José Miguel Guzmán has seen PE from both sides now

In his early career José Miguel Guzmán has worked in positions at one of the largest PE shops in the world, and one of the largest pensions–putting him in a unique position to compare and contrast the experiences.

From 2013 to 2016 Guzmán served as an associate at New York, New York-based Cerberus Capital Management. Then, from 2016 through earlier this year, he served as a private equity investment officer for the New York City Employees’ Retirement System. I caught up with Guzmán this week to get his insights into the advantages and disadvantages of working for GPs and LPs. Below is a record of our conversation, edited for length and clarity.

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Private equity makes headway hiring more women; but much work remains, especially at senior levels

Women make up about one in five employees at private equity firms around the world–far from parity but still an improvement over two years ago when data providerPreqin last studied the question. At senior levels, women make up barely more than one in 10.

According to a fact sheet released in advance of its full report, Women in Alternative Assets 2020, Preqin found that in the two years since its 2017 study, the percentage of women in private equity has grown to 19.4 percent, up from 17.9 percent–see chart above.

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In game of risk, it’s always the board’s move

Jay Heilbrunn, president of The Distributor Board Inc and a director on the boards of private companies and organizations over the years, recalls a board meeting at a company whose biggest customer represented a substantial slice of its business.

“What’s the plan for taking $2 million out of expenses next week?” Heilbrunn recalled asking the managers. “They kind of looked at me like this is really a strange question.” Heilbrunn said he persisted: “Well, when this customer leaves, we’re going to have to jettison $2 million of expenses, and where’s it going to come from?”

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Women executives cite progress toward diversity but describe big challenges ahead; sometimes you have to ‘shake it off’

Olga Kaplan, a technology investor at Goldman Sachs, recalls a time earlier in her career when she was in her 20s sourcing new investments in b-to-b software. That meant spending a lot of time with male executives 20 to 30 years her senior.

“I would say probably once every two weeks there was some sort of inappropriate comment…or an offer to fly to Paris in a private jet, which happened multiple times,” said Kaplan (seated at left in picture). Then again, she added, “It’s a lot better now than it used to be.”

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