The interview below is part of an ongoing 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 [email protected].
About Samantha Gordon Webb
Samantha Gordon Webb is director of the Portfolio Transformation Group (PTG) for Revelstoke Capital Partners. Prior to joining Revelstoke, she was a principal at Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a top management consulting firm working with leading organizations globally. From 2013 to 2019, Gordon Webb was part of BCG’s Payer, Provider and Services Group, where she advised a range of for-profit, regional and community health systems, academic medical centers and pediatric hospitals on strategic, operational and merger and acquisition issues. She started her BCG career in New York, then moved in 2016 to start BCG’s Denver office. Gordon Webb was also involved in leading the office’s recruiting, career development and women’s initiative efforts.
Prior to BCG, Gordon Webb was an associate in the Healthcare Group of the investment bank at Credit Suisse in New York, where she worked across all subsectors of healthcare on IPO and private placements. She started her career in management consulting from 2007–2010 at Booz & Co., the strategy consulting arm of Booz Allen and Hamilton, where she also advised many regional and national payer and provider organizations on strategy and operational engagements.
Gordon Webb graduated from the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University with a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering. She also holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
Q: Why is it important for more women to pursue careers in PE?
Samantha Gordon Webb: Recruiting women into PE is a challenge similar to what I experienced in leading firmwide recruiting initiatives in my prior management consulting career. It is often difficult for the junior women to see a path to a successful senior leadership role in these types of career paths while maintaining other personal and family aspirations they would like to pursue for themselves. In PE, I believe it is essential for the senior women in the industry to continue painting clear paths demonstrating the ability to have rigorous and successful careers in this sector — whether on the investing side or on the operational side — while still being able to raise a family or pursue other personal goals outside the office. The more tangible proof points we can put out there as women in PE will, I hope, continue to tip the scale toward more balanced representation across the sector and catalyze more interest in women early in their careers looking to pursue investing or operating opportunities.
At Revelstoke, we invest in the provider sector of healthcare, which tends to have a higher-than-average presence of women in these types of healthcare organizations. Having more women representation within the sponsor can help achieve more effective buy-in on initiatives that we ultimately are driving from the sponsor back into the company, highlighting the importance of ongoing diversity efforts in our recruiting. Investors are also wanting to see ESG (environmental, social and governance) and diversity as a meaningful strategy and capability within PE firms, reinforcing the need for more women across the industry.
Q: Who is an example of someone who inspired you in PE and why?
SGW: I always had an interest in financial services and PE but was ultimately never as passionate about driving the investing side, compared to the years I spent focused on operations and strategy as a management consultant for most of my career. However, around the time I met my husband, he had partnered with an investor to invest in a small, rapidly growing physician practice management organization, where he led as an executive in that organization for several years. This direct line of sight into the operating side of PE, and the latitude to continuously invest and build, was really exciting to me and opened my eyes to operations within PE. For years, I was able to see my husband build and scale his healthcare business into multiple regions, as well as increase the size of the company significantly, by tackling new growth and operational problems each and every day, which was very intriguing to me as I thought about new career opportunities.
This experience was a key motivation for me to leave a career in management consulting and explore operational roles in a privately sponsored company or within a PE firm. Luckily, my timing and interests aligned almost perfectly upon meeting Revelstoke, and I joined the firm to launch and lead what is now called the Portfolio Transformation Group (PTG). PTG is the value-creation team focused on the operational, strategic, human capital and overall infrastructure-related needs for our portfolio companies. I get to take what I loved from consulting in helping businesses grow and mature and do this within the PE model as well as have a unique entrepreneurial experience with Revelstoke. It has been a truly rewarding experience.
Q: How do you believe women of your generation will be able to influence the PE industry, particularly as the career path continues to evolve?
SGW: There are many more career paths within PE today that have not been the tradition paths of career progression for the industry, whether it’s through value-creation teams like the one I lead for Revelstoke or other niche aspects around operations or human capital. This introduces several opportunities for women to enter the industry through nontraditional paths, which will allow us to continue shaping the industry and how firms interact with their portfolio companies.
Driving diversity and pushing women at a greater frequency into leadership roles, like at PE firms, are much more top of mind in how we select our own career paths and is something we need to continue to ensure takes root. Overall, we can start to be more creative in the ways to recruit and retain women, and ultimately help our respective firms define what it means to be an employer of choice for women.
Q: What is a lesson that you have learned concerning what’s required for success in PE?
SGW: While this is the vantage point from which I sit at Revelstoke, having compelling and well-thought-out strategic and operating plans for an investment is critical. Then, you need the right leadership and skill sets in place to execute effectively upon those plans. This is particularly highlighted in small to medium-sized companies as well as those that are founder/entrepreneur-led, where the business process operations have not scaled at the same pace as the company has grown prior to being taken private. While it can be overwhelming and a leap of faith for an entrepreneur or CEO to invest in expensive C-suite talent or outside support to rapidly develop and implement operating plans and tactics, the return on those investments is clearly realized in the long run.
Similar to the group I started at Revelstoke, small to mid-market PE is starting to stand up similar groups focused on the operational side of PE with the goal of driving better value-creation opportunities. This will only go so far without ensuring you have a strong leadership team and the supporting bench strength in the organization to truly own and execute these initiatives and changes.
To contact Samantha Gordon Webb, email [email protected].