February 28, 2022
Mergers & Acquisitions Names the 2022 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A, Including Sterling Investment Partner’s Amy Weisman
Mergers & Acquisitions has named 24 outstanding women as honorees of our 7th annual Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. This year’s class demonstrates leadership both inside and outside of their firms, a focus on critical issues important to their clients, and a commitment to give back as role models and mentors. These successful dealmakers are not only trailblazers for other women, but the M&A industry as a whole.
The winners go beyond significant dealmaking accomplishments. Driving innovation and evidence of influence in the broader M&A industry was a crucial part of the criteria. Among other questions, nominees were asked to explain the role they play in advancing the state of women and how they are champions of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). This year’s honorees consistently pointed to the impact of mentors who contributed to their success. They are paying it forward by mentoring the next generation of women in M&A.
“I strongly believe in the importance of mentoring, sponsorship and active support of junior women in finance both inside and outside of Stifel. I look back on my career, particularly when I moved to the U.S. mid-career, and know that I have been extremely lucky to have strong mentors, sponsors and networks who supported me,” said Justine Mannering, managing director, consumer and retail, Stifel. “It is very important to me to return the favor and help young women to not only succeed but to thrive in the industry.”
When Rita-Anne O’Neill, partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, attended her first American Bar Association meeting and looked around, she could not believe how few women there were in the room. “At that point, I realized that other women needed to have the opportunity that I had at S&C,” she said. “I have been very fortunate during my career at S&C to have a strong female mentor and be surrounded by other women in M&A of varying seniorities.”
O’Neill, who co-founded the National Women in M&A Network, offers this advice: “As you build your career, someone at some point will tell you that you cannot accomplish something. Don’t let this negative energy get in the way of what you are doing. Work hard, earn the trust of your clients and colleagues, be assertive and trust the process. Turn the negative energy into positive action,” she said. “It is okay to love your work.”
Private equity has lagged behind the financial services industry as a whole when it comes to DEI. This year’s honorees, and initiatives such as the Institutional Limited Partners Association’s (ILPA) Diversity in Action, are working to change this. Numerous studies have shown that diversity, beyond being the right thing to do, drives innovation that yields success. In its 2021 Global Private Equity Survey, Ernst & Young maintains that “firms that don’t prioritize DEI risk losing the best people and the best deals, not to mention capital from LPs.”
“Throughout my career, I have recognized that my experiences as a diverse woman lawyer gives me a unique perspective that can be a tremendous asset in advocating for clients,” said Catherine Dargan, partner at Covington & Burling. “I firmly believe that diverse deal teams lead to creative solutions to address issues that arise in deals, ensuring that each deal is successfully executed.”
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals have become increasingly important in the private equity industry. To that end, this year we also asked candidates to share how they furthered their firm’s ESG goals.
“Our ethos is to provide operational capital to companies generating diverse content and to emphasize what we call ‘positive amplification’ – backing management teams willing to embrace good ESG practices and help them identify new avenues of value creation,” said Vania Schlogel founder of Atwater Capital. “We back content creators that address underserved markets including people of color, the LGBTQ community and others who have historically been ignored. As such, while we do not claim to be a social impact fund, I am very proud of whom and what our capital has been able to support.”
In their Q&As you’ll hear in their own words how this year’s honorees are making an impact in the middle market. An additional 20 women received honorable mentions. Congratulations to all!