Mary Josephs, founder and CEO, Verit Advisors, 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 fell in love with transaction work early in my career. For me, a personal and professional passion has always been the distinct interplay and creative balance of strategies to achieve each business owner’s unique financial and psychological objectives.

How has a mentor helped your career?

Hill Hammock, CEO of Chicago’s Cook County Hospital and a former executive at ABN/AMRO, because he advances talented women and provides opportunity and mentoring for us to develop and grow continuously as leaders and professionals.

What is your current role?

My days are always exhilarating as Verit Advisors’ founder and CEO, primarily because I oversee talent identification and development, client identification and development, exceptional execution, strategy, operations, culture and fun. I am proudest when seeing our client-centric values and teamwork culture steadily influence a quality, high-integrity approach to middle market banking.

Describe your influence on the middle market?

We enjoy being at the forefront of industry thought leadership. One current trend is professional service companies that are abandoning legacy partnership structures in favor of an employee ownership model. We view this migration, both mathematically and qualitatively, as a win-win for both the transitioning and new partners, as well as the company’s growth and culture. We believe more fast-growing, high-quality companies, such as Aarete and MorganFranklin Consulting, both transactions we led, will embrace this model.

Describe a challenge you overcame?

I’m passionate about privately held businesses, especially multi-generational family businesses, viewing them as the fabric of America. My major challenge in launching Verit Advisors in 2009 was determining how to develop a client-centric, team-driven, relationship-oriented culture in middle market investment banking to support the work and dreams of these business owners. Fortunately, I reached out to mentors and, with like-minded professionals, founded Verit to focus on a thoughtful approach to helping business owners reach their objectives.

How do you support women?

I’m fortunate to be part of The Chicago Network, a group of executive women committed to identifying and providing mentorship for future leaders. Our annual Women At The Forefront luncheon and Launchpad Series exemplify that mission. I am also active in the women’s group for ACG, which has created outreach and programming for women professionals; serve on several private company boards, often as the first woman member; and offer insights to women and businesses privately.

What is your advice for women?

Many people didn’t think I could succeed as both the mother of five and the CEO of a fast-growing investment bank. My advice: Don’t let others define what you can and can’t do. Your professional and personal passions are not mutually exclusive, unless you make them so. Be yourself. Seek both sponsors and mentors. Network to find someone outside your organization to brainstorm conversations you may need to have inside your organization.

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

Deals run fast and often intensely. As a counter balance, I love spending relaxed time with my friends, husband, five kids and 41 nieces and nephews. I am an avid runner and skier and enjoy spending family time in the mountains. I’m working on regaining my French fluency as my eldest recently married his longtime French girlfriend in France.

What other career path might you have chosen?

It’s interesting how I’ve learned more about myself through each career experience, from my first job at Continental Illinois National Bank, through my Education at University of Chicago’s Booth Business School, and including launching my own investment bank in 2009. My current career complements me so well. I feel truly blessed to have navigated towards a profession that continuously provides invitations for personal and professional growth. Further, my ability to make a difference is deeply rewarding. My advice to women is to always be learning and questioning. With authenticity to yourself you will navigate to a richly rewarding place for yourself.