This week at PEI Group, we’re spotlighting 60 Women of Influence in Private Markets. The 10 women in private equity are of particular interest to PE Hub readers. You can read about all of them here.
Under the leadership of global co-head and chief investment officer Lynn Baranski, BlackRock’s Private Equity Partners unit – a team of around 195 professionals managing $46 billion in client commitments – has been working to meet the needs of a more diverse set of investors. This includes the launch of the BlackRock Private Investments Fund – a closed-end retail fund for US-based individuals – as well as two European Long-Term Investment Funds, marking a major step in expanding the firm’s private wealth offering. Baranski and her team also partnered with Sidra Capital on the Sidra-BlackRock Asia-Pacific Private Equity Strategy, which provides investors with sharia-compliant PE opportunities in the region, holding a $101 million first close in October 2022.
In 2020, Carolina Brochado joined EQT as a partner to help the firm launch its European tech-focused growth equity fund EQT Growth. Two years later, she was appointed deputy head of the firm’s growth advisory team, and the inaugural EQT Growth fund closed on €2.4 billion, exceeding its €2 billion target. Colleagues say Brochado is a “natural leader and role model” who helps foster a “collaborative culture” at the firm, while praising her “sharp investment acumen and strong deal-making capabilities.” Brochado is also actively involved in Level 20, a non-profit that aims to improve gender diversity in the private equity industry.
As one of the earliest members of GP-led specialist firm Morningside Capital, partner Tori Buffery has been a driving force within the secondaries market. Last year, she headed one of the first funds globally to focus on single-asset secondaries transactions. The firm held the final close for its second fund dedicated to these transactions in April 2023. Buffery has been variously described by those who have worked with her as a “smart,” “consummate professional” who “always finds time to give back to the community.” One advocate says Buffery, who previously covered primaries and secondaries at CPP Investments, has capabilities and a breadth of knowledge that are “almost unmatched” in the secondaries space.
Paris-based Sabina Comis has legal expertise that spans both French tax and private equity. She was recently elected as global managing partner at US-headquartered Dechert, following a succession of impressive career moves. This includes being appointed to the management committee that oversees the law firm’s Paris office and being elected to its global policy committee. Comis has advised clients such as KKR, Blisce, 17Capital and Rothschild & Co, and is said to have “developed a reputation for devising cutting-edge tax modelling techniques” for multi-party, multi-jurisdictional PE buyouts.
With more than 25 years at Carlyle under her belt, it would not be an overstatement to describe Janine Feng as synonymous with the firm’s Asia business. Based in Hong Kong, Feng is the most senior female leader for Carlyle in Asia and focuses on buyout opportunities across the financial services, consumer and healthcare sectors. As partner and managing director of Carlyle Asia, Feng is credited with playing an instrumental role in guiding the firm’s investment team, and portfolio companies more broadly, in navigating complex pandemic-related and geopolitical difficulties in recent years. Feng serves as a mentor to junior women on the team and has helped Carlyle grow its number of female investment professionals in the region.
KKR partner Saleena Goel is described by a peer as “a true visionary” who has the “ability to spot emerging trends and see around corners to seize opportunities others simply don’t see.” Goel is head of KKR Customised Portfolio Solutions, which supports long-term strategic partnerships and builds diversified private equity exposures across funds, co-investments and secondaries. Goel established CPS in 2010 and today the unit oversees $16 billion in AUM. Goel co-led the creation of one of the largest single-asset secondaries processes of 2022, the $2 billion-plus recapitalisation of software company Internet Brands, which was crowned Secondaries Deal of the Year in the Americas by affiliate title Private Equity International.
LGT Capital Partners
Martha Heitmann has led some of LGT Capital Partners’ largest and most complex secondaries transactions spanning both LP and GP-led deals. Having joined the firm in 2007, she was promoted to partner in 2019. After 15 years in Europe, in 2022 she returned to the US from LGT’s Switzerland-based headquarters in order to establish an office in San Francisco. Heitmann is chair of LGT’s DE&I committee and is a mentor at the firm and to rising female talent in the wider industry, including through her involvement in organizations such as Level 20 and 100 Women in Finance.
As partner and head of African financial services at LeapFrog Investments, Karima Ola has a hand in shaping the continent’s often-overlooked private equity investment landscape. Ola’s leading role in the firm’s recent investments is a testament to her commitment to this cause: in May 2022, LeapFrog invested in payments technology provider Interswitch, and, in December, it invested in off-grid solar financier Sun King. Ola was deeply involved in all stages of due diligence for both investments, all the while leading LeapFrog’s impact steering committee. Ola also advocates for African investment on a global level, including participating in the annual meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund last year.
Rhonda Ryan is no stranger to the private equity industry, with more than two decades’ experience within alternative investments. Ryan is currently partner and head of European private equity at Mercer. Over the past year she nearly doubled the size of Mercer’s private equity team while overseeing all manager research in the region. Ryan also leads on a number of key client relationships, including notable mandates such as the buildout of a small mid-market private equity portfolio for a global investor, which now exceeds €1 billion. Colleagues say Ryan is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion, and that she has played an invaluable role in mentoring women in the firm’s investment and business development teams.
Apollo Global Management
Sorensen first joined Apollo as an associate over a decade ago and spent seven years with the firm. After a two-year spell at Global Infrastructure Partners as an investor relations principal, Sorensen returned to Apollo in 2020 and the following year was promoted to partner, co-head of product and head of private markets product. She now co-leads a group of more than 50 professionals and oversees multiple substantial fundraises at any given time, including the firm’s latest flagship private equity fundraise. Sorensen also co-leads Apollo’s women’s network and is described by peers as a “remarkable” team leader and mentor for industry professionals more broadly.