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?”
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.”
“I do feel that as a female minority in our industry that I have an obligation to elevate women [and minorities] in all fields and industries,” said Suzanne Yoon, founder and managing partner at Chicago-based Kinzie Capital.
And Yoon said that it’s not just diversity in gender and race that she’s after in building her private-equity firm. It’s also diversity in age, experience, ways of thinking. “I know that diversity produces good results,” she said.
Private Equity Women Investor Network plans to expand Project Pinklight–an accelerator program designed to help women launch their own private equity funds. The program addresses an appalling lack of diversity among founding partners.
From beachheads in New York City and San Francisco, where participating firms have closed on a total of some $300 million, the organization plans to roll out the program to Los Angeles and London, Kelly Williams, PEWIN founding chair, told PECW.
In each of its regional headquarters PEWIN expects to usher three to four firms through the accelerator every year, said Williams.
Research by consulting firm McKinsey & Co suggests that companies perform best when they have women represented on their boards and in senior management. So it’s perhaps not surprising that fresh research suggests a similar phenomena in private equity.
Speaking last evening at the National Arts Club in New York City, Oliver Gottschalg, professor at HEC Paris, presented research from his business school and from placement agent MVision suggesting that deals approved by diverse investment committees at buyout firms–those with at least one woman member–significantly outperform those approved by all-male investment committees.
“People don’t realize that one of the greatest gifts you can have in life is being an outsider,” said South African comedian, author, and political commentator Trevor Noah to a packed ballroom in New York City last Thursday night, June 13.
“When you’re an outsider you acknowledge that the world you’re existing in is not your own,” said Noah. “You understand that you are trying to get to something that belongs to someone else. You are the other. And when you’re the other you become comfortable…”
Noah added: “When you’re an insider, few things are more terrifying than being threatened with being an outsider. You feel as though people are taking away something from you. You feel like you’re losing your grip on being part of.”
José E. Feliciano, co-founder and managing partner of Clearlake Capital Group, announced a $500,000 gift to the Toigo Foundation, made jointly by his firm and by the Kwanza Jones & José E. Feliciano Supercharged Initiative.
Feliciano disclosed the gift last night during a short but rousing speech at the Toigo Foundation’s annual gala in New York City during which he challenged the industry to do more to fulfill the foundation’s mission of bringing more diversity to financial services.
“I’m a firm believer that financial success, financial prowess, investment judgment doesn’t have a color, doesn’t have a religion, doesn’t have a gender, doesn’t have a sexual preference,” Feliciano told a packed house in the ballroom of Cipriani Wall Street. “Investment judgment is color-blind and gender-neutral.” Attendees pledged at least another $394,000 during the event via text message.
The Riverside Company has been one of my favorite firms ever since I interviewed a co-founder for a profile in The Private Equity Analyst newsletter over a decade ago. That the firm invites me to its annual media breakfast has further endeared them to me. We reporters appreciate free food.
I recently caught up with the director of global talent management at The Riverside Company, Adam Miller. We talked about the firm’s hiring plans, training opportunities, and what kind of employees tend to fit in there.
I’d get it if you aspired to become the next Leon Black, David Bonderman or Henry Kravis. But why not become the next Margot Wirth instead?
Ms. Wirth, the director of private equity for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, earned more than $450,000 in fiscal year 2017-2018, according to state records. She had the potential to earn more–over $570,000–had her full bonus paid out.
Sure you’ll work hard on the buy-side of the market. But you’re unlikely to have to endure a series of 80-hour work weeks–or to be on call 24-7 while some big deal comes to fruition–or to get an e-mail from HR insisting you take Sunday afternoons off to achieve work-life balance. Consider how Joy Moglia, CFA, investment officer at Weizmann Global Endowment Management Trust, described her job at last month’s Catapult event hosted by the Toigo Foundation.