In this episode of Deal Us In, Katie-Rose Higgins joins host Ann Dorsett to share what it’s like to be at the VP level working on deals in M&A. As Vice President at Falfurrias Capital Partners, Katie-Rose has a wealth of knowledge on what it’s like to work on the deal-execution side of the industry.
From the intensive demands of due diligence to post close-strategy sessions with CEOs and board of directors, Katie-Rose shares a holistic look at the many facets of work involved with private equity. She also shares ideas for ways to encourage diversity in the profession.
“I think it's important to be a little bit more open-minded and consider different backgrounds,” explains Katie-Rose when discussing how to encourage more women to get involved in private equity. “When we recruit, I view it as getting the raw materials right. For us, those are things like intellectual curiosity, how someone carries themselves, their maturity, their intelligence, and their ability to put the team first. These are things that don't change. They're consistent personality characteristics.”
In addition to advice on recruiting diverse candidates, Katie-Rose and Ann discuss how firms can support team members in building their networks and helping people feel included and supported throughout their careers.
For those weighing the pros and cons of returning to school to pursue an MBA, Katie-Rose shares how she approached the decision herself. She explains that when you’re employed at a firm, you no longer need to have an MBA before advancing to the VP level.
Name: Katie-Rose Higgins
What she does: As Vice President at Falfurrias Capital Partners, Katie-Rose has had a successful career at the firm since joining in 2016 as an analyst. She previously served as an analyst at Charleston-based Sherman Financial Group, a global investment company with a dominant position in the debt-purchases and services industry.
Company: Falfurrias Capital Partners
Where to find Kaite-Rose: LinkedIn
Top takeaways from this episode
Investing capital is like developing a winning sports team — When considering a capital investment, Katie-Rose takes inspiration from how her dad develops a successful football team. She explains how to identify success in investments by creating a strategic plan: put your A-team out front, cultivate the right culture, and improve operations where needed. When you have these pieces in place, you can guarantee better outcomes in three to five years.
Being the only woman in the room — It is your ability to execute and your knowledge of the field you work in that makes you successful in private equity. By doing your homework and holding yourself accountable, you ensure that no one questions why, or whether you deserve to have a seat at the table.
Taking an open-minded approach to recruitment — When hiring, it's not uncommon in private equity to have dozens of predominantly male candidates apply for one opening. Katie-Rose aspires to encourage more women to enter the space. She believes it’s important to be open-minded and consider different backgrounds, including what Katie-Rose refers to as the candidate’s “raw materials.”
[03:37] A fortuitous path into private equity: Katie-Rose explains how she landed in private equity. Falfurrias recruits analysts straight from college, and while not a typical recruitment approach, this was how she got her start.
[06:06] Finding commonalities with peers: When you work in private equity, you have to be comfortable with small talk. Katie-Rose shares how she approaches finding common ground with colleagues and uses that to build relationships, especially within the industry.
[07:41] Encouraging diversity through recruitment practices: Katie-Rose is actively involved in recruitment at her firm. In this role, she experiences first-hand the challenges of receiving 100 mostly-male applicants. Companies that rely on regimented talent pipelines struggle with diversity.
[10:20] There’s no textbook for real-world problems: Anyone considering pausing their career to return to school, Katie-Rose sees it differently. She recommends not discounting the real-world experience you will gain while doing the work, likely in the same amount of time it takes to temporarily leave the industry to get your MBA.
[12:28] Building your network: Katie-Rose shares how she has built her network by getting involved in boards and community groups, such as The Arts Empowerment Project. She is also grateful to members of her firm for the introductions they provide.
[16:05] Don’t wait until you’re an expert to participate: From Katie-Rose’s perspective, she has seen women hold back from participating in events because they don’t see themselves as an expert in their field. Her advice is to stop waiting for success to come to you: Jump in with both feet; put yourself out there and build your connections now.
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