A LOOK AT OUR 2019 WOMEN’S PRIVATE EQUITY SUMMIT
Our 7th Annual Kayo Women’s Private Equity Summit just wrapped with a record-setting number of attendees including leading women in private equity, venture capital, and M&A. Held over two days at the Boston Harbor Hotel, the event had a little something for everyone – new leadership workshops, opportunities to connect with others through cocktail receptions, coffee breaks, and shopping, plus programming that featured leaders in private equity.
If you missed this year’s event, here’s a birds-eye view of what was covered. But for the most in-depth information, you’ll just have to attend in 2020.
FIRED UP, NOT BURNT OUT
The topic of one of our inaugural leadership workshops, Fired Up, Not Burnt Out set the tone of the event. Our attendees came to the event ready to learn, connect, and find the next deal, and, most importantly, they came fired up!
Shelby Wanstrath (left), Teacher Retirement System of Texas interviews Anilu Vazquez – Ubarri, TGP Global.
OPENING FIRESIDE CHAT
There was no better way than starting the program with Anilu Vazquez-Ubarri, TPG Global, Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). Together with Shelby Wanstrath, Co-Head of Private Equity Funds at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, and a trailblazer in her own right, they discussed TPG’s initiatives to make the company a better place to work.
With a witty spirit and no-nonsense demeanor, Anilu shared about the necessity of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As CHRO, Anilu feels empowered by having access and influence over decisions that matter.
NAVIGATING A RECESSION GOES BEYOND MARKET KNOWLEDGE
There is one question on the mind of a lot of investors right now – how do you deploy $1 trillion with a recession on the horizon? We are talking about record levels of dry powder and with many worried about being near the top of a market cycle, how do you deploy capital while also preparing for a falling market? Debra Lussier (Ropes & Gray), and moderator, navigated the topic and provided the audience some answers. Perspectives from LPs and GPs included those from Daniel Miller (NYC Board of Education), Suzanne Streeter (Partners Capital), Tricia Glynn (Advent International), and Amy Christensen (The Vistria Group). All agreed a recession is likely upon us and that strategies like tapping into talent who have been through cycles before and ensuring a diverse and inclusive team are two ways to mitigate risk that go beyond market knowledge.
Networking came easy with the backdrop of the Boston harbor and women who make it a point to champion each other.
STRATEGIES FOR ACHIEVING SUCCESS
What do you say to a group of leading women in private equity who are starting the day hungry and ready? If you are Lauren Dillard you say “yes to opportunity”. After almost two decades at The Carlyle Group Lauren took her own advice and said yes to a new opportunity to lead Nasdaq’s Global Information Services. In Lauren’s opening keynote address she shared these strategies as ways to achieve success:
- Be a constant learner. Approach everything from the standpoint, “how can I learn from this?”
- Say no if you can’t move, say no if you have health or family issues. But don’t say no if you think you can’t do it, because you can.
- Find your squad, build a network. Everyone needs a group of people to seek out independent advice and help decision-making.
- Seek out board memberships. There’s never been a better time than now. Explore the many organizations that provide training for female board placement.
Peggy Koenig (Abry Partners) shares about her professional experience and insight with Jane Goldstein (Ropes & Gray)
RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW
Jane Goldstein (Ropes & Gray), introduced us to Boston icon, Peggy Koenig (Abry Partners). We learned from Peggy the importance of being present in your life “right here, right now” and that “time takes time” – in other words, be patient yet persistent. Peggy shared her learnings throughout her career, and today she’s applying her expertise to the issues of inclusion, diversity and human rights.
RECOGNIZING THE FUTURE OF CONSUMER BRANDS
Consumer brands are increasingly creating community around brands as they aim to attract the rise of millennials and Gen Z who want to align purchasing power with their values: authenticity, inclusion, and sustainability. We learned more about how disintermediation drives innovation in consumer products from a talented group of female leaders led by moderator Kerensa Butler (RSM) and hearing from speakers Cristin Singer (RSM), Amanda Morrison (Ropes & Gray), Suzanne Norris (Victress Capital), Tehmina Haider (Harry’s Ventures), and Kathryn Cavanaugh (Capstar Ventures). “High growth companies that don’t see their business at the intersection of consumer and technology are going to have a hard time sustaining that growth in long term.”
BREAKOUT SESSIONS PROVIDE A CUSTOMIZED AFTERNOON
Our attendees have limited time, so we want to make the most of it by providing breakout sessions for them to select from and dive into topics they are most interested in. Here’s what they had to choose from:
1. BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES: KEY FINANCING STRATEGIES FOR SPONSORS AND LENDERS AHEAD OF AN ECONOMIC DOWNTURN
Most everyone agrees that an economic downturn is soon approaching. This seasoned panel of both sponsors and lenders including Sam Koplik (Dechert), Irene Wang (Falcon Investment Advisors), Sandra Mason (Audax Group), Laura Grattan (Thomas H. Lee), Lorie Beers (Cowen), and Liz Chang (Berkshire Partners) discussed strategies to prepare for a cycle change through a range of options and approaches, including sponsor guarantees, default/forbearance considerations, and equity cures.
2. EXIT PLANNING – PACE YOURSELF AND DON’T LOSE STEAM AT THE FINISH LINE
Standing room only for attendees who came to hear firsthand about best practices for exit planning from a talented group of speakers including Gerrie Sinatra (Dechert), Sylvie Gadant (Citrin Cooperman), Caroline Kung (H.I.G. Capital), Caroline Young (Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney), Kristin Steen (CCMP Capital) and Alison Fiore (Tailwind Capital). Strategies for a successful exit start on day one and include conducting regular scans, collecting data from portfolio companies, focusing on potential value detractors, and executing on key strategic growth initiatives.
From Left: Mary Kate Bertke (Great Hill Partners), Kristina Koutrakos (Virginia Retirement System), Christine Kelleher (National Gallery of Art), Elizabeth Traxler (Neuberger Berman)
3. FUNDRAISING: DIFFERENTIATION THROUGH EFFECTIVE STORYTELLING
In planning for an upcoming fundraise, it is more important than ever for GPs to stand out in a crowded market. All too often, GPs get wrapped up in minutia and neglect to communicate critical ideas and concepts, their visions of success or even why their LP audience should care. However, this panel of LPs including Stephanie Berdik (Kirkland), Kristina Koutrakos (Virginia Retirement System), Christine Kelleher (National Gallery of Art), Elizabeth Traxler (Neuberg Berman), Lynn Alexander (Kelso & Company), and Mary Kate Bertke (Great Hill Partners) were here to help tailor a GPs message and provide some insight as to what resonates with LPs when evaluating a pitch.
4. HOT INVESTMENT TOPICS FOR LPS
Many topics were covered by this distinguished panel of LPs and LP Consultants including Nicole Washington (Kirkland), Sharmila Kassam (Funston Advisory Services), Xinxin Liu (Wells Fargo), Sarah Samuels (NEPC), Ilene Levinson (Hamilton Lane) and Dominique Cherry (City of Philadelphia). However, one topic stood out above all: impact investing. Impact investing is clearly a growing trend, but it’s been difficult to measure the performance in a consistent manner. One panelist emphasized the importance of due diligence in selecting funds as some funds may have an “impact investing” label yet the criteria has not been fully vetted.
5. BIOTECH & PHARMA: PARTNERING WITH PRIVATE EQUITY AND VENTURE CAPITAL
In recent years, pharma company R&D budgets have been under pressure. Pharma companies are struggling to find ways to continue to advance the development of attractive drug candidates from their own pipelines while simultaneously looking outside for attractive programs they can acquire. Our panelists including Sarah Solomon (Goodwin), Holly Whittemore (Nimbus Therapeutics), Allison Jeynes-Ellis (Avillion), Deepa Rich (Goodwin), and Susie Harborth (Bio-Innovation Capital and Bio Labs) explored some of the ways that pharma companies and VC/PE firms are partnering to develop drugs and generate investment returns.
Stephanie Anderson (AlixPartners) moderates the Valuation Challenges: Mo Money, Mo Problems panel
6. VALUATION CHALLENGES: MO MONEY, MO PROBLEMS
This mighty panel moderated by Stephanie Anderson (AlixPartners) and including speakers Beatrice Mitchell (Sperry Mitchell), Kristie Bradford (IBM), and Christine Patrinos (Mozaic Capital) treated attendees to insightful and historical stats from the early days of private equity as an asset class. Overall, the feeling was mutual in expecting high valuations to continue. In this sophisticated market, pricing assets on projected value is simply not an easy task.
7. THE WAR FOR TALENT
Talent is a firm’s most precious asset and these panelists Myra D’Souza (PwC), Mia Hegazy (Catalyst), Courtney Hagen (Littlejohn & Co), Claudine Lussier (The Sterling Group), and Louise Woltz Smith (Private Advisors) shared just how precious the asset truly is. One speaker emphasized that it’s critical to first ensure that your own talent strategy is best in class, and then you can extend this discipline to portfolio companies. This experienced group discussed the use of human capital assessment tools like the Hogan Assessment and The Culture Index, and how to use them to bring more structure and engagement to the hiring process.
8. NEXT GENERATION OF FEMALE LEADERS – WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO ATTRACT AND KEEP TOP TALENT?
This panel made up of experienced leaders including Elena Richards (PwC), Dana Gordon (Dana Rebecca Designs), Stephanie Pare Sullivan (Charlesbank Capital Partners), Lynn Whitmore (Wells Fargo) and Gabriela Weiss (Advent International) know that attracting and keeping exceptional talent starts first at the top. One speaker passionately said that keeping talent starts from “leading by being authentic”. In creating a supportive and healthy environment, motivating by incentives (or a carrot), and by measuring in inches not yards. The group also emphasized the value of networking, but not just limiting your group to women, but include men and others with different backgrounds. This is a sure-fire way to diversify, enhance, and grow.
Participants discuss one of 25 topics from Finding the Right Financing Structure to Hiring Trends during our roundtable networking lunches.
A HEALTHY MERGER REQUIRES A DISCIPLINED PLAN
Words of wisdom stemming from years of merger experience flowed easily with this group of professionals including Marni Rozen (RSM), Carolyn Vardi (Ropes & Gray), Julia Karol (The Watermill Group), Jen Busse (RSM), Stephanie Geveda (Warburg Pincus) and Nickie Norris (New Heritage Capital). First, all recognized the importance of acknowledging employees’ fears and concern about “how does this affect me?” Addressing these issues and providing a clear plan and transparent communication, help to calm these fears. It’s important to identify “internal champions” to show by example how the teams can work together and learn from one another. There will always be hiccups, however, and as one speaker mentioned “Integrations are like start-ups; something will always fail, so be ready to accept and be patient keeping the end goal in mind.”
TAPPING INTO THE GIG ECONOMY
It’s not just Uber drivers and Instacart delivery folks. The Gig Economy is here to stay, and Diane Mulcahy, one of the first experts on the topic and author of The Gig Economy shared her thoughts about this rapidly growing segment of the labor force. Diane shared insights on how to tap into talent resources for PE firms and their portfolio companies, the investment opportunities due to this innovation and disruption in the workforce, and even tips about how individuals can develop their own “exit strategy.” The conversation ended on a theme that brought the room full circle and why we attend Kayo events – the value of networking and connecting with others. Diane shared ways for all to make connections, whether an introvert or extravert. Because at the end of day, connecting with leaders and peers is the sure way to trailblaze together.
Each year we make it a point to provide ample time for our attendees to connect with each other, incite deals, and champion their peers. Each session gave women the opportunity to advance their careers by taking the stage and inciting thoughtful conversations. If you attended this year and walked away with new business opportunities or new insights about your own career, we’d love to hear it. Email us.
If you couldn’t make it this year, we look forward to seeing you in 2020.
Check out our photo gallery and get on the list for 2020 to be first to know about programming, our call for speakers, and registration.
What else would you like to know or share about the 2019 Kayo Women’s Credit Forum? Leave your comments below.