Venita Fields, partner, Pelham S2K Managers, 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 first got into deal making as a senior lender in Citibank’s Leveraged Finance Group in the mid-late eighties. Our group initially funded boot-strap (asset based) buyouts but quickly transitioned to structured finance lending as the LBO market accelerated.
How has a mentor helped your career?
My first mentors were my managers at Citibank, Mr. Sanford Wax and William Kennedy. They had confidence in my ability and allowed me to manage people at an early stage in my career. They delegated quite a bit of authority to me. There were no others who looked like me in the organization, yet they afforded me the same opportunities as my male piers.
What is your current role?
I am a partner at Pelham S2K Managers LLC , an SBIC fund making mid-market debt investment throughout the United States. I manage the firm’s presence in the Midwest Market as well as evalutate and fund potential invesment opportunites. I am one of four partners on the Investment Committee responsible for deal selection and approval. A typical day consists of reviewing investment opportunities as well as marketing the firm’s capabiilites to the IB and PE community in the Midwest. This is my fourth Limited Partnership, and in the prior three, I helped lead, manage and direct debt and equity investments in 38 portfolio companies.
Describe your influence on the middle market?
For the last 7 years, I have served on the board of the ACG Chicago Chapter, with the last 6 as a member of the Executive Committee. For the last 2 years, I have served as Board President. During my time on the board, I have worked with other women board leaders to successfully engage and increase female membership, especially women of color through the Chapter’s Women’s Network. The board has promoted diversity in its programming making sure our panelists include women and persons of color. Lastly, as President, I led the board’s successful hire of the Chapter’s first female CEO, Ms. Kimberly Hammond, who assumed that role on November 1st, 2018.
Describe a recent deal.
We recently funded an investment in a home health care company that provides skilled nursing, physical, occupational and speech therapy , home aid, palliaitive care and hospice care. The Company serves as a bridge for patients between the hospital and home, after they have been dischared from hospitals and specialty medical centers. We believe Home Health Care provides a cost effective alternative to facility based care due to demographic shifts and the rising rates of chronic illnesses.
Describe a challenge your overcame.
When I worked in more traditional banking institutions there were always obstacles, primarily related to equal promotional opportunities. To overcome those obstacles in addition to performing well, I always managed up (above my manager and hia/her manager). Positive visibilty at higher levels always provided “cover” when I needed it most. As a result I was able to achieve the rank of Senior Vice President during my banking career.
How do you support women?
Over the years I have been a mentor to several women who now have successful careers in banking and private equity. I am also a frequent speaker and panelists to Women’s Finance Groups in the area on leadership.
What is your advice for women?
I advise younger women to always think strategically about their careers. Go to work with a purpose. Give your best effort but also make sure that the job gives you its best (best training, best opportunities).
When you’re not making deals, what is your favorite thing to do?
Volunteer, I like being of service to others. I have a particular interest in music education for children and organizations that help support women and children. I take leadership roles in whatever I do. I can’t help it. I like being busy and giving back.
What other career path might you have chosen?
I would probably be in the not-for profit world. My dream job would be the Head of a Charitable Foundation where I could provide financial support for women and children.