The interview below is part of a yearlong effort by McGuireWoods to profile up-and-coming women leaders in private equity (PE). To read previous profiles, click here. To recommend a rising star for a future interview, email Amber Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kim Hruby joined Council Capital in 2016 to lead the outbound marketing efforts. A top development leader in the healthcare sector, she successfully uses her 25-plus years of experience to educate business owners regarding PE and how their ultimate vision can be achieved. Hruby focuses on building executive-level relationships and a network that results in identifying partnerships that support the firm's mission to invest in companies on the right side of healthcare change.
Q: What both attracted you to PE but potentially concerned you about this chosen career path?
Kim Hruby: My role in business development was brand new for our firm, so it was an exciting opportunity to create a vision for deal sourcing and put into play an active strategy to identify the ideal investments for us. I have worked in multiple industries and had the confidence that the essential skills necessary to succeed in development in any other industry would transfer to PE. The challenge with PE, as with any new industry, is it has its own language, rules and structure that are important to know when you are engaging with business owners about their livelihood and future. I was also surprised by the somewhat reluctant response to even engage in conversation with business owners, given some generalized misperceptions of PE at large and the velocity at which they are receiving calls.
Q: What is a lesson that you have learned concerning what's required for success in PE?
KH: I think success in development, which is largely educational, happens with dedication, passion, drive and ambition. These traits are also essential to thrive in the world of PE.
In any development process, it's essential to uncover underlying needs and motivation of the owner. That can only be obtained through focused listening and matching those qualities to the value your PE firm can deliver. I've learned that business owners don't initially care how much I know about PE and who I know in the financial industry. They care more that their total needs are being met — not just financial — and their concerns are getting addressed so that they achieve the personal win required for a successful transaction.
Q: Why is it important for more women to pursue careers in PE?
KH: Looking at this from a historical perspective, men have been drawn into finance careers more than women. So, it's not surprising that men in PE have generally dealt with male business owners in the sale of their business.
Now that more women are empowered with a spirit of entrepreneurialism and are leading successful enterprises, they will want to work with PE firms that can demonstrate an understanding of their thoughts and perspectives and will support them to carry out their mission. A balance between the sexes is truly needed in this industry.
I don't think men or women want there to be a "good ol' boys club" anymore. It is proving out that women in PE not only can demonstrate the skillset and pedigree to compete equally with men, but also bring a balance and perspective to deal-making that inherently produces excellent transactions.
I think it can be intimidating for women to enter a field where we are underrepresented. It can feel daunting to take on a career in PE; however, our sense of compassion, ability to see through the ego and skill at resolving differences to conclude a successful transaction are the attributes necessary for private equity in the 21st century to prosper.
Q: How can women best prepare themselves for the challenge and reward of private equity?
KH: Coming from outside of the industry and still considered "new" to the PE world, I would encourage women to network in advance, learn the language of PE and find a mentor to guide you through the system. Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for advice. Communicate clearly your career aspirations and ask for a defined process on how to get there. As women, we need to be our own best advocates. Creating a pathway for success means bringing a team alongside you that's committed to helping you be the best you can be.
To contact Hruby, email email@example.com.