Last week, a number of women from a wide range of firms across the private equity industry joined us to discuss their experience of career progression. Livingbridge partners, Shani Zindel and Wol Kolade, shared their perspectives from over 25 years of experience in the industry. Whilst the discussion focused upon how the industry has changed over that time, they also looked at which areas which have remained constant.
Wol stressed the importance of creating a culture in private equity which welcomes diversity, and how this is created by operating through a non-hierarchical company structure as well as encouraging an inclusive way of thinking across the firm. At Livingbridge we celebrate the diversity of our employees, which we believe brings increased creativity, variety of perspectives and faster problem-solving.
The discussion focused on the key qualities necessary to succeed on the path to partnership, including the importance of self-belief and confidence as well as the ability to learn from and persevere through failures. Shani added that in her experience the private equity industry welcomes uniqueness, which she has found to be a career enabler rather than a hindrance.
With recent advances in areas such as AI, genomics and autonomous vehicles, Wol noted that there has never been a more exciting time to work in private equity and have the privilege of meeting visionary entrepreneurs. With private equity firms also using tech in new innovative ways, the routes to getting into the industry are also more varied than ever – the benefit of having a range of different backgrounds around the table is hugely valuable to both investors and investees alike.
The group concluded that the growing and changing private equity industry has never before offered so many career opportunities for ambitious professionals.
Level 20 is a not-for-profit organisation formed, seeded and nurtured by a group of 12 women working in senior roles in private equity, representing both GPs and LPs. They aim to deliver greater representation for women at all levels of the industry, and strive to do this by inspiring women to join and succeed in this dynamic industry. Their belief is that that gender diversity will lead to superior investment performance, particularly as women progress to senior levels.
Wol Kolade shares his thoughts on career paths into the PE & VC industry at the BVCA Diversity Forum 2018.