Female founder recalls mentoring moment with Henry Kravis

  • Mentors are important to women’s success: Nima’s Said
  • Men who help women in their careers should be acknowledged
  • Meritocracy is important

Suna Said, founder of single-family office Nima Capital, believes that as American society goes through its reckoning with rampant sexual harassment, women should be vocal about the men who have helped them rise in their careers.

“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t celebrate the men who helped them get to their success,” Said said, stressing that such stories should be as prevalent as stories about sexual harassers getting thrown out of power.

“It’s encouragement for the men out there doing great things for women.”

Said, who spoke at Buyouts Insider’s Family Office Connect conference May 31 in New York, said her own career has been helped by men. She recalled a mentoring moment provided by KKR Co-Founder Henry Kravis that helped her through a challenging moment.

Said, who sprinkled her talk with emotion unusual in the buttoned-up environment of a private investment conference, launched Nima Capital in 2013.

At around the same time she had two children back-to-back and was nursing them. She described this situation as “idiosyncratic” to businesswomen: starting a business and dealing with the physical effort of childbirth and raising infants.

At that time, she had lunch with Kravis, who helped talk her through the tough spot and offered his assistance as an adviser.

“I was struggling. …. He was so kind; he took me to lunch, I cried for most of it. He let his barriers down. He kept saying, ‘I really believe in you, I see your numbers, I see what you can do .’ He helped me with all these details and offered to be an adviser. Just knowing I had him in the wings, knowing I had his support, made such a difference. … It was enough to have him for those two hours, have him lean in and say, ‘I believe in you.’”

“A lot of people take the time [to help out], and it’s important to highlight that,” Said said.

Said believes in a meritocracy, a philosophy instilled in her by her father, where employees are held to the same standards.

However, in finance, at least, women face a perception bias that men are better investors, even though a recent study by Fidelity Investments showed the opposite.

Fidelity last year studied around 8 million investment accounts and found that women saved more money and earned higher annual returns than men.

Despite the findings, only 9 percent of those Fidelity surveyed as part of the study said women were better investors than men.

“It’s important to give women the resources and the ability to shine … and I think it’s really important, though, that once women are in those positions, they are held to those standards and equal standards and challenge themselves and make sure they’re contributing,” Said said.

Correction: A previous version of this report misspelled Suna Said’s name. The report has been updated. Also, a sentence describing Said’s situation as idiosyncratic has been expanded with the words ‘to businesswomen’ to clarify the meaning. 

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