Forum Brings Together Women in Private Equity


As the saying goes, there is strength in numbers. For a group of 100 women who attended the second annual Women Who Fund Forum on Sept. 29, this is more than just figurative meaning. In the areas of private equity and venture capital, women are few and far between. While the number of women in these industries is small, it’s growing, and they’ve created a strong network.

“Private equity has some image problems,” said Margaret Gibson, partner at Kirkland & Ellis, during her keynote address. “My partners are all men; my clients are almost all men.”

Launched in 2015, Women Who Fund Forum is a partnership between the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance. It is designed to bring together women in the private equity, entrepreneurship, and venture capital industries and provide them a platform where they can share their ideas, experiences, and expertise.

Along with Gibson, other guest speakers included Maureen Miller Brosman, executive director of the Michigan Venture Capital Association; image voice specialist Marlena Reigh; Elizabeth Parkinson, U-M’s executive director for marketing; and Mary Hinesly, professor of business communication at Michigan Ross. The forum also featured a panel discussion from some of Ann Arbor’s top female business leaders, where they shared their insights on building relationships, attracting funding, and how to create long-term growth for emerging companies. Speakers explored how to elevate your personal brand, how businesses can make the most of the digital era, and how women can succeed in male-oriented business cultures.

“There are several characteristics to reach success,” said Carol Clark, managing director of Healthcare Technology Capital Partners, during the panel discussion. “Resiliency is critical, and you have to have the credentials, as this is a competitive world; interpersonal skills, because being a strong quant isn’t enough; and networking.”



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