The interview below is part of an ongoing effort by McGuireWoods to profile women leaders in private equity (PE). To read previous profiles, click here. To recommend a woman for a future interview, email Amber Walsh at [email protected].
Julia Senior is a partner at M/C Partners where she leads origination, deal diligence and portfolio company support for investments in a variety of communications and technology services segments. She currently serves on the boards of Carbon60, DAS42 and SoniqWave, serves as a board observer for Involta and provides portfolio coverage for Omega Wireless and Canopy Spectrum.
Prior to joining M/C Partners in 2016, Julia was an equity research analyst on the telecommunications team at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (now BofA Securities), where she covered companies in the wireline, wireless, data center and tower industries. Julia is a CFA charter holder and received a bachelor’s in economics from Harvard College and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Q: What attracted you to PE?
Julia Senior: There are many kinds of investing that I could have been interested in, but ultimately, I wanted to build a career around relationships and working with people. At M/C Partners, we typically invest in earlier-stage companies, where capital and partnership can make a big difference in the trajectory of a business. The opportunity to work closely with entrepreneurs and help them think through their highest-priority strategic decisions is a privilege, and to me, the most exciting part of being a PE investor.
In addition, this job requires you to wear a lot of hats — adviser, connector, problem solver — and I wanted to be in a role that would push me across many different dimensions. As a PE investor, you must get granular into the details of things like financial statements and unit economics while also thinking big picture about industry trends and competition, being able to structure and execute transactions and building relationships with numerous stakeholders. This variety provides a consistent challenge and opportunity to learn.
Q: Why is it important for more women to pursue careers in PE?
JS: This is a very meta question. There is a lot of data showing that having diversity of all kinds — including gender — around a board table leads to better-informed decisions and ultimately more successful outcomes. There is also a lot of data showing how homogeneous individuals’ networks tend to be. Put simply, women know women. So, if you think there are great female entrepreneurs out there — which I do — having female investors should help you identify and connect with that talent. I find the data on these topics compelling, and it resonates with my own experiences.
But my strongest reaction to this question isn’t meta, it’s micro. Having more women pursue careers in PE is good for those women who pursue careers in PE. This is a fun and challenging job that can be rewarding on many levels. Women are just as capable and qualified as men to succeed in PE, and I would love to see more women chase those opportunities.
Q: What is a goal that you have set for yourself in the coming year?
JS: Continue to add more diversity into my own network, specifically people that can go on to become co-workers, executives or board members. Like most people, I am guilty of having a fairly homogeneous-looking professional network. Since investors often fill management roles and board seats with people we know, we end up working with a lot of people who look the same or come from the same background. I feel very strongly that if we can bring greater diversity into our boardrooms and into our investment committee discussions, it will help our portfolio companies and our firm.
Q: What is a lesson that you have learned concerning what’s required for success in PE?
JS: It is more important to be adaptable and creative than exactly right. We are constantly trying to forecast things: how an industry will evolve, how a company can accelerate growth, how a management team will come together. As much as we want to trust our own analysis and take comfort in our detailed PowerPoints, it is rare that anything goes exactly how we drew it up. When things inevitably don’t go as expected, it’s critical to keep an open mind, adapt and change course as necessary.
To contact Julia Senior, email [email protected].