Susan Beth, chief operating officer, NRD Capital, 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 has a mentor helped your career?
Fred DeLuca, the Founder of Subway. Years ago, Fred asked me what I loved to do and I said, “I love that moment when I’m on stage, look out and see that something I said made a difference to someone.” He said, “Then why don’t you go do that?” Ultimately, he challenged me to start my own professional speaking business and mentored me through the whole start-up process. My first official professional speaking gig was at the Subway worldwide convention.
What is your current role?
Like many in fund management would probably say, there is no typical day and that’s what I love! My current role is to be the hub of the wheel. I am involved with deal sourcing and deal negotiating, post-close integration, Board service, adding value to our portfolio companies, building and managing the NRD team as well as helping to add key players to our port co’s, as needed. I also am engaged with fundraising and exit strategy planning. I hope the team I work with would tell you that I lead from the front. I know I’m doing my job as a leader when I am challenging them and supporting them to be better than they ever thought they could be.
Describe your influence on the middle market.
I have only been in the private equity world for 4 years. In my previous life, I was an operator. I hope I still would be considered one! I think the most meaningful impact I might have on the middle market is through my interaction with our portfolio companies and the teams at all levels. At the end of the day, the people on the front lines of the businesses we invest in are the ones we are relying on to execute on our investment thesis. I hope I have made an impact by trying to never lose sight of that fact.
Describe a recent deal.
I did not lead, but had significant input on our investment in Ruby Tuesday. That investment was a bold move for a small fund. Our whole team leaned in on making that deal come to fruition. I’m very proud of our collaboration to get it across the finish line. This was a significant deal because it was spotlight public to private transaction for a challenged brand in a challenged market segment (casual dining).
Describe a challenge you overcame.
I spent the first 37 ½ years of my life in a family business, and 14 years of my professional career. The decision to take a risk and leave the family business to help my colleague start NRD Capital was quite the challenge. At the end of the day, I knew I was being called to do more so I took the leap knowing I might fail, but being more afraid of not trying at all. I overcame this obstacle by bulldozing through the fear and endeavoring to treat everyone that my decision affected (namely my family) with respect and much appreciation for the journey we had enjoyed together.
How do you support women?
I do my best to accept speaking invitations for ACG and similar events. I try to make connections at women’s events like WAVE; but to be honest, my main contributions for career advancement for women still lie on the franchise side of the equation.
What is your advice for women?
I am never short on advice, so it often depends on what question they are asking me or what discussion we are having. I frequently get asked about being a working mom who travels a lot; career changes; moving to an entire new industry; how to thrive in male-dominated environments, etc. Regardless of the type of advice I’m giving, and whether to women or men, I often suggest they envision what Utopia would look like for them, and then work backwards from there.
When you’re not making deals, what is your favorite thing to do?
I’m an ice hockey mom to two boys so that’s quite fun. My kids play lots of sports and I really enjoy watching them play and be part of a team. I enjoy traveling with my family, and I am blessed to be surrounded by an amazing tribe of friends who keep me going so I LOVE to spend time with them!
What other career path might you have chosen?
I had started three businesses by the time I was 35 so I’d probably be trying to find a void that needs filling and then building a business to service that need. I look at NRD Capital as a zebra in a field full of thoroughbreds, and I really like these stripes! But, if I couldn’t be at NRD for some reason, I would likely be trying to find some other way to stand out.