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Mark Brady, who for more than 20 years has served as global head of M&A for boutique investment bank William Blair & Co., has an uncanny ability to negotiate a deal just to the breaking point and wind up on top. It's this skill that puts Brady on top when it comes to dealmakers. It's certainly what made him Pamlico Capital's go-to guy. At the beginning of 2012, Pamlico started mulling the idea of selling TMW Systems Inc. Pamlico had originally acquired the enterprise software company seven years prior when Brady sold it to the private equity firm. During the intervening years, Brady stayed in close contact with Pamlico and consistently communicated various opportunities to the group.

"Mark had shown us good ideas along the way," Walker Simmons, a partner at Pamlico, explains. "When it came time to sell, we interviewed a handful of leading middle-market investment banks, but William Blair and Brady did the best job in the pitch."

Brady proved to be the right choice. He and his team advised Pamlico on its sale of TMW to Trimble Navigation Ltd. (Nasdaq: TRMB) for $335 million in an all-cash deal, reaping Pamlico 11 times its initial investment.

"Mark is a master at knowing what to do when the final bids come in," says Simmons. "We had three or four final bidders, and he knew who to go back to, who had more gas in their tank and when to push further. Mark got us a premium valuation. We were very pleased with the outcome."

Simmons adds that, at the outset of the process, Brady had correctly identified how much William Blair could sell the company for and who the most likely bidders would be.

None of this is surprising to Brady's colleagues. "Mark is exceptional, because he is so agile. He can negotiate hard for a client, directly impact the situation and make something great happen and then switch to working on something altogether different," says Brent Gledhill, global head of investment banking at William Blair.

Brady and his team of about 200 advisers work across seven sectors and completed 76 transactions totaling $13.8 billion in 2012. Overall, Brady's team increased its number of transactions by 31 percent year-over-year and increased its transaction value by 15 percent.

Outside of working on transactions, Brady has been instrumental in growing the firm's global presence. Brady argues that having locals on the ground that work for William Blair is the best way to service clients and has made a point of hiring local advisers and even learned to speak Mandarin to better communicate with clients and new employees in China. Brady's strategy was used to launch an office in Frankfurt. Brady hired the staff for the new office throughout 2012.

These attributes have made him a mentor at William Blair. "Mark is a strong leader and a lot of people at the firm look up to him," says Gledhill. "In 2012, he really showed how exceptional he is by using his laser-like focus to deal with different situations and achieve great outcomes."

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