WSJ Women To Watch List – The Whopping Two That Represent Private Equity

A Wall Street Journal special report called “The 50 Women to Watch” outlines the most important female decision makers in business. It reveals that, despite a groundbreaking year for women in politics, Hillary Clinton’s “18 million cracks” in the glass ceiling does not apply to the corporate world. I believe the writer uses the encouraging term, “pipe dream.” Fewer women hold corporate-officer jobs at Fortune 500 companies than did in 2005, and even then, a mere 16.4% of those jobs were held by women, the article reports.

In finance, the list is lacking without the likes of Erin Callan, former CFO of Lehman Brothers (now at Credit Suisse), Sally Krawcheck, formerly of Citigroup, and Zoe Cruz, formerly of Morgan Stanley. Despite that, ladies like Barbera Desoer at Bank of America, Terri Dial of Citigroup, and Ruth Porat of Morgan Stanley held it down for Wall Street. But private equity? Forget it.

The only PE representation comes from outside of the U.S., with a whopping two women, at numbers 43 and 47. If you’re not yet acquainted, I’d like to introduce Maha Al Ghunaim and Phuti Malabie. Also noteworthy on the LP side: Jane Mendillo, the recently appointed CEO and President of Harvard Management Co, the company that manages Harvard’s $36.9 billion endowment.

Al Ghunaim, number 43, is the chairwoman of Global Investment House, a Kuwaiti Investment bank with a private equity arm that hopes to close six PE deals by the end of the year. From the Journal:

When she and a male colleague founded Global in 1998, she agreed he would be chairman, understanding that a Kuwaiti woman couldn’t attend the all-male evening gatherings during which business deals are commonly sealed. But that changed last year. Her experience spoke louder than her gender, and she took over the top post at her company.

Malabie, number 47, is the managing director of Shanduka Energy, an infrastructure investment subsidiary of South Africa-based firm Shanduka Group.

Under Ms. Malabie, Shanduka Energy has pursued partnerships with companies investing in Mozambique and South Africa, both of which are expected to grow despite the global financial crisis. Ms. Malabie is also leading the hunt for what she sees as undervalued assets on the continent.

Mendillo, number 33, was appointed head of Harvard Management Co. in July after yielding a 13.5% average annual return at Wellesley College.

Even during a financial crisis, the Harvard fund is expected by everyone to outperform its peers, thanks to quality staff, top pay, and its access to top hedge funds and private-equity partnerships that most investors can’t get near. In this past fiscal year, ended in June, Harvard put up a return of 8.6%.