Who are the most powerful female dealmakers in the middle market? And how did they get to where they are today? To help Mergers & Acquisitions choose The 25 Most Influential Women of Mid-Market M&A, go to our Call for Nominations and fill out our online forms by Mon. Sept. 14.
Scheduled for the January 2016 issue, Mergers & Acquisitions’ special report will highlight leading female transaction professionals in all aspects of the middle market. We're seeking the best and the brightest dealmakers, including: corporate dealmakers, private equity investors, investment bankers, lenders, attorneys and other advisers. And we’ll be considering both experienced veterans and rising stars.
“Women have made strides in the financial services sector but they are still woefully underrepresented,” says Mary Kathleen Flynn, editor-in-chief of Mergers & Acquisitions. “The lack of other women, especially in the upper ranks, leads to a lot of professional loneliness. Dealmaking is all about forging relationships, so feeling comfortable in the community is essential.”
Over the last several years, the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) has developed programming designed to increase the participation of female members. Today roughly one-third of the organization’s chapters host women’s events. For example, ACG New York’s Women of Leadership, which was founded by Accordion Partners’ Michelle Van Hellemont, hosts several events throughout the year, including an annual January summit that features panels of experienced female dealmakers. One featured speaker was Molly Ashby, founder of Solera Capital LLC, backer of organic packaged-food maker Annie's Inc., which General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) bought in 2014.
Mergers & Acquisitions is launching the special report at a time when the financial services industry is under scrutiny for its treatment of women, due, in part, to Ellen Pao’s unsuccessful but high-profile gender discrimination suit against former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. “Pao’s case serves to remind venture capital and private equity firms alike that it’s time for a cultural sea-change,” says Flynn.
Gretchen Perkins (pictured above), a partner at Huron Capital Partners, serves as a great example of female leadership in the middle market. Perkins won Mergers & Acquisitions’ M&A Mid-Market Award for 2014 Dealmaker of the Year. By originating most of the deals closed by Huron in 2014, Perkins excelled in an era of increased competition among private equity firms. As the PE asset class has matured over three decades, deal sourcing has become more important than ever, and Perkins' ubiquitous coverage of the lower middle-market landscape over her seven-year tenure at the firm has made her a rising star throughout the industry.
Pam Hendrickson (pictured, left), the chief operating officer of PE firm The Riverside Co., offers another good example. Hendrickson served as chair of ACG and testified on Capitol Hill about the impact of the middle market on the U.S. economy.
Flynn says, “By featuring powerful women, such as Perkins and Hendrickson, we hope to foster a sense of community and inspire the next generation."