The interview below is part of a new, yearlong effort by McGuireWoods to profile up-and-coming women leaders in private equity. To read previous profiles, click here. To recommend a rising star for a future interview, email Amber Walsh at [email protected].BelHealth Investment Partners
Q: What both attracted you to PE but potentially concerned you about this chosen career path?
Rebecca Yu: I entered PE after business school and saw the industry as a way to leverage both my analytical and interpersonal skills. The accountability for investments and longevity of partnerships with our management teams also appealed to me.
While not directly a concern, I was aware that the makings of a junior person in PE were different from those of a midlevel, which were yet again different from those of a senior partner. Given the growth trajectory of an investment professional, it could be many years for anyone, including myself, to understand whether PE is just a job or a longer-term career path. Because of that, I’ve made a point to take time out of my day to day to make sure that I’m not only doing the job but also investing in my personal development.
Q: What is a lesson you have learned concerning what’s required for success in PE?
RY: Tenacity and resilience have both been valuable to me. I started my career on a trading desk, where there was a clearly defined profit and loss that marked success or failure. In some ways, private equity is a stark contrast, as the life cycle of an investment from deal sourcing to exit is often over a much longer, 3-7+ year time horizon. Because of that, I have learned to value the importance of every small encounter from an initial email or meeting, as all decisions build toward the long-term future. Over the years, I’ve also learned the importance of resilience and being able to bounce back from the initial hurdles, as you never know what lies around the corner.
Q: Why is it important for more women to pursue careers in PE?
RY: First of all, I am a strong believer in providing equal opportunities for both women and men to contribute to the workforce, whether it’s in the finance industry, as entrepreneurs or otherwise. Even though we are 50 percent of the general population, within the PE industry, women account for under 20 percent of all deal professionals. That’s only 20 percent of deal professionals representing half the population that drives healthcare usage, consumer spending patterns and business decisions, all of which factor into investment decisions. Who else, other than women themselves, is better suited to understand women?
Q: What is a goal you have set for yourself this year?
RY: Be creative. While PE is an industry that often relies on comparables and benchmarks when it comes to deal sourcing, structuring and ongoing portfolio management, I believe that what differentiates a good investor from a great one is being able to learn and rely on the precedents and innovate on them to create more win-win scenarios for both investors and entrepreneurs alike. A personal goal I have this year is to be more thoughtful about the investments and partnerships I pursue to get something done outside of the box.
To contact Yu, email [email protected].
On deck for later this month is an interview with industry leader Kallie Hapgood of Gridiron Capital.