There are a few moments in everyone's career where they can either seize an opportunity or let it pass them by.

In a recent interview produced by finance career site, OneWire, Ted Virtue, Founder & CEO of the private equity firm, MidOcean Partners, recounts his memorable sink or swim moment at the very beginning of his career.

Here's how it all started:

“I started at [Drexel Burnham Lambert] and we started this…brand new product in a growing firm, and about a month into my job, which I was really enjoying, the guy who hired me…came in and said, ‘I’m leaving.’ And the other guy about two months after that also said he’s leaving…And they said good luck!”

Suddenly, Virtue was left alone to manage the High Yield Paper department at Drexel. He says he looked about 15 at the time:

“So I’m 23 years old and I’m running a big trading operation. We were underwriting a brand new product…and we’re running about a $5BN book of business…And I said, what do I do? I got to get some people here to do this! And I was 23 and I looked 15 at the most. So I literally went out to people that would actually believe in me to do it, because no one who had been experienced in the business would work with me or for me. So I hired my college roommate, and then I hired my next door neighbor and I started bringing in young guys who said, I get it. They were the only people who would come work for me!”

“It was a lot of fun,” Virtue says, “because we did it with an incredibly young, inexperienced team…it was an incredible experience to be learning on the run.”

The business was very profitable to boot.

Virtue’s early success led him to an accomplished career on Wall Street. After Drexel, he went to Bankers Trust to help build out their investment bank. When Bankers Trust was acquired by Deutsche Bank, Virtue opted for something more entrepreneurial. He became the Chief Executive of DB Capital Partners.

Later, he and his colleagues bought out their portfolio and founded MidOcean Partners, a midmarket private equity firm managing investments for over 75 companies with over $2.5BN under management, where he currently serves as CEO. You may have seen MidOcean in the news recently for the sale of Bushnell Outdoor Products to Alliant Techsystems.

Watch the Virtue’s Open Door interview on OneWire here, or check out the video below:

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