CPP Investments: ‘LPs need to lead by example’

Top tips for incoming female talent in private equity? Be curious and cultivate relationships, says Dasha Nechayevska at CPP Investments.

CPP Investments’ Dasha Nechayevska was named among Private Equity International’s 40 under 40: Future Leaders of Private Equity this year – an annual peer-nominated list that showcases rising stars in the industry. In addition to her role as principal, private equity funds, secondaries and co-investments, Nechayevska is involved in the pension plan’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Here, she tells us more about this work and shares her advice for young women looking to carve their own paths in private equity.

Dasha NechayevskaYou are a founding member of CPP Investments’ London diversity and inclusion group. What does your work here involve?

London’s Women in Finance group is part of a wider network of diversity, equity and inclusion grassroot teams working together to bolster the hiring, retention and promotion of women and minorities. Our work is focused on organising speaker events, panels, training sessions and working with HR and senior management to promote sponsorship, career development and amplification of voices from all communities and backgrounds.

The effort to build an inclusive workplace has three pillars: representation, because inclusion is easy with a homogeneous group of people; inclusion, a call for each one of us to demonstrate inclusive behaviours like empathy, humility and authentic curiosity; and equity, ensuring processes and practices enable all colleagues to do their best work and unlock their professional possibilities.

How can LPs help move the needle on gender diversity in private equity?

First and foremost, LPs need to lead by example. The discussion then shifts from merely asking GPs questions, to promoting best practices and engaging in a conversation that builds shared accountability across the industry.

LPs can also bring more accountability to the conversation with GPs, with a focus on measuring progress made (versus meeting targets) and evaluating whether efforts genuinely recognise the benefits that diversity of thought brings to an organisation.

What tips would you give to young women hoping to build a career in private equity?

Careers are long. Be curious, take risks and don’t be afraid to lean into an opportunity that seems off the beaten path, yet widens the breadth of your toolkit. It will differentiate you and the perspectives you bring to the table over the long run.

Relationships matter. Invest the time to get to know your colleagues, counterparties and market participants. Look to have a mentor or, better still, a sponsor. Do the same for others as you advance in your career.

Deliberately form good habits that promote health and wellness early in your life. This may take a lot of hard work to form at first, but it will be worth every effort.

What has been the most valuable learning over the course of your career thus far?

Not to overthink what the future holds. Eventually it all falls into place. The key is to relish the here and now.