When he was a boy, Scott Beiser wanted to grow up to be a garbage truck driver – because he was fascinated by the workings of such a complex machine. Today, as chief executive of Century City investment bank Houlihan Lokey, he’s in charge of a different type of complex machine – the nation’s largest middle-market investment bank. Beiser joined the bank when it had 25 employees and just one office. Today, it has 900 employees at offices in 10 American cities and six foreign countries. Beiser, an L.A. native, started working at Houlihan Lokey right out of business school, and worked his way up to co-chief executive then started to run it solo last year. Houlihan Lokey advised on 119 M&A transactions with values under $3 billion, making it the No. 1 player in the middle market, above Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in that niche. Beiser met with the Business Journal in his Century City office to talk about working his way up as a Houlihan Lokey lifer, what it takes to succeed in the competitive world of investment banking and how he views his role as a manger.

Question: Walk me through a typical day for you.

Answer: I wake up around 6-ish and get to the office around 7:30. I come in with 10 things that I want to get accomplished, and on a good day you get half of them done. I go home with another 10 that I still have to do. My day varies from strategic planning issues, directions we want the company to go, acquisitions, do we want to open up a new office, put more resources in a particular group or other area. Then there’s the litany of ongoing people issues, on what’s working and how you want to get more collaboration. I carry some of my project load as well; I’ll still do some work for clients. I leave somewhere about 6 or 7 p.m.

Tell me about your childhood.

I was born and raised in Gardena. My family moved to the San Fernando Valley, where I attended Cleveland High School. I’ve lived pretty much in the San Fernando Valley for the last 25 or so years. I wanted to be a garbage truck driver when I grew up. I was always fascinated by garbage trucks. I stayed local and went to college at Cal State Northridge. I got my undergraduate and graduate degrees in finance.

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