There has never been a better time for women to enter the finance industry,” declares Jeri Harman, CEO and managing partner of Avante Mezzanine Partners.

Harman should know. With over 30 years of industry experience and more than $1 billion worth of deals to her credit, in 2013, she was inducted into the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Los Angeles hall of fame.

Avante, a middle-market lending firm with over $465 million of capital under management, makes debt and minority equity investments to help finance middle-market deals. The Los Angeles-based firm invests between $5 million to 25 million in companies that generate at least $3 million in Ebitda.

But Avante is not Harman’s first round-up in LA’s M&A market. She previously started the Los Angeles offices for two publicly traded private equity and mezzanine investment funds: American Capital and more recently, Allied Capital.

Given here background, Harman speaks with authority when she says, “There continues to be a vast under representation of women, especially senior women, in deal facing roles in private equity.” But she also allows that “more and more private equity firms are looking to recruit women,” making it a particularly opportune time for women to launch careers in M&A.

Co-chair of the ACG Los Angeles Business Conference, past chair of Small Business Investor Alliance (SBIA), Ernst & Young’s Greater Los Angeles Entrepreneur of the Year, Harman is also a member of the steering committee for the Private Equity Women Investor Network (PEWIN). She received a B.S. in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her in MBA in finance from the University of California, Berkeley’s Walter A. Haas School of Business.