Justine Mannering, managing director, Stifel, is one of 36 dealmakers named in Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2019 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. Click here for the full list. This year, we asked the dealmakers to tell their stories in their own voices through Q&As.
How did you get into dealmaking?
I was working as an audit supervisor in public practice in London in FIG and was auditing PE groups. I got to know one of my repeat clients well and they could see some of my frustrations with my role at the time and encouraged me to consider moving into middle market banking / PE. A couple of the partners recommended me to several leading middle market banks and I was lucky to get a junior associate role. I didn’t even really know what investment banking was but am thankful that I was encouraged to try. This was my first experience of the power of personal networks in the middle market.
How has a mentor helped your career?
I have been very lucky throughout my career to have not just mentors but sponsors. I was particularly lucky to work with Euan Rellie who was a mentor and a sponsor at BDA Partners (where I was from 2011 – 2017). Euan is a successful banker who co-founded BDA Partners in his late twenties and is still actively involved in deals for the firm. Euan not only encouraged me to take leadership and senior roles earlier than I might naturally looked for them, but also supported me fully in these roles and on championing internal initiatives where he knew I really believed in their success. His constant support, guidance and belief in my abilities allowed be to really find my voice and the confidence to grow into the roles I took on. I only hope that I can have half that impact on others careers in the future.
What is your current role?
I’m the Managing Director responsible for sector coverage within Apparel, Accessories, Footwear and Luxury sector for Stifel’s Consumer Investment Banking team. As an industry sector expert, I’m responsible for identifying opportunities, developing relationships in the sector, winning mandates and executing transactions. As a growing team and firm, we also focus on building awareness of our brand externally. I also mentoring and developing junior team members; and I’m actively involved and committed to our woman’s initiatives within our institutional group.
Describe your influence on the middle market.
Within my area of expertise in the Consumer sector (Personal Care and Apparel & Accessories) I have worked to establish my credentials as an expert in the sector. I am often quoted in the sector media (e.g. WWD, Business of Fashion, Sourcing Journal) and participate in industry panels and events (eg. ACG Consumer & Retail conference panel, Beauty & Money Spotlight Selection panel). These give me the opportunity to contribute both content and expertise to our clients, sector and middle market industry participants. In addition, I am actively involved with a number of influential middle market networking and development organizations including ACG (Chair of International Committee 2017, and Westchester Board Member 2013 – 2016), M&A Advisor (member of the Outlook Task Force 2018) and Exponent Women (Founding Member, 2017 – current). I am regularly asked to join panels in regard to cross-border M&A and M&A trends in New York. These networks have supported my success and I believe in working to help others achieve their success .
Describe a recent deal.
We are increasingly seeing consumer brands growing quickly and in particular internationalizing at an accelerating rate with advance of technology and social media. This is reflected in trends in deal making where we see significant growth in cross-border transactions and global interest in strong, growing brands. Cross-border deals come with unique challenges and need more creative processes and positioning. Investment banks, bankers and investors are having to adapt quickly to these requirements. I have been lucky to work on a number of these cross-border transactions across the world. Deals I have recently been involved in are reflective of this globalization and cross-border deal activity in the middle market include the sale of Erno Lazslo (US) to CITIC Capital (China), the sale of Harrys of London (UK) to Charles Cohen (US), the sale of Happy Socks (Sweden) to Palamon (UK) and the sale of Graphic Controls (US) to Nisshua (Japan).
Describe a challenge you overcame.
I grew up in South Africa, and spent most of my early banking career in the UK, so when I moved to New York in 2011 I had a very limited personal or professional network in middle market banking in New York. As a Director I was expected to not only execute but also to bring in new banking mandates which was both overwhelming and a real challenge with limited relationships. I recognized that it was important to not only develop my understanding of the sectors I covered and the participants but also that I needed to build a professional network to succeed. I joined a number of middle market and sector focused networking groups and started to attend events. I not only attended events but also made sure to participate in panels, contribute to media and actively follow up with new contacts. It has taken some time but I now have a strong network of professionals and, in many cases, friends across NY and the US who have been invaluable as I have grown my business and franchise in the US. This experience and learning was one of the reasons I wanted to get involved in founding Exponent Women and remain active to give back to the networks which I benefited from.
How do you support women?
I am a strong believer that women bring areal value to the finance sector and that there has been significant change to enable more women to stay in and succeed in finance. I also believe that women need to support and empower each other to achieve this. I am a founding member and active participant in Exponent Women, a NY based networking organization focused on helping woman in the middle market to build their professional and personal networks to support each other established in 2017. I am also actively involved in our internal initiatives within Stifel to support woman within our firm to get the support they would like and need to build their careers. Finally, I have been lucky to have had strong mentors myself, and try to make sure to give time to mentor many of the promising women I have worked / work with as they develop their careers.
What is your advice for women?
Working hard, being technically good and have expertise in your area are crucial and are important – but not enough to be successful long term. Women so often fall into the trap of expecting to be rewarded and promoted for working harder. As you develop through your career you need to find your own way to build relationships and connect with people and to develop your profile both internally and externally. There is no road map and its not easy – so find what you love to do, connect with the people who can help you and you can help, don’t be scared to speak up and really go after your goals.
When you’re not making deals, what is your favorite thing to do?
I have two very active boys who keep me and my husband very busy outside of work but when I do get the time I love to cook and travel with my family.