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 Jessica Hudson
As a vice president of HealthEdge Investment Partners, Jessica Hudson is responsible for new deal activity, portfolio management and investor relations. Prior to joining the firm, Hudson served as a consultant for a Connecticut-based private equity firm, executing an industry roll-up strategy for a portfolio company in the medical stop-loss insurance space. In that role, she was responsible for deal origination, financial and operational due diligence, strategic planning and business integration. She also has held positions with Deloitte and Raymond James.
Hudson graduated with honors from the University of Miami, where she earned a BBA in accounting and an MS in taxation.
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?
Jessica Hudson: It’s exciting to see how an increased focus on women’s participation in the industry has created a groundswell of opportunities and support. PE is a highly desirable but somewhat opaque career path. I didn’t have visibility into it when I was in school and was exposed to it as a career option only after I had graduated and started working in public accounting. As more women get involved in PE and increasingly take senior leadership positions in their firms, it forges the path forward for younger women in school and early in their careers to know that this is an option for them too.
I think all the work that’s being done to increase opportunities for women in PE is going to be one of the hallmarks of our generation. Women have an affinity for lifting each other up. It’s all coming together to drive greater diversity and inclusion, which in turn leads to better decision making.
Q: Why is it important for more women to pursue careers in PE?
JH: When you have a broader set of perspectives and experiences sitting around the board table, you get more robust discussion and debate, better ideas and, ultimately, improved outcomes. That’s why it’s so important for more women to pursue careers in PE, and I’m particularly excited to see more women taking on roles as investment professionals.
Beyond just getting women into the field, another important thing to think about is how to keep them there. Many women, across all industries, reach senior positions only to eventually leave the workforce to start families and be more present in the home. Creating situations with more flexibility, where women don’t have to choose between career and family, will help companies retain this important talent source.
The heightened pandemic-era pressures women are under to manage competing demands at work and at home have only exacerbated the issue. The data on women leaving the workforce is quite shocking. Many sectors are experiencing labor shortages — it’s one of the key challenges facing our portfolio companies right now — yet millions of women are continuing to stay home. The good news is that with awareness comes the ability to act. With its significant reach, PE can be a juggernaut when it comes to positively impacting this issue — by being purposeful in how we choose to invest, like backing female founders, and emphasizing best practices across our portfolio companies to help champion the cause.
Q: Why is it important for more women to pursue entrepreneurship?
JH: It is important for more women to pursue entrepreneurship for several reasons: so more women can enjoy the benefits of entrepreneurship, of which there are many, and so the economy and society, broadly speaking, can benefit from more female founders and the unique ideas, perspectives and innovation they bring to the market, be it a differentiated product, service or approach.
Entrepreneurship is largely passion-driven and therefore highly fulfilling. Entrepreneurs have a great degree of autonomy and flexibility. They don’t have to rely on promotion to become leaders as they otherwise would in a corporate setting, and they often have the opportunity to make more money, too. Encouraging women to pursue entrepreneurship is another way to keep more women in the workforce, and, as a PE investor, it’s exciting to be able to support them in their pursuits.
Q: What is a lesson you have learned concerning what’s required for success in PE?
JH: I’ve found that the most successful PE professionals have a predisposition toward leadership, are detail-oriented and have a bias to action. I can’t emphasize enough that it’s all about people. In my role, I work with many stakeholders: fellow investment team members, operating partners, portfolio company management teams and advisers. It’s a team game, and success takes collaboration. That means being able to adeptly navigate the dynamics of leading a team, and also learning what it means to be a good team member, are a must. These are qualities for which women — who tend to outperform men when it comes to emotional intelligence and soft skills like effective communication, empathy, adaptability and conflict management — are particularly well positioned.
To contact Jessica Hudson, email [email protected].