Caitlin Riederer (MBA ’20) co-chaired the 2018 Women in Investing Summit. Prior to attending HBS, she worked in private equity at Charlesbank Capital Partners and strategy consulting at The Boston Consulting Group. Caitlin received undergraduate degrees with highest honors in Finance and Accountancy from the University of Illinois.

Roughly 200 attendees joined the Fourth Annual Women in Investing Summit on November 29th. It was powerful to be surrounded by a diverse group of women and men who were so passionate about private equity, venture capital, and the public markets. After highlighting the Summit experience on the @hbsadmissions Instagram, here’s the background on how I began investing, my experience at HBS, and career advice from the Summit. 

What made you choose a career in investing?

Taking economics as the 2008 recession unfolded was a literal and figurative crash course in finance. With my curiosity sparked, I found my first internship at a search fund (largely thanks to my Yorkshire Terrier’s networking skills, but that’s another story…)

Over subsequent summer internships, investing felt like a natural fit, sating my intellectual curiosity and nurturing my entrepreneurial spirit. After graduation, I entered strategy consulting to learn how companies run – from developing pricing strategies to winning customers – then joined a middle-market private equity firm, where I focused on the consumer, healthcare and technology sectors.

Through these experiences, I enjoy having the opportunity to invest in people and ideas. From developing investment themes, underwriting deals, and partnering with management, no two days are ever the same.

What led you to HBS?

Earning an MBA appealed to me as an opportunity to expand my knowledge base and learn from a diverse group of peers. At HBS, the case method provides an opportunity to distill work experience and hundreds of cases into one’s own leadership philosophy. HBS also offers distinguished faculty, many of whom have run companies, led investment firms, or held other senior roles. While this is not a surprising fact, it takes on a whole new meaning after answering a cold call from a professor who was a Fortune 500 CEO!

Outside of class, HBS offers many resources to gain perspective on investing, from organizations such as VC/PE club and Women in Investing to the Investment Strategies Competition. I co-chaired the Women in Investing Summit, an annual event engaging HBS alumni, industry professionals and MBA students in discussions about the latest trends in private equity, growth, venture capital, and public markets. According to Preqin, women only hold ~10% of senior roles in alternative assets, making it vital to empower more women to choose investing careers. Lively and enthusiastic conversations abounded at the Summit, which will spark ongoing dialog among the participants.

What advice would you give to women looking to become investors?

Reflecting on the advice that the speakers provided, three themes particularly resonated with me: 

1. Embrace your unique perspective. Being a woman in investing provides an opportunity to offer a different vantage point. Don’t be afraid to take a risk, speak up, and provide candid opinions.

2. Build (and learn from) a diverse network. Beyond events like the Summit, peers, alumni groups and industry organizations (such as the NVCA) provide excellent channels to connect with diverse investors. Even if you don’t have formal investing experience, start by reaching out for advice, reading industry newsletters, signing up for relevant MBA courses, etc. 

3. Advocate for yourself. Proactively ask for feedback, build your own brand, and enlist strong mentors and sponsors.

Hopefully, the Summit provided a glimpse into how HBS educates leaders who make a difference in the world. Personally, I’m excited to see the impact that this dynamic cohort of women has on the alternative asset industry now and in years to come.