Whilst evidence suggests that gender diversity in the UK PE industry is increasing, it is clear that there is still a long way to go, as discussed in our Private Equity – DE&I in Focus report.
Sophie Randles, Livingston James Director catches up with April Bingham, Head of Corporate at Bellwether Green in the next instalment of our ‘No Diversity No Deal’ interview series, addressing diversity in the Scottish PE and VC sector.
What first attracted you to work in Private Equity (PE)/Deals community?
When choosing a career in law, I wanted to specifically be a corporate lawyer right from the get-go. I loved the prospect of being involved in deals and fortunately, it’s as enjoyable and gratifying as I’d hoped. Less fortunately, it is less glamorous than I’d hoped!
How long have you been in your current role and what was your career path to get there?
I co-founded BG as Head of Corporate in 2008.
I trained at a medium size firm, Boyds Solicitors. I was lucky to get extra time in the corporate department while training and qualified into their corporate team in 2003. That firm merged into the much larger HBJ Gately Wareing (now Addleshaw Goddard), where I gained more experience in PE work. I’ve had various roles on committees and boards over the years but decided to reign in these ‘extracurricular’ roles when my third child came along.
How does your organisation promote diversity, particularly relating to women in the PE/Deals industry?
As a female leader with three children, I understand the challenges of balancing a hard-won career with motherhood. We’ve had more female than male fee earners in our firm from day one and as the firm has matured, many of our ‘original cast’ members and joiners have had families which has meant we’ve had to look at more flexible ways of working.
Discussing diversity, what has worked in your organisation and how can it be developed?
I think our approach is to have a diverse range of solutions, recognising that one size doesn’t fit all. We’ve tried, as an organisation to be open to exploring opportunities and appointments with differing facets.
What value can be created from having a diverse workforce?
For me, a team needs diversity and cohesion, so while the many benefits of a diverse group of thoughts and experiences can be beneficial for client work, harnessing that mix of talent into a slick, seamless experience from a client service point of view can be more challenging.
I think that being a good adviser involves many qualities; some stereotypically associated with for example, men, women, age and youth. I believe that when identified, most desirable qualities for an adviser can be nurtured in most people if they are willing.
What advice would you give to other women interested in a career in Private Equity?
I think that resilience and tenacity is key. People in the Private Equity space are fairly good at creating mystique around what they do. It can seem, to those trying to break in, quite impenetrable. I’d encourage steadfastness, warmth and openness from those already involved in PE. I always remember those who have helped me and would want to be one of those people for someone else.
To find out more about our No Diversity, No Deal series; or for a confidential discussion about your PE and VC executive search requirements, contact [email protected].