Kate Wallman, managing director at Encore Consumer Capital, says a big influence in her life, including a 14-year career in private equity, has been “my mom.”
Growing up outside Boston, Wallman says her mother was a busy technology executive. “She was always in senior roles but always found time for our family. She demonstrated you could have both.”
This experience stayed with Wallman as she pursued her education, including studying economics at Boston College. She joined the campus venture capital group, giving her a first taste of investing. “I knew I wanted to get into investing,” she says. “I feel fortunate to have found something early in my career that I was passionate about.”
“Women tend to feel they have to be over-prepared and really buttoned-up. Be yourself and show your personality. You’ll be more memorable that way”
Wallman joined Lineage Capital in 2008 as an investor in owner-managed businesses in the lower-mid-market. During her time there, she did her MBA at Wharton School part-time and worked remotely in California, all with Lineage’s blessing. “They were very supportive,” she says.
While at Lineage, Wallman participated in a handful of consumer deals, finding “it was an area I really liked.” This helped put Encore, an investor in food and consumer products manufacturing, marketing and distribution companies, “on my radar,” she says. She joined the firm in 2016 as a vice-president.
Encore was the right fit. “It’s a meritocracy,” Wallman says, “reflected in how quickly I was able to rise in the ranks.”
Wallman was made a director in 2019, and then a managing director in 2021, a top leadership position alongside Encore co-founders Robert Brown and Scott Sellers. These promotions owed to her “leading an outsized share of new deals” and “bringing in a lot of new dealflow,” she says. “They reward that.”
Encore has also shown a commitment to diversity. “We’re a nine-person investment team and roughly half are women,” Wallman says. Business owners in the consumer products industry “appreciate that, they think that’s unique.”
While focusing “first and foremost” on driving strong performance, Encore has discovered that diversity in the portfolio can pay off, Wallman says. “Some of our best investments have come from female-founded and female-run companies.”
For young women contemplating a career in private equity, Wallman has a piece of advice. “Women,” she says, “tend to feel they have to be over-prepared and really buttoned-up. Be yourself and show your personality. You’ll be more memorable that way.”
Wallman, 37, lives north of San Francisco. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two-and-a-half-year-old son.