Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Women in Private Equity Event, and More Reflections on Women in the Workplace

My firm hosted a women in private equity seminar event on Monday, about which I initially felt a bit conflicted.

On the one hand, I was pretty thrilled that we were hosting a women-only event with a panel of women at the upper echelons of their esteemed careers (let's pause and consider that 20 years ago we likely couldn't have found such speakers for a panel, much less fill a conference room to capacity); on the other hand I worried that this only served to draw the distinction between "women's issues" versus "men's issues," making it appear as if work-life balance is only a woman's concern while men flit merrily through their lives working hard and having no issues or conflicts of conscience.  As I've stated again and again, the other half of the human population must show up in order for women to be equals in name and in fact, and for the strides made by women to be sustainable.

In retrospect, I'm so glad that we hosted the event.  I've come away from it with the belief that there is an appropriate and important purpose for women-only events.  It fosters and bolsters candid discussions about issues that others (men) may not be able to relate (and not necessarily because they don't want to or aren't interested).  The next generation of women have to succeed not by donning man-nish mannerisms or by trying to ingratiate themselves into boys' clubs, but rather, by challenging the institutional norms that make such behavior the norms in the first place.

I loved that the panelists were completely frank, comfortable in their own skin, owning the issues and challenges that they have faced and that women in the industry continue to face - but also acknowledging and extolling the incredible rewards and benefits of their jobs.   Every single person on the panel was a woman, a minority, a mother... and oh yeah, head of the entire Asia Pacific division of their respective bank and/or private equity firm.  It was very inspiring.

It seems incredibly basic and obvious to state, but I don't think women are told enough, while navigating their careers, that being at the top of the totem pole can be really fun.  Making decisions, managing others, having the autonomy and control and freedom to dictate how you want a plan or a deal to be rolled out - this is power.  And every woman has the right to choose what she wants to do with her life, and how she wants her career to progress - but I worry that not enough women get to the point in the careers where they can really enjoy it.  It really struck me, as the panelists were chatting (very honestly and openly) about how they began their careers in private equity, the role advisors and mentors have played in their career paths, and the challenges they have encountered in their respective roles, how much they now relish being in the driver's seat.

The evening ended with a cocktail hour where attendees met the panelists, and everyone mingled and networked with each other.  I really enjoyed the event overall and I hope the attendees found it as invigorating and inspiring as I did. 


  1. Congratulation! I have some career questions that I really need your help. Can you private message or email you? Many thanks.

    1. Hi! Sure. Please let me know where I can best reach you.