In order to fully cultivate the kinds of business relationships that result in lucrative deals, private equity firms are starting to look at designating a person or a team to source the most fruitful deals.
For Meahgan O’Grady, who joined Palladium Equity Partners as Director of Business Development earlier in 2021, private equity is exciting because of the opportunity to work with founder-owned businesses that can really make waves.
“It's such a special opportunity to speak with business owners in multiple different types of industries and talk about ways we could help them grow their business,” Meahgan says on this episode of Deal Us In.
As the leader of the firm’s business development team, Meahgan works with a range of stakeholders, developing and enriching personal connections. She believes women often have a special talent in this arena, and although private equity firms are increasingly seeking the benefits of diverse teams, there’s still a way to go when it comes to helping women achieve their full potential in private equity.
“Although it has evolved and gotten better by leaps and bounds, there's still room to grow,” she says.
Meahgan thinks that women can continue to carve out their own niche in this industry by pushing through the difficult times and always advocating for themselves and others.
Her advice: “Be the change that you want to see, and be that change from within. That's the best way to do it.”
Name: Meahgan O’Grady
What she does: Meahgan is the Director of Business Development at Palladium Equity Partners where she sources deals primarily with founder-owner businesses for the middle-market private equity firm.
Company: Palladium Equity Partners
Where to find Meahgan: LinkedIn
Top takeaways from this episode
Find the right tools to make networking easier — As a self-professed introvert, Meahgan recognizes that networking can be difficult, especially when you’re first starting your career. But eventually, she says, it’ll get easier — you just have to push through difficult moments and come up with some personalized methods that make business networking easier for you.
Don’t be too shy to advocate for yourself — Women in business can have a particularly hard time talking about their own successes and highlighting all the ways they’ve helped their team. But advocating for yourself is crucial for professional development and seizing all the opportunities you deserve, so try to conquer that fear and highlight your strengths and talents.
Change is best effectuated from within — Women who are involved in private equity leadership need to use their platforms to keep pushing for more diversity — that’s the only way real change will come.
[1:12] Path to private equity: Meaghan discusses her career path and background, which includes early years at Goldman Sachs and an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.
[07:52] Allocating time, finding her path: When Meahgan was breaking into private equity and looking into professional organizations to join and passion projects to work on, she threw a lot of different ideas against the wall to see what stuck. Eventually, she says, you’ll find your niche, but it’s okay to try a few different ideas on for size.
[11:20] It’s okay to be an introvert in BD: Meahgan says she is an introvert by nature, so professional networking isn’t always the most comfortable space for her. You don’t have to be a super bubbly extrovert to make great connections in the business space!
[12:30] Step outside your comfort zone: While introverts definitely have a place in private equity and business development, they may have to work a little harder to forge connections. Meahgan says that you’ll probably have to work through some uncomfortable moments when building connections, but it will become easier over time.
[19:00] Diversity of thought is vital: Improving gender diversity in private equity is a passion for Meahgan — she says she sees a great increase in innovation and creative thought from a diverse team. This extends beyond gender diversity, too: ethnic, social, and professional diversity all helps a team see from different sides and avoid cohesive, bland thought.
[20:35] Look at your career like a layer cake: Meahgan says she builds her experiences on top of one another, always looking to the future but paying attention to each piece of the puzzle.
[26:15] Maintain professional relationships: Relationships and professional connections are vital in the private equity world — as well as any other industry — and it’s not worth it to ruin past relationships. Meahgan points out ways to delicately move on in your career when it’s time to leave a position, but says it’s never a good idea to completely let your past fall to the wayside when looking to your future.
[29:20] Don’t burn yourself out, but work hard: Meahgan says she was working a lot when she first started in private equity after business school, and she was sometimes scared she wouldn’t be able to push through. But that early experience is very helpful, even though it can be tough to work so hard. Don’t wear yourself completely thin, but when starting a private equity career, realize that you’ll have to put in some hard work up front — it’ll definitely pay off in the end.
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