The Future 40 give their advice for industry newcomers

This year’s Future 40 offer their advice for someone who is new to the private equity industry or considering a career in their field

Future 40 panel

Eric Deyle, Managing Director and Co-Head of Private Equity at Eaton Partners

David Fox, Managing Director at Blackstone Strategic Partners

Emily Brown, Partner at Schulte Roth & Zabel

Gaël Le Clec’h, Head of Private Equity at CNP Assurances

Yup Kim, Senior Portfolio Manager, Private Equity and Special Opportunities at the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation

Michelle Tong, Partner at Sidley Austin

Fokke Lucas, Managing Director at 17Capital

What advice do you have for someone new to the industry or considering a career in your field?

Gael le clech
Gaël Le Clec’h: ‘Never feel stupid asking questions when you don’t understand something’

Yup Kim: Stay curious – be a voracious reader. Investing well goes beyond understanding financial accounting and following markets. Equally important is understanding geopolitics, legal and judicial frameworks, economic history, demographic trends, biological sciences, evolving business models, disruptive technologies and connecting all the dots. Stay humble and treat everyone with respect – institutional investing is a people business and emotional intelligence is essential. Be patient, don’t overreact to market noise and don’t get emotionally tied. Love what you do.

Gaël Le Clec’h: I think the most important thing is to remain curious. Read all the time, read actively. And never feel stupid asking questions when you don’t understand something.

Eric Deyle: Listen, be curious and have empathy.

Eric Deyle
Eric Deyle: ‘Listen, be curious and have empathy’

David Fox: I am a strong believer that everyone should enter a field that they genuinely enjoy. You’re much more likely to succeed if you are passionate about your work. In private equity specifically, deals often take a long time to come to fruition so you need to have a long-term mentality.

Michelle Tong: It’s easy as a junior associate to focus only on the specific task you’ve been assigned. Try to keep an eye on the big picture and understand the commercial drivers that your client cares about.

Emily Brown: Take an interest in the interpersonal side of your job as early as possible. Early in your career it is all about working with documents, be they contracts, spreadsheets or whatever. As you progress it becomes more about working with people, and the contacts you make, friendships you make and your ability to deal with other people and command their respect are critical. Start to work on your soft skills from day one. If you don’t, by the time you need them it may be too late.

Fokke Lucas: Focus on what is possible or what might be possible, be creative. Find an angle on how you can service clients, even if they don’t know what they are looking for. At 17Capital we have developed, and continue to develop our offering to GPs, LPs and management companies, by thinking out of the box, focusing on how we can adapt our product to fit market needs and opportunities whilst providing the same risk/return profile to our investors.

Read more from the Future 40 panel: The rewards and challenges of their roles; the most valuable career lessons they have learned; what they would like those outside of the industry to better understand about PE.