The interview below is part of a new, yearlong effort by McGuireWoods to profile up-and-coming women leaders in private equity. This new profile series complements our existing Women Leaders in Private Equity profile series, which will continue throughout 2019. To recommend a rising star for a future interview, email Amber Walsh at email@example.com.
Rachel Hannon is a principal at
Summit Park, a Charlotte, N.C.-based PE firm focused
exclusively on the lower middle market.
Hannon joined Summit Park in 2014 and leads
the firm's business development and
investor relations efforts. She is
responsible for the firm's intermediary and
direct sourcing strategy, investor
development, and other firm operational
Prior to joining Summit Park, Hannon worked in
consulting, legal operations and as an investment
banking analyst at Harris Williams. She also serves
as the president of the board of directors for ACG
Charlotte and is a member of the Women's Impact
Fund and on the leadership council of Children's
Home Society of North Carolina. Hannon received her
undergraduate degree from Washington & Lee
University and received a master's degree from New
Q: How did you end up on a PE career path and
what do you enjoy most about private equity?
I had an indirect path from investment banking to
end up in a career in PE. After banking, I spent
four years in a strategy and financial planning and
analysis role at a global law firm. I then
transitioned to pursue my master's degree from NYU
where I studied nutrition and food policy, which is
a passion of mine. I also worked with a food
industry consulting firm while in graduate school.
Upon moving to Charlotte, it was my network from
investment banking that connected me to the
founding partners of Summit Park.
I joined Summit Park as we were closing our first
traditional fund and during a period when the firm
really grew its team and processes. This presented
an opportunity to leverage my past experiences and
wear many hats to support the growth of our
strategy and brand. The variety of work — including
how we source opportunities, structure investments,
recruit and retain talent and create value at our
portfolio companies — continues to be challenging
and rewarding every day. I have also enjoyed
becoming more involved in our investor and
fundraising efforts, including the closing of our
third fund in August 2018.
Q: Who is an example of someone who encouraged
you to pursue a career in PE and why?
Two of my peers from my first job in investment
banking have remained extremely influential in my
life and supported me to pursue PE and navigate the
various roles in the industry. We were the only
three women in our analyst class, and we have
tracked our respective careers over the years and
supported each other through big professional and
life changes. One is actually a current limited
partner in Summit Park, which made our paths come
A handful of mentors that are a decade or so ahead
of me in their careers have also been invaluable
for advice and benchmarking. I had two of my three
young children while working at Summit Park, and it
is my hope that I can encourage other women to
pursue a career in PE, especially during that
period in life.
Q: What is a lesson you have learned concerning
what's required for success in PE?
I think an immensely important skill in the
industry is the ability to develop a diverse
network spanning experience levels. The ability to
build relationships and be memorable to various
stakeholders and decision makers goes a long way,
from sourcing an opportunity, to closing an
investment, to recruiting management teams.
Marrying this skill with the ability to bring an
organized approach and discipline to block and
tackle the most important initiatives is
invaluable. Summit Park is very focused on the
emotional intelligence of its leaders, and I think
one's emotional quotient plays a pivotal role in
Q: Why is it important for more women to pursue
careers in PE?
One thing I love about PE is the variety of careers
it creates. I think it is important to have more
women, and more diversity of backgrounds and
experiences in general, across roles internally at
PE firms as well as in the C-suite leadership and
on the boards of directors at portfolio companies.
Summit Park recently hired our first female CEO,
which is very exciting. My hope is that women
continue to pursue these jobs and, more
importantly, know about these jobs. I think it
relates back to the network effect and ensuring
that women are included in the right networks and
know how to set themselves up for consideration and
To contact Hannon, email