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Be willing to peel back the onion on a potential opportunity that may not be obvious on the surface - if you feel there is something there, take the time to really dig deeper into that opportunity!
Lindsay Creedon Partner, StepStone Group
My route into the private equity industry started in a fairly traditional way. I started in investment banking out of undergrad at Citigroup, which was a great way to learn the fundamentals of finance and business. Following investment banking, I went into Corporate M&A for several years at two media companies. This is probably a little bit of a less traditional path, but there I really got to see the inside of a business, learning how management teams made decisions and getting much closer to the operations of a business.
After doing that work for some time, I was at a little bit of a fork in the road. I needed to make a decision whether it was the operations side of my job that I really enjoyed, and if so, to continue to work in the corporate world, or if it was the investing side that I really loved and enjoyed. For me, it was clearly the latter, so I looked for a place where investing is what they did for a living. This led me back to Citigroup - to Citigroup Private Equity - where I worked for several years. Citigroup Private Equity eventually merged with the StepStone Group, where I’ve been now for 12 years. I co-head their private equity investment practice.
I first learned about finance in the alternatives industry in my investment banking job, where we worked with some private equity firms. I really got a deeper understanding of the industry as a whole when I worked in corporate M&A since we partnered with private equity firms. This allowed me to see the breadth and depth of deals that these firms got to see every day!
What I love about my job is that I’m constantly looking at new businesses, meeting different management teams and looking at different business models. I’ve been working at StepStone for 12 years, yet I feel like I learn something new every day. There’s always a learning curve in our industry, which I find really exciting.
One quality I’ve found to be important for being successful in alternatives is being willing to peel back the onion on a potential opportunity that may not be obvious on the surface, or one that the group as a consensus might be inclined to dismiss pretty quickly. If there’s something about it you feel could be interesting, and are willing to take the time to really dig deeper, it is a great start. A lot of the investments we’ve made didn’t seem straightforward or obvious at the beginning, but it was really taking the time to dig into the opportunity and not listening to the crowd that was most helpful in ultimately making those great business decisions.
It is important for women to feel empowered to work in alternatives because alternatives is an exciting growth area in finance. There’s a bunch of different sub-segments within alternatives - there’s private equity, private credit, real estate, and all have tremendous growth opportunities.
StepStone, and our industry broadly, has talked about and is really trying to build more diverse workplaces and more diverse teams, and why is that? Investing is so much analysis, but ultimately, judgement amongst the team. To have those diverse perspectives, diverse backgrounds and diverse voices around the table is really important to be able to see the different sides of an opportunity – the risks and the potential upsides that one person may not see and another person may. There is so much opportunity for women in alternatives, not just in the scope of asset classes, but in the voices that should be at the table.
StepStone is a global private markets firm, providing customized investment and advisory solutions to some of the most sophisticated investors in the world. With $548 billion of total capital allocations, including $127 billion in assets under management, they cover the spectrum of investment opportunities across the globe.