorecrest for his professional life today. Tatum describes how by taking calculated risks, an individual/professional can be provided countless opportunities.
We were able to connect with this accomplished alum and find out what he has been up to since graduating from Shorecrest.
For those unfamiliar with private equity firms/wealth management, how would you describe it for readers?
I would describe iPoint as operational active private equity, or a business conglomerate. We own and operate a handful of businesses across a variety of sectors, without much rhyme or reason as to the industries we are in. For example, we have healthcare in Europe, commodities in Asia and Latin America, real estate development and construction in Latin America, FinTech in Europe, technology in Asia, and a technology/big pharma partnership with the UN to try and improve the quality, distribution and price control of pharmaceutical drugs to the developing world out of Europe and Asia, etc. We are entirely opportunistic as to the businesses that excite us, but have a focus on impact investing. On the local front, we are participating in a St. Pete-based tech company called Prove-it.
One of our motivations is building long-term businesses. Over the past 15 years we have only sold 2 companies, and hope to hang on to our existing businesses for many years to come. I feel this gives us an advantage over the typical private equity groups who have defined mandates to exit an investment within a defined period of time. We are focused on long-term value creation, not just for the shareholders, but for the communities, customers, and other stakeholders involved. This is an important part of what we do.
Is there an example of something that you have been most proud in building your career?
Without a doubt, the item I am most proud of is the jobs we have been able to create. We have directly or indirectly created approximately 5,000 jobs, many in communities that were struggling. Seeing the direct impact this has on the lives of those people is very motivating.
I also enjoy the international element of my work. I travel around 170,000 miles per year, often touching Asia, Europe and the Americas in the same week. I love the multi-cultural part of what I do.
What influenced your career path?
Taking calculated risks: I had the opportunity/risk (depending on how you look at it) to start a company whilst in college. The big decision came after the first semester of my senior year. We were raising venture capital money and the investors were clear: commit yourself full time to the business and we invest, or go back to school and look for another investor. I made the decision to leave school one semester shy of graduating. This is not the traditional message or choice, but this decision was the best career choice of my life as the opportunity clearly fit into my plan. If I would have taken the easy path, the lower risk path, I would have missed out on something special. I am not suggesting you drop out of school and chase a dream, but I am suggesting that when opportunity knocks, do not be afraid to take a chance and seize it. In my case, I never wound up completing that last semester of undergrad, but I was still able to get accepted to grad school some years later, meaning this move benefited me both professionally and academically.
How did Shorecrest prepare you for life outside of the classroom?
In quite a few ways. Most importantly, my wife, Sarah Bennett Tatum ‘03, is a Shorecrest Alumna. We now have three daughters. I also have lifelong friends from Shorecrest, one who not only acts as a Godfather to one of my children, but who I’ve also done business with. These relationships are priceless.
Shorecrest also taught me some important education, life and business lessons. First, it prepared me for college. In fact, I thought undergrad was quite easy, likely a result of the way Shorecrest prepared me. Second, it taught me how to compete. Each class is full of highly intelligent, highly motivated students that require you to commit yourself to the objective or risk falling behind. I wouldn’t say I excelled academically in high school (as my friends can attest), but my Shorecrest experience prepared me to excel in college and go on to grad school at the University of Oxford.