We are pleased to announce GrowthCap’s inaugural Top Women in Growth Equity and Private Equity awards. Since 2013, we have been producing feature publications on today’s leading investors to provide private company CEOs as well as institutional limited partners with additional insights on investors. Selection for our awards are rooted largely in evaluation of an investor’s professional achievements while frequently incorporating feedback from peers, colleagues and other industry participants.
We decided to initiate an awards list focused on women leaders in the private equity industry to provide our audience of private company CEOs, founders and senior executives a closer look at the firms that they may be considering as capital partners. Moreover, we wanted to provide the thousands of pensions, endowments and other institutional limited partners in our audience information on specific individuals who are performing at the top of their peer set.
The individuals selected for The Top Women in Growth Equity and Private Equity of 2020 are those who have demonstrated deep expertise in private company investing, portfolio management, firm operations as well as business expansion strategy and execution. Moreover, they have demonstrated a high level of consistent professional performance over a sustained period of time.
Please join us in congratulating this year’s awardees.
Firm: Norwest Venture Partners
Title: General Partner and Co-Head of Growth Equity
Sonya Brown joined Norwest Venture Partners in 2011 as General Partner and Co-Head of the firm’s Growth Equity team. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California Norwest manages over $9.5 billion in capital and has invested in more than 600 companies. Sonya brings over 20 years of experience in investments to the company. She oversees growth equity and buyouts, investing across a wide range of sectors with a focus on consumer products and services, eCommerce, retail, and business services. Her current investments include Jolyn, Junk King, Kendra Scott (recapitalized by Berkshire Partners), SENREVE, and SmartSign. She played an instrumental role in Norwest’s investments in PCA Skin (acquired by Colgate-Palmolive), Bailey 44 (acquired by Digital Brands Group), and The Learning Experience (acquired by Golden Gate Capital). Before Norwest, Sonya was at Summit Partners, a private equity firm managing $20 billion for almost a decade. Prior to Summit, she was a founder and General Partner of iXL Ventures in 1999, where she oversaw the funding and growth of various technology and internet companies. Sonya holds a bachelor of science degree from Northwestern University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Firm: MidOcean Partners
Title: Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director
Deborah Hodges is the Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director at MidOcean Partners, a premier alternative asset manager that specializes in middle market private equity and alternative credit investments with $10 billion of assets and commitments under management. She has been with the New York-based firm since its inception in 2003. During her tenure at the firm, Deborah has played a key role in major strategic decisions spanning fundraising, HR, and new product development including the launch and expansion of MidOcean Credit Partners in 2009. MidOcean Credit Partners today manages more than $7.5 billion across a series of alternative credit strategies, CLOs, and customized separately managed accounts. In 2003, she was part of the team that led the acquisition of Deutsche Bank’s DB Capital Partners’ US and European private equity businesses for $1.625 billion. In her role at MidOcean, Deborah championed the launch of MidOcean’s ESG initiatives, appointing its first ESG Officer and recently, she launched the Women at MidOcean program, aiming to provide mentorship and networking opportunities to women at the firm. Prior to joining MidOcean Partners, Deborah was a Managing Director at Deutsche Bank serving on DB’s Global Risk Committee and as the Chief Operating Officer of DB Capital Partners, where she was instrumental in building DB Capital Partners fund-of-funds business, a business she launched while at Bankers Trust. Before this, she was a high yield research analyst with the Capital Management Group at Bankers Trust. Deborah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton and an MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
Firm: Industry Ventures
Title: Managing Director
Lindsay Sharma is a Managing Director at Industry Ventures, a leading investment firm that focuses on venture capital. She joined the firm in 2014 as a Vice President of secondary funds and was subsequently promoted to Managing Director to head the firm’s latest investment fund strategy in 2018. Headquartered in San Francisco, Industry Ventures manages over $3 billion of institutional capital. With over thirteen years of experience, Lindsay has a deep understanding of investment strategy in the alternatives space as well as tactical experience in M&A. Her areas of focus have included due diligence assessment, strategic analysis, and relationship management. Before Industry Ventures, Lindsay was a Principal in corporate strategy and development at Intuit, leading mergers and acquisition activities. Prior to this, she held a role as private equity associate at Great Hill Partners and was an investment banking analyst at Bear Stearns. She earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor of science degree in business administration in finance and accounting from Indiana University.
Firm: Leonard Green
Alyse Wagner joined Leonard Green Partners as an Associate in 2003 and has since gone on to become a Partner. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the private equity firm has a 30-year track record executing traditional buyouts, recapitalizations, growth equity, and selective public equity and debt investments. The investment firm focuses on the consumer, business, healthcare services, and retail sectors across the United States. Alyse currently serves on the Board of Directors of Aersale, Aspen Dental, CHG Healthcare Services, ExamWorks, MDVIP, and RestorixHealth, among others. At Leonard Green, Alyse plays an active role in the company’s investments in MultiPlan, North American Partners in Anesthesia, and Prospect Medical. Her previous board positions include Animal Health International and U.S. Renal Care. Before joining the firm, she worked in the investment banking division of Credit Suisse First Boston (formerly DLJ). Alyse holds a bachelor of science degree in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Firm: Catalyst Investors
Susan Bihler joined Catalyst Investors in 2009 as an Analyst and in 2017 was promoted to Partner. As Partner, she is responsible for sourcing and executing investment strategies in the software, healthcare as well as business services sectors. Susan also oversees and prioritizes industry sector research, sector investment strategy formulation, and target sector deal flow generation. She currently serves on the boards of Catalyst portfolio companies eSUB Construction Software, Datavail and Envoy Global. Previously, Susan served on the boards of Ascentis, Alert Solutions and Clinicient and as a board observer at MINDBODY and WeddingWire. Catalyst has praised Susan for her integral role in the success of its portfolio companies. She also mentors younger investment professionals within Catalyst and through other industry organizations. Prior to joining the firm, Susan was an analyst at CIT Group, where she was responsible for credit analysis for various senior secured debt transactions within CIT’s communications, media & entertainment group. Susan graduated from Georgetown University cum laude, with a B.S. in Business Administration.
Firm: L Catterton
Title: Managing Partner
Karen Gordon is a Managing Partner of Portfolio Operations at L Catterton, a consumer-focused investment firm that seeks to invest in major consumer segments. Headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut, L Catterton manages around $20 billion of equity capital across seven fund strategies, making it one of the largest consumer-focused private equity firms. Prior to joining L Catterton, Karen was a Managing Director at Providence Equity Partners where she worked with portfolio companies and drove operational improvement as well as topline growth. Before this, she was a senior partner and managing director at The Boston Consulting Group where for over seventeen years she oversaw sales and marketing practices to help clients optimize new growth opportunities while propelling large-scale transformation. Karen began her career as an assistant brand manager at Proctor & Gamble. She graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA, where she was a Baker Scholar. Karen earned her bachelor of arts degree in history from Yale University.
Firm: Bessemer Venture Partners
Talia Goldberg became the youngest Vice President in the history of venture capital firm, Bessemer Venture Partners. Today, she’s a Partner based out of their San Francisco office where she focuses on early and growth-stage software, consumer, and marketplace investments. Joining Bessemer while still a college student, Talia started with an entry-level position and subsequently went on to work closely with portfolio company, Pinterest, where she helped with business development. She has also led the firm’s investment in Toss, a South Korean payment service valued at $1.2 billion. Before Bessemer, Talia worked in business development at Foursquare and Simple Finance, a consumer-facing mobile banking solution, later acquired by BBVA. While in college, Talia was a co-founder of Dorm Room Fund, First Round Capital’s student-run investment fund that now has investment committees across the US. Today, she is a pod leader and a mentor for rising female VCs and entrepreneurs. Talia graduated from the University of Pennsylvania where she created her own major between the Wharton School of Business and the College of Arts & Sciences.
Title: General Partner
Susan Clark is General Partner, Portfolio Operations for TCV, a growth equity firm that has invested over $10 billion in public and private technology companies. In this role, she spearheads the advisory and operation organization to drive value across the portfolio. Susan’s role is multifaceted, ranging from working with CEOs and investment teams to senior portfolio leadership. Collaborating with investment teams, Susan helps evaluate the management, processes, and market position of prospective investments. Before joining TCV in 2019, she was the Vice President of Operations and Chief of Staff at Vista Equity Partners. In this role, she led key strategic programs across the portfolio. Susan has also held several strategic planning and business process improvement roles across Dell, IBM, and DXC Technology (formerly EDS). She earned her bachelor of science in MIS at Kettering University, where both NASA and GM sponsored her. She also received an MBA from Oakland University.
Title: Managing Director
Candice Szu is a Managing Director with Carlyle Global Partners, The Carlyle Group’s first long-dated private equity fund. Carlyle Global Partners endeavors to deliver attractive risk-adjusted returns on significant sums of capital over a longer timeframe than typical private equity funds, thereby creating substantial longer-term appreciation. Before the launch of Carlyle Global Partners in 2016, Candice was focused on US buyout investment opportunities in the telecommunications and media sectors. Headquartered in New York, Carlyle is one of the world’s largest investment firms with over $223 billion of assets under management. In a competitive field, Candice emphasizes the importance of finding an edge by always bringing something “that’s a little different” to the table. Prior to joining Carlyle in 2004 she was an analyst at Goldman Sach. Candice received her MBA from Harvard Business School and AB in economics from Harvard College.
Firm: Lightyear Capital
Title: Managing Director, General Counsel, and Chief Administrative Officer
As Managing Director, General Counsel, and Chief Administrative Officer at Lightyear Capital, Lori Forlano has overseen the firm’s financial, legal, and operational teams for over fifteen years. Founded in 2000, Lightyear Capital has raised over $2.5 billion of capital and has completed investments across the financial services spectrum, including asset management, banks, brokerage, financial technology, insurance, and specialty finance. Bringing over 20 years of experience to the role, Lori manages the company’s investment funds, financial reporting, portfolio company monitoring, and other internal activities. Before Lightyear, Lori was at Context Capital Management, a convertible arbitrage hedge fund where she was the Managing Director of Business and Legal Affairs. Prior to this, she was counsel to private equity and hedge funds at Morgan Stanley and an associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. She began her career in the editorial department of The New Yorker. Lori holds a bachelor of arts degree in english from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.
Firm: Audax Group
Title: Managing Director
Pamela Martin is a Managing Director at Audax Private Equity, a leading alternative investment manager. Since joining in 2002, Pamela has been an invaluable member of the investment team and has gone on to optimize all aspects of Audax Private Equity’s operations, focusing on business development and human capital management, including hiring, training, and professional development. During her tenure, the organization has gone from fifteen employees to a workforce of over 100 people. As a strong advocate for diversity, Pamela was instrumental in spearheading Audax’s partnership with Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a collaboration aimed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities among private equity investors. Prior to joining Audax eighteen years ago, Pamela was a senior associate at The Parthenon Group where she was tasked with strategy consulting. She holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Dartmouth College.
Title: General Partner
Jessica Verrilli is a General Partner at GV, formerly Google Ventures. At GV, she invests in consumer, enterprise, marketplace as well as fintech companies typically in Series A, B or C rounds. Headquartered in Mountain View, California, GV is the venture capital arm of Alphabet and provides seed, venture, as well as growth-stage funding to technology companies. Jessica is also on the Board of Digits, Lambda School, and The Wing. She co-founded #ANGELS, an initiative that hosts events for female entrepreneurs in 2015 with five other female Twitter executives. Prior to joining GV, Jessica spent almost a decade at Twitter scaling the company from 34 employees to several thousand. As the vice president of corporate development and strategy, she oversaw more than thirty acquisitions and played a significant role in optimizing Twitter’s new products, technology, and business initiatives. She is an advocate for more women in tech and a board member of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Jessica earned a bachelor of arts degree in human biology from Stanford University.
Firm: FFL Partners
Karen Winterhof is a Director at FFL Partners, a private equity firm investing in middle-market companies. Headquartered in San Francisco, FFL has a 20-year track record and over $4.5 billion under management. FFL is one of the many firms working on diversity, where Winterhorf has been an advocate for ending gender disparity since she joined in 2015. Prior to joining FFL, Karen was a senior associate of Highbridge Principal Strategies (HBS) in the Specialty Loan Fund and a private equity associate at Clayton Dubilier & Rice. Earlier in her career, she was an investment banking analyst at Morgan Stanley. Karen is a member of the board of directors of Crisis Prevention Institute, Orthodontic Partners, Icynene-Lapolla and Curo Financial Technologies. She also works on FFL’s investment in EyeCare Partners. Karen holds a bachelor of science in engineering degree with a focus on operations research and financial engineering from Princeton University.
As a Principal at Apax, Harjot Dhaliwal manages client relationships as part of the firm’s Tech & Telco team. Alongside her team, she focuses on buyouts and larger growth investments, with a unique sector-focused capacity. Headquartered in London, Apax is a leading private equity firm with investments that span the consumer, healthcare, services, telecommunications, and technology sectors. Based in the Mumbai office, Harjot has participated in several notable deals, including Apax’s $200 million minority stake in Indian AI firm, Fractal Analytics. Following the investment, Fractal was valued at $500 million. Before joining Apax, Harjot was a vice president at Warburg Pincus, where she oversaw investment opportunities in the TMT and business services sectors. Prior to this, she was an associate at TA Associates and an analyst at investment banking firm, Rothschild India. Harjot holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi.
Firm: Summit Partners
Title: Vice President
Sophia Popova is a Vice President at Summit Partners, a $27 billion global growth equity firm. Sophia has been recognized for her investing acumen, strong focus in the technology sector, and her active role in recruiting talent to Summit. She has played an instrumental role in four Summit investments since joining the firm in 2017, representing more than $450 million in invested capital. Her investment experience includes Klaviyo, a SaaS data and marketing automation platform, and Markforged, a manufacturer of industrial 3D printers and printing systems. As part of her role on Summit’s diversity committee, Sophia has helped recruit several women to the investment team. Previously, Sophia was an associate at Founder Collective, investment partner at Dorm Room Fund, business development professional at Recombine, and product manager at Contactive. She started her career at Morgan Stanley as an analyst. Sophia holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics and mathematics from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Firm: Francisco Partners
Christine Wang is a Principal with Francisco Partners and has been with the firm since 2015. Headquartered in San Francisco, Francisco Partners is a leading global private equity firm specializing in investments in technology and technology-enabled businesses. Christine works with a wide variety of management teams, helps founders consider and execute on mergers and acquisitions, navigates operational complexities, and helps recruit new additions to the executive team. She is currently a Board Member at LegalZoom and Quest Software. Before joining Francisco Partners, Christine worked at Advent International where she assessed private equity investments in the business services, financial services, and technology sectors. She joined the private equity industry after spending three years in the financial institutions group at JP Morgan. Christine graduated from Stanford University Graduate School of Business with an MBA. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics and east asian language and cultures from Columbia University.
Firm: Astarte Capital Partners
Title: Co-Founder and Partner
Teresa Farmaki is a Co-Founder and Partner of Astarte Capital Partners, a specialist alternatives co-investment platform. She has over seventeen years of experience in structuring, execution, and senior management in the private equity sector. Headquartered in London, Astarte has focused on investing across the transportation, natural resources, and specialist real estate sectors by cultivating long-term partnerships alongside established asset operators. Prior to establishing Astarte, Teresa was a managing director of private equity for Signia Wealth, where she oversaw the investment strategy and investment selection for fund investments and co-investments. Before this, in her role as CIO at Piraeus Group, she was instrumental in the launch of three private equity and venture capital funds. She has also held positions at UBS Investment Bank and Ernst & Young. Teresa earned a bachelor of science degree in economics and finance from the University of Athens and an MBA from Columbia University.
Kristin Steen is a Principal at CCMP Capital Advisors, formerly JP Morgan Partners, a private equity investment firm that focuses on leveraged buyout and growth capital transactions. Since joining the New York-based firm nine years ago, she has focused on making investments in the consumer sector. CCMP has invested in excess of $8 billion in consumer companies over thirty-four years in specialty retail, service businesses, mass channel supply, information services, multi-channel marketing, and consumer product sub-sectors. Before joining CCMP, Kristin worked for Lone Star Funds and HBK Capital Management. Notably, Kristin was an associate at CCMP from 2005 to 2008 before returning to the firm in 2011. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Shoes For Crews and The Hillman Group. Kristin holds a bachelor of science degree in commerce from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia.
Firm: Great Hill Partners
Title: Vice President
Alison Holmes joined Great Hill Partners in 2016. Since then, she has evaluated, overseen and financed companies in her target sectors of eCommerce / digital marketplaces and consumer products, as well as the analytics & data, digital media and software businesses that service these segments. She is currently a member of the board of Custom Ink, a leader in custom apparel and accessories for groups and occasions, and helps manage Great Hill’s investments in The RealReal (NasdaqGS:REAL), Wayfair (NYSE:W) and YogaWorks. The Boston-based private growth-equity firm has raised nearly $8.0 billion since its inception, including its most recent fund, Great Hill Equity Partners VII, LP, with $2.5 billion of committed capital. Before joining Great Hill, Alison was an investment banker at Rothschild & Co., Financo and Raymond James. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Trinity college in Hartford, Connecticut.
Firm: Silver Lake Partners
Bianca Stoica is a Principal at Silver Lake Partners, a global leader in technology investing. Headquartered in Menlo Park, California, Silver Lake has approximately $39 billion in combined assets under management and committed capital. Before joining Silver Lake in 2015, she interned at Goldman Sachs Investment Partners (GSIP), the firm’s $5 billion multi-disciplinary hedge fund. As an advocate for women in finance, Bianca encourages young girls to pursue careers in investing. She graduated from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where she received a bachelor of science degree in economics with concentrations in finance and accounting. Bianca currently serves as Co-Chair of the Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board and the Wharton Alumni Relations Council.
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