The interview below is part of a new, yearlong effort by McGuireWoods to profile up-and-coming women leaders in private equity (PE). This new profile series complements our existing Women Leaders in Private Equity profile series, which will continue throughout 2019. To recommend a rising star for a future interview, email Amber Walsh at [email protected].
Q: What both attracted you to PE but potentially concerned you about this chosen career path?
Ashley Chang: Having attended a business school for undergrad and then joining an investment bank post-graduation, I saw PE as a natural option and path. I was initially hesitant to make the leap after spending three years in a relentlessly fast-paced and high-stress environment. However, it was important to me to develop as a well-rounded professional, especially early in my career. I ultimately felt PE was a unique opportunity to gain a range of invaluable experiences and skillsets — from strategic to financial to interpersonal — likely unavailable in most other industries.
Q: What is a lesson that you have learned concerning what's required for success in PE?
AC: In a deal-making environment, there are often a lot of different considerations at play. There can be numerous challenges to navigate simultaneously, from financing to macro factors, to employees, to specific industry dynamics. The reality, however, is that some of the considerations are very likely to be outside of your control. Over the course of different transactions, I learned the importance of identifying and only focusing on the things that are most critical and that I can influence. It has been a process of growing comfortable with the fact that spending energy and mindshare on anything else is a far less effective use of time.
Q: What is a goal that you have set for yourself in the coming year?
AC: Having come from extremely structured roles in the past, my responsibilities were always well-defined and natural progressions building on past experiences. Since RTC is a smaller firm, I now have the flexibility to take ownership of completely diverse and sometimes foreign projects. My goal is to push myself to take advantage of these new opportunities and have the confidence that I can figure it out and succeed even if it is something I have never done before.
Q: How do you believe women of your generation will be able to influence in the PE industry, particularly as the career path continues to evolve?
AC: Despite the increased attention and focus on equal opportunity over the recent years, the reality is that as it currently stands, we are only projected to achieve gender parity as a society in two centuries’ time. One of the nice things about PE is that it is a very high-touch industry that requires working with a broad range of stakeholders, including investors, portfolio company teams, investment bankers and advisors. With this equality challenge top of mind, we can help narrow the gap one engagement, one business investment and one executive hire at a time.