Mergers & Acquisitions' special report celebrates female professionals in investment banking, including Lincoln International managing director Janki Gandhi.
The challenges women face in achieving top-tier status in financial services are particularly acute in the middle market, where women account for approximately 14 percent of all dealmakers and account for only about 11 percent of senior private equity professionals
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.
“The finance world is known for its rigorous environment,” Gandhi notes, “and because of that, a lot of women have shied away. But I think more firms are starting to pay attention and figure out how to provide that work-life balance.”
Name: Christina Bresani
Years in M&A: 19
Current position: Head of financial services investment banking, William Blair
Key responsibilities: Sourcing, structuring and executing mergers and acquisitions involving high-profile public and private companies.
Significant deals: Chicago Board Options Exchange’s $3.4 billion acquisition of Bats Global Markets; TIAA’s $2.5 billion acquisition of EverBank Financial Corp, and First Horizon National Corp.’s acquisition of Capital Bank Financial Corp.
Education: B.A. from Wellesley College
Key to success: “Don’t talk yourself out of something before you even try!”
Name: Janki Gandhi
No. of years in M&A: 13
Current position: Managing Director, Lincoln International
Key responsibilities: Advises clients on mid-market M&A, leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations and valuations in the consumer sector
Previous: Managing Director, The Sage Group
Education: The Wharton School
Current take on market: “Retail has changed dramatically in the last 12 to 24 months with direct-to-consumer and online delivery.”
Name: Vennette Ho
No. of years in M&A: 13
Current Position: Managing Director, Financo Inc.
Key responsibilities: Heads the M&A practice for the beauty and personal care consumer segments
Previous: Equity Research Associate, Lazard; Executive Merchandising Program, Bloomingdales
Education: B.A. from Brown University, Masters in business management from Columbia University’s Business School
Mary Sullivan Josephs
Name: Mary Sullivan Josephs
No. of years in M&A: 34
Current position: Founder and CEO, Verit Advisors
Key responsibilities: Leads all firm endeavors; advises and structures ownership options for privately held middle-market companies
Previous: Launched a national ESOP Advisory practice for ABN AMRO LaSalle Corporate Finance and led the ESOP Solutions Group for all of Bank of America-Merrill Lynch
Important deals: Advised on and led sales and ESOP transactions at Symbria, a provider of pharmacy and physical therapy services to healthcare institutions; The LOGS Group, a national provider of law firm practice management solutions, and consulting firms The Northridge Group, Morgan Franklin and EYP
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Economics and French from Marquette University and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Awards, recognitions and affiliations: Board of Directors, Spinnaker Coating; lifetime member, Board of Governors of the ESOP Association; member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Association for Corporate Growth
Success secrets: “Nobody knows everything. The more you collaborate and bring out the talent in other people, the more effective you will be.”
Name: Janica Lane
No. of years in M&A: 12
Current Position: Managing Director, Consumer Investment Banking at Piper Jaffray
Key responsibilities: Leads investment banking for the food, beverage and nutritional supplement segments
Previous: Partner at boutique investment bank Partnership Capital Growth
Education: Undergraduate degree from Stanford University; MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business
Awards and recognitions: Received a Forbes Top 25 Consumer Catalyst Award in 2016, and named among Forbes’ Top 25 Most Influential “Kingmakers” in consumer and retail in 2013. Received two ACG British Columbia awards in 2017 for deals in which she served as a sell-side adviser.
Elizabeth Bloomer Nesvold
Name: Elizabeth Bloomer Nesvold
No. of Years in M&A: 25
Current position: Founder and Managing Partner, Silver Lane Advisors
Key responsibilities: Oversees all firm operations nationwide; leads business development efforts and transaction execution; sets company’s culture and long-term objectives
Significant deals: The sale of Avalon Advisors, a $4 billion investment manager, to The Carlyle Group; the sale of Stadion, a $7 billion managed ETF platform, to TA Associates; Evercore Partners’ acquisition of Mt. Eden Investment Advisors; Prudential Insurance’s divestiture of WMS, a $24 billion wealth management platform, to Envestnet
Previous: New York-based investment banks Cambridge IP, where she was a managing director, and Berkshire Capital
Education: B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Economics from Binghamton University; MBA in Finance with high honors from The Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University
Awards and recognitions: Keynote Speaker, 29th annual Abraham J. Briloff Lecture Series on Accountability and Society, Binghamton University School of Management (2017); Business and Financial Services Deal of the Year, ACG Champion’s Awards (2017); Financial Services Deal of the Year, 15th Annual M&A Advisor Awards (2016)
Name: Gretchen Seay
No. of years in M&A: 11
Current position: Co-founder, Managing Director, Clearsight Advisors Inc.
Key responsibilities: Seay leads a team of investment bankers assisting clients in M&A and capital raise matters from business development through the close of the transaction.
Significant deals: Some notable deals Seay has helped to source and execute, includes: ThinkBig’s sale to Teradata; JackBe’s sale to SoftwareAG; DataSource’s sale to EXL; VanDyke’s sale to Jacobs and Arryve’s sale to Grant Thornton.
Education: B.A. in International Studies from the University of Washington; MBA from the University of Chicago
Name: Heather Smith
No. of years in M&A: 21
Current Position: Managing Director, Houlihan Lokey
Key responsibilities: Provides customized equity capital services to clients for acquisition finance, growth capital and balance sheet recapitalization
Major deals: Among Smith's deal experience, she has helped raise $1.25 billion in structured equity acquisition financing for a partnership between GreatPoint Energy and China Wanxiango
Previous: Managing Director, Sagent Advisors
Education: B.A. from Harvard University, MBA from the Kellogg Graduate school of Management at Northwestern University
Michelle Van Hellemont
Name: Michelle Van Hellemont
No. of years in M&A: 13
Current Position: Managing director, Accordion Partners
Key responsibilities: Head of business development, including securing new private equity relationships, managing and growing the firm’s book of sponsor clients and supporting client development activities
Previous: Ambrose Employer Group, Bloomberg and Stax Inc.
Education: B.S. from the University of Michigan
Industry Advice: “You find people are always seeking something. You may not be able to help them directly, but you surely do know somebody, or a handful of people, who can help them,” she explains.