Enduring the Global Financial Crisis is often considered a badge of honour for private equity executives.

Those included in the latest PEI Future 40 – a list of individuals under 40 set to shape the asset class over the next decade – may well view 2020 through the same lens.

When we began working on this year’s class, the pandemic was only just starting to take hold. The process involved asking industry sounding boards, as well as firms, investors and advisors, to recommend those showing innovation or an X factor marking them as potential future leaders. Firms could only put forward their own staff provided they also include someone at another firm.

Applications weren’t hindered by coronavirus; quite the opposite. We received more than 200 formal nominations this year, up from 130 in 2019, and dozens more recommendations from senior industry sources. PEI’s senior editorial team then had the tough job of whittling the list down to just 40.

This year’s contingent includes a 39-year-old chief investment officer for private markets at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority; a 32-year-old global head of impact at The Carlyle Group; and a 30-year-old partner at law firm Sidley Austin.

The past 12 months could be considered a trial by fire for these young executives, who will emerge more experienced because of the unique challenges they have faced.

So what next for the class of 2020? While dealmakers in Asia have been preternaturally active during the pandemic, many of their peers in the West will be champing at the bit to deploy capital at scale in 2021. Fundraisers at large institutions will have found the process significantly smoother than those at less established firms, who may continue to struggle until travel is relaxed. Meanwhile, secondaries lawyers can expect a wave of complex transactions in the New Year.

And though vaccines are now being deployed, the pandemic is far from over. The class of 2021 will no doubt be shaped by the events of this year and feature those who’ve demonstrated unusual dexterity, cool or ingenuity during the crisis. With that in mind, start considering who deserves to make next year’s list.

Future 40: Class of 2020