The following series features interviews with Black dealmakers and trailblazers in the private equity and finance community. To help us spotlight professionals making a difference in their career pathways, please email Greg Kilpatrick at firstname.lastname@example.org and Gerald Thomas at email@example.com.
Q: What attracted you to PE?
Debo Adesina: I always wanted to be a dealmaking professional. I got into law school to do corporate law, and only corporate law, and after a few years of practice, I naturally fell in love with PE. I love the negotiation, creativity, flexibility and operational challenges of acquiring a business, scaling it and seeing it through a successful and profitable exit.
Q: Why is it important for more Black professionals to pursue careers in PE?
DA: Because our economic lives matter. PE is taking a larger share of the American enterprise system, and the livelihoods of Americans of all races and colors are affected by decisions made by an investment committee — perhaps even more than management.
Q: What do diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you and why are they important?
DA: A proper and more balanced reflection of the world we live in now. It's like voting and elections. The more people vote and participate in the decision-making process, the more those decisions should reflect the people's interests.
Q: Why do you actively support providing capital to Black entrepreneurs?
DA: Economic freedom and upward mobility. African Americans, for a brief moment, were slowly moving up the entrepreneurial ladder with very little help. We need to get that back somehow. We no doubt have the numbers and skills, but not enough access to capital.
Q: What is your approach to understanding the perspectives of colleagues from different backgrounds?
DA: We have the same hopes, fears, aspirations and challenges as everyone else. We may look or talk different, but so what? The less we dwell on these small differences, the better off we will all be.
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Black entrepreneurs? What advice would you provide to overcome it?
DA: The same challenge anyone faces: fear. Don't be afraid to take some risks and possibly fail. It doesn't matter how you start; it matters more how and where you end up.
Q: Who is an example of someone who inspired you in PE and why?
DA: Not someone or anyone, but something. I wanted to own and build something successful as part of a team. That was it.
Q: How do you believe Black professionals will be able to influence the PE industry?
DA: Get in where you can and come just as you are. A business is no more than an enterprise of people pursuing an economic vision. We all have something to add if we just get the chance.
Q: What is a goal that you have set for yourself in the coming year?
DA: I just want to build successful healthcare businesses each and every year — one portfolio at a time.
About Debo Adesina
Debo Adesina is a partner with Albaron Partners, a New York-based, healthcare-focused private equity firm that invests in and grows specialty physician practice groups and microcap healthcare businesses. His portfolio company involvement includes serving as executive vice president and chief legal officer of Great Lakes Foot & Ankle Institute, Innovation Fertility and their related entities.
Prior to joining Albaron, Debo spent more than five years in accounting and finance and 10 years as a corporate attorney. He was a senior counsel at McGuireWoods LLP, having previously worked at DLA Piper and Akin Gump. Debo also worked at Houlihan Lokey, Deloitte and PwC. He has represented middle market PE funds and strategics with combined deal value in excess of $10 billion.
Debo earned his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and an undergraduate degree in accounting and finance from Purdue University. He enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, reading, traveling and the outdoors. Debo is an active member of an investment club focused on economic and social impact investing in developing countries.
To contact Debo Adesina, email firstname.lastname@example.org.