During more than 30 years of lending and raising capital, Robin Engelson has participated in more than $12 billion in transactions.

The founder and managing partner of the Sapphire Financial Group, Engelson is currently working on capital raises of $50 million to $300 million for middle-market companies in various industries.

Engelson founded Minneapolis-based Sapphire in 2003. She has also served as a managing director and head of private placements for Lazard’s middle market advisory practice (NYSE:LAZ), a partner at middle-market investment bank Goldsmith Agio Helms and a senior vice president at GE Capital Corporate Finance.

Engelson attributes her success to “relentless advocacy for my clients.” She elaborates: “Every transaction is the most important transaction in the life of any client that I have. I hope they feel like it’s also the most important transaction in my life, because then I’m doing a really good job on their behalf.”

Currently in the capital markets, Engelson notes that the number of private, unregulated lenders like Sapphire is soaring, partly due to the void created by bank regulation. And that, she says, is a big positive for women seeking careers in M&A lending.

“There should be plenty of great opportunities as a result of [the surge in new lenders],” she says, “if you know where to look and understand the market.”

A past board member of Ameriprise Bank, Medica health insurance, the Minnesota State Board of Accountancy, two private equity fund advisory boards and various non-profit endowment and education boards, Engelson has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA.