“Life of a Private Equity Professional from a Female Perspective” was the topic of an online event on 16. June 2020 that Frankfurt School’s Career Services organised for its female students. The business school’s partnership with Level 20 allowed students to gain authentic insights. Twelve senior female professionals in private equity (PE) founded Level 20 in the UK in 2015. The organisation aims to inspire women and encourage them to pursue successful careers in PE. A key target is to increase the number of women holding senior roles in the European PE industry by twenty per cent. One of Level 20’s initiatives is a mentoring programme for women in PE firms. They also organise networking events, information sessions and training about the industry. The online event at Frankfurt School is part of these efforts.
Representatives of Level 20’s DACH chapter, Martina Pfeiffer, Director at Advent International, and Deborah Fischer, Vice President of the Healthcare Team at Triton Partners, hosted the event and answered students’ questions on what is required to land a job in PE, work-life-balance, and the effects of the ongoing Corona crisis on the industry. Here is a summary of the key insights and advice the speakers shared:
- Know your data modelling! But keep in mind, anyone can train data-modelling skills!
- Prepare! Do your homework when invited to a job interview. Applicants should thoroughly research the firm’s portfolio, its investment focus as well as its position.
- Do your due diligence on the company culture when it comes to a prospective employer. The speakers’ key advice: “Pick a company that fits your personality”. Both speakers acknowledged that male candidates were better prepared for interviews. They encouraged the attendees to catch up with their male counterparts and stressed that have the knowledge and the skillsets.
- Prepare targeted, relevant and unique questions for the interview. Demonstrate your curiosity and deep interest.
Is prior experience in investment banking necessary?
Both women agreed that experience in investment banking (IB) was helpful to move on to PE but not the only path into the industry. In IB, however, one can grow one’s skillset and become more confident through deals. Both emphasised that new employees need to know the basics and should only ask what they do not know. The teams are smaller than in IB, new colleagues are expected to know their craft, at least to a certain extent. Particularly:
- Data modelling skills
- Knowledge of the sales process
- How to be efficient
- The IB network
PE firms in Germany require a sound knowledge of German
Internships in PE are possible. However, students should not do their very first internship in PE. Companies in the industry are keen on hiring interns. The speakers also stressed that PE firms in Germany require a certain fluency in German for all their staff. International students who want to join the PE industry in Germany should learn the language; analysts need to talk to colleagues or to employees of their portfolio companies, who quite often only speak German.
Last but not least….
The two speakers encouraged attendees to look into PE – they should use the opportunities as many PE companies are looking for female talent. They were sure that the women studying at Frankfurt School are well prepared and equipped to be successful in the industry.