Kristina Heinze, co-founder, partner, ParkerGake, 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 always knew I wanted to go into “business” but wasn’t quite sure what that meant until I was a junior in undergrad and learned of investment banking and private equity from a finance class I was taking. Back then U of I didn’t have any courses specific to these industries, and the big I-banks didn’t come to recruit at the school. We had to take the initiative to find the analyst spots ourselves for the most part. Once I knew what M&A was, I was determined to start my career path toward private equity and at the time, that meant doing the two to three years in I-banking first to get the baseline skillset for private equity. I loved the idea of learning about new industries and new businesses, and meeting the founders/CEOs of these companies. One of the most rewarding things about private equity is the fact that you don’t do the same thing day after day—I get excited by the challenge of convincing founders to sell their business to me, convincing limited partners to invest with my team, and taking small businesses to the next level of success via expanding teams and creating jobs, building new products and solutions, and improving operations to make each dollar of revenue more profitable.

What is your current role?

I am a Partner and Co-Founder of ParkerGale Capital. In my current role, I am responsible for sourcing and monitoring our investments as well as helping to lead fundraising efforts with our limited partners. In addition, I head up our Leadership Development Program to help promote professional development and continue to build our unique culture with our growing team of both investment and operating professionals. The best thing about PE is there is no “typical day” – one day I may spend the entire time with the founder or management team of a potential new investment explaining why we are the best buyer and digging in on their operations and financials. Then, the next day I’m in a board meeting for a company we own hopefully providing some value creating advice to the management team on how to grow their sales team, build a marketing function from scratch, develop a product roadmap process, or improve talent management by implementing a consistent recruiting/hiring/onboarding process. It’s always different, and that makes it even more enjoyable.

Describe a recent deal.

The most recent deal I led this year was our acquisition of Rippe & Kingston, a leading financial and practice management software provider into law firms. Rippe was very similar to our other deals in that we were able to find a high-growth, profitable software business still owned and being run by the founder who had never taken on outside capital. This trend in our microcosm of the technology private equity market is one we see quite often – the founder has built and grown a really nice business with a terrific product-market fit, but hasn’t invested in sales and marketing, team or R&D and doesn’t necessarily have a succession plan in place either. We love these opportunities where we can show the founder why we can help provide liquidity for him/her while also providing a platform for growth for their team and employees who are like family to them. We’ve already hired a CEO, CFO, Director of Marketing, and three software engineers and consultants in the six months since closing at Rippe, and hope to have another handful of new hires in sales and client services by year end! This is what we do, and we love it.

How do you support women?

I sit on the Midwest Steering Committee for PEWIN and am involved with the organization in helping attract more women to private equity. I also make it a point to always take the time to meet with younger women who reach out to me asking for advice while in business school or in investment banking. It’s easy to get caught up in the hectic life we live with weekly travel and long hours and to put off those requests to grab coffee or lunch, but we need to help each other because women have so much to offer the financial services industry. We have three women on our team at ParkerGale in addition to myself, and I am proud that we have been able to attract and retain the best talent, both women and men.

What is your advice for women?

I wouldn’t give women different advice than men necessarily because I think the attributes and qualities that will ultimately lead to success in this industry are the same regardless of gender. Having said that, I would say that women should absolutely seriously consider a career in PE and hopefully not get scared away because of the lack of women in the industry currently. I think it’s an excellent career with so many opportunities and wouldn’t change a thing even if I had the chance to start over. If you want to be a part of it and believe it’s a good fit for you, my advice is to go out and make it happen because you, as a woman, have a unique perspective to bring to the table when evaluating a new investment, working with management teams, etc.

When you’re not making deals, what is your favorite thing to do?

If you would have asked that question ten years ago (maybe even five years ago), I would have said I don’t do much outside of “work” because this was my primary focus. Thankfully I’ve become wiser in my old age (haha), and I understand the importance of a balanced life to be the best me I can be. When I’m not doing deals, I try to spend every extra minute with my kiddos and husband. I have a five year old daughter and four year old son who are truly the light of my life. It doesn’t even matter what we are doing, we can just watch a family movie together, read books and we love taking family vacations. These moments spent with them help re-charge me for being a better partner at ParkerGale and with my portfolio company management teams.