Mergers & Acquisitions is proud to present our third annual honor roll of The Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. In the view of their colleagues who nominated them, and our editors who researched their accomplishments, the 35 women profiled here represent the women dealmakers with the strongest track records, the biggest footprints and the most promising futures in middle-market finance.

Sarah Bradley, who graces our cover, is a case in point. The co-founder of Dallas-based Kainos Capital, Bradley has over 20 years of investment banking and private equity experience in the food and consumer sectors. A veteran of HM Capital, Investcorp and Deutsche Bank, in 2012 Bradley started Kainos with two other partners. That same year, the fledgling firm raised $420 million for its first fund, and then followed up with another $895 million for its second fund in 2016. Major deals have included Kettle Cuisine’s purchase of soup distributor Del Monaco Foods, and investments in Slim-Fast, Sturm Foods Inc. and Ghirardelli Chocolate.

But as important as the accomplishments by Bradley and the other women featured here are, why do we feel it’s important to single out and celebrate women dealmakers in particular?

Well, Americans love an underdog, and with women accounting for only 11 percent of senior private equity professionals, they certainly have been underdogs in middle-market M&A! So, recognizing and cheering on their successes certainly has merit on its own.

Beyond that, though, it is now widely acknowledged that private equity firms with a strong track record of fostering diversity and encouraging women’s participation in the industry have a competitive advantage.

That’s stated succinctly by Carolyn Galiette, president and chief investment officer of Ironwood Capital in Avon, Connecticut, when she says: “We think that if we have different perspectives on businesses and the way in which we accomplish things, then we’re going to produce a better product than if everybody followed the same path.”

Another member of our honor roll, Pam Hendrickson, Chief Operating Officer and Vice Chairman of New York-based The Riverside Co., drives the point home. “There’s an awful lot of evidence out there that diverse perspectives make better investment decisions,” she says. “But it’s not just women. It’s other minorities as well. Bringing those types of perspectives to a discussion around investments is really important, and you will absolutely make better decisions.”

To better investment decisions then. Here are 35 women whose influence is felt throughout the middle market.

Sarah Bradley-Most Influential Women in M&A
Matt Greenslade/photo-nyc.com

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Elliot M. Kass

Elliot M. Kass

Interim Editor-in-Chief, Mergers & Acquisitions