The most influential women of 2022: Story of the Year

PEI Group’s Women of Influence list showcases the women in private markets who are championing diversity, innovation and best-in-class operations across their alternatives portfolios.

Launched in 2021, PEI Group’s Women of Influence in Private Markets list has already become a hotly contested feature of alternative assets.

Designed to identify the women who are blazing the brightest trails across the industry, the list received more than 600 nominations across six categories – private equity, private debt, infrastructure, real estate, venture capital and cross-asset class – last year. The list seeks to recognise the myriad ways women demonstrate excellence in private markets, offering them a unique platform where their achievements across the past 12 months can receive the spotlight they deserve.

The Women of Influence list also received its own plaudits: in the Aviva Investors Sustainability Media Awards 2021, it received a highly commended accolade in the best editorial campaign category.

In order to identify the class of 2022, nominations were called from readers and industry executives alike. Editorial teams from across several PEI Group publications – Private Equity International, Private Debt Investor, Infrastructure Investor, PERE and Venture Capital Journal – were then tasked with whittling down the mammoth list to only 10 per category.

The 2022 list was released at a time where many would argue that things have never been better for women in private markets. The numbers, however, show there is still some way to go: Level 20’s European gender diversity report 2022, released in August, noted that across Europe, the proportion of women working in senior investment roles within private markets stands at an average of 10 percent. Of all the countries surveyed, just four had an average above that figure, while only one – Ireland – surpassed Level 20’s goal of 20 percent.

Still, there are reasons to be positive: the report also found that women represent 34 percent of junior-level investment professionals, indicating that diversity levels could rise as they move through the ranks. The potential for advancement is clearly there – and so too is a cohort of women who, in spite of these overarching limitations, have already fought their way to the top of the private markets ladder.

Private equity’s list of achievers includes a director of equity funds at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, who has overseen the doubling of the bank’s portfolio during her leadership; the founding partner and chief executive of Horizon Capital, a Kyiv-based private equity firm that has continued fundraising and supporting its portfolio companies even amid the invasion of Ukraine; and a KKR partner who was described by her nominators as a “tireless” champion of DE&I in private equity.

In a traditionally male-dominated industry, it is increasingly important to highlight and promote the work of women. Of course, PEI’s hope is that one day, such lists will no longer be required to ensure the fair and equal representation of individuals’ achievements. We are not quite there yet – but judging by the number and calibre of nominations we receive each year, we have reason to hope we’re not too far off.