Julia Karol slide show opener
Mergers & Acquisitions' special report celebrates femal professionals in private equity, including Watermill COO Julia Karol.

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.

“I would love to see more of us in the industry,” Karol professes, adding that “there are just so few of us.”
Sonya Brown
Sonya Brown
Name: Sonya Brown
No. of years in M&A: 21
Current position: General Partner, Norwest Venture Partners
Key responsibilities: Brown co-heads the firm’s growth equity practice, focusing on investing across the consumer, retail, internet and business services sectors.
Previous: Summit Partners; Equity Residential; Bear Stearns
Education: B.S. from Northwestern University; MBA from Harvard Business School
Kelly Cornelis
Name: Kelly Cornelis
No. of years in M&A: 19
Current position: Partner, LaSalle Capital
Key responsibilities: Cornelis is responsible for sourcing, evaluating and structuring investments; portfolio management; investor relations.
Previous: SB Partners; William Blair & Co.
Education: BBA from University of Notre Dame; MBA from Northwestern University
Melissa Dickerson
Name: Melissa Dickerson
No. of years in M&A: 19
Current position: Chief Financial Officer and Managing Director, Genstar Capital
Key responsibilities: Dickerson oversees more than $9 billion under management; maintaining SEC compliance; implementing environmental, social and governance policy, and supervising back office operations
Previous: American Industrial Partners; Deloitte
Education: B.A. from Vassar College; MBA from University of California, Berkeley
Kathy Fields
Name: Kathy Fields
No. of years in M&A: 25
Current position: General partner, general counsel and chief compliance officer, JMI Equity, San Diego
Key responsibilities: As a member of JMI’s investment team, Fields is responsible for deal structuring and execution, portfolio development and compliance
Previous: Partner in the corporate, private equity and technology company groups at Goodwin Procter
Education: Stanford Law School
Awards and recognitions: Named one of the Best Lawyers in America by U.S. News and Best Lawyers, 2012
Key to success: “I spend a lot of time thinking about how to deal with things that could go wrong and not letting them before they do.”
Kristina Heinze
Name: Kristina Heinze
No. of years in M&A: 16
Current Position: Partner and co-founder, ParkerGale Capital
Key Responsibilities: Sourcing and monitoring investments
Previous: William Blair Capital Partners; Credit Suisse
Industry Perspective: “You have to find a way to stand out. Just having the check anymore? That doesn’t mean anything.”
Education: B.A. from the University of Illinois
Pam Hendrickson
Name: Pam Hendrickson
No. of years in M&A: 11
Current position: Chief Operating Officer and Vice Chairman, The Riverside Co.
Key responsibilities: Manages firm’s deal origination and fundraising teams
Previous: Managing Director and member of the operating committee at J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM)
Education: Undergraduate degree from Duke University; MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University
Key to success: “Have confidence in yourself and remember you can’t control everything.”
Julia Karol
Name: Julia Karol
No. of years in M&A: 8
Current position: President and Chief Operating Officer, Watermill Group
Key responsibilities: Karol manages the overall day-to-day operations of the firm and helps Watermill portfolio companies develop and implement their strategies
Previous: Jumpstart, an early-education nonprofit
Education: Tufts University; Stanford University; Harvard Business School’s OPM Program
Awards and recognitions: Named one of the Most Influential Women in Middle Market M&A in 2016
Point of view: “You have to look around and make sure you have a diverse and balanced group of people working with you. [This type of ] awareness is essential for growth.”