'No challenges, just opportunities': Q&A with IPIF's Jonathan van Rooyen August 2019

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Jonathan van Rooyen has been appointed as the new chief investment officer of Infrastructure Partners Investment Fund. He tells Industry Moves what drew him to the firm, about the changes to infrastructure investments over the past five years, and about his excitement for the 5G revolution that "will change our lives as we know it". He also offers some sage advice to his younger self and a shout out to the 'wise heads'.

What drew you to the role?

Our Chief Executive Officer, Nicole Connolly established Infrastructure Partners Investment Fund over four-years ago and has been the visionary and driver behind creating a platform for smaller investors to access this asset class. But the key driver behind my decision to join IPIF was the culture of trust and transparency that Nicole has built and importantly, that all investors, regardless of how big or small, are treated equally. That’s the sign of an extraordinary and sustainable investment business.

How have you seen infrastructure investments change in the past 5 years?

The definition of infrastructure investment is fast evolving from the traditional core infrastructure assets - for example: airports, seaports, toll-roads and regulated electricity transmission and distribution - to include emerging sub-sectors such as telecommunication infrastructure.
These new asset classes share many of the key underlying infrastructure characteristics such as predictable and stable cash flow profiles with high-barriers to entry.
This change is partly driven by the exponential growth of data through the proliferation of real-time on-demand video, cloud services, and mobile data usage.

"...the key driver behind my decision to join IPIF was the culture of trust and transparency."

What investments are you most excited about?

Looking at some of the key mega trends of today, I am excited about the upcoming 5G revolution that will change our lives as we know it today - and what that means to the broader infrastructure investment universe. I believe the future roll-out of 5G technology, coupled with artificial intelligence and big data analytics, will trigger major investments across all telecommunication network domains and related infrastructure. We will likely see infrastructure investors playing a role funding some of the huge investments that are going to be required in coming years.

Can you share some of your goals for the first 12 months?

We have some exciting plans - but the primary focus is on delivering our IPIF Core investment mandate.
Besides, to find out more, you’ll need to become an investor!

"Looking at some of the key mega trends of today, I am excited about the upcoming 5G revolution."

What do you think will be the biggest challenges in your new role?

I don’t believe in challenges. There are only opportunities.

What was the impetus for your career in finance?

I grew up in a family where we were encouraged to challenge and be inquisitive and to have an informed opinion. The breadth and depth of the Australian finance industry was a natural outlet for me.
Then there was the amazing support of informal mentors throughout my working life who guided and enriched my career. I am still in contact with most of these, sometimes long-suffering, ‘wise heads’. They all know who they are!

"I don’t believe in challenges. There are only opportunities."

What advice would you give to your 21-year old self?

Build a network and associate yourself with experienced men and women who are genuine leaders. Leaders care about people, they always put the team first - and will always have your back. The Australian investment management industry is packed full of them. Ask lots of questions and work hard. And when you get knocked off your feet, get up and go again!

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