Black Professionals in Private Equity & Finance – Dealmaker Spotlight: Omar Stevens

The post-obit series features interviews with Black dealmakers and trailblazers in the individual equity and finance community. To assistance us spotlight professionals making a difference in their career pathways, delight email Greg Kilpatrick at
[email protected]

and Gerald Thomas at

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Joshua Griffin

Q: What attracted you to PE?

Joshua Griffin:

As far back as I can recall, I take really enjoyed dealmaking. Thinking back to my early childhood days of playing the classic Monopoly board game or collecting trading cards, I have e’er found it fun to creatively come with deals that would allow me to go what I was after while also making the person reverse the transaction feel they received something of equal if non greater value in return. In many ways, PE affords professionals the opportunity to go along to leverage these and other skills in a much higher-stakes environment.

Postal service-undergrad, I started my career as a commercial broker and often found myself financing buyouts. I did not have a swell sense for what I would be doing prior to this position, only I knew I would make a decent living and would develop accounting and finance skills that I could leverage afterwards should I determine to practise something else. This something else would come up a few years later.

After gaining credit-analysis skills, I decided to pursue an MBA, and subsequently, a career in investment banking. Having sabbatum in rooms with my merger and acquisition (M&A) counterparts for well-nigh three years, I realized these individuals were leading the charge and crafting artistic narratives around transactions that excited shareholders and markets more broadly. Or then I thought.

A few months into my render to Wall Street in my new role as an M&A associate, I quickly realized that nosotros worked for the PE firms. This fast-paced environment created a peachy learning ground every bit I executed many deals in a short period of time, building models and herding sellers and bidders alike through multiple sell-side and buy-side engagements. However, I also worked on or proposed a peachy deal more transactions that never closed or made it beyond the pages of the pitch deck. It was often the PE investors who had the final say. They crafted and owned the thesis and had to deal with integration and operations well beyond the date a deal closed. I ultimately decided that there was where I preferred to exist.

Q: Why is it of import for more than Black professionals to pursue careers in PE?


It is important for more Black professionals to pursue careers in PE for a number of reasons. For one, the PE industry creates a massive amount of wealth. Without participation, the Blackness community risks falling further backside in creating wealth, which ultimately leads to decision-making ability in a broader sense.

PE creates wealth for individuals in a few means. Professionals who work in the industry receive relatively loftier salaries and bonuses and participate in the equity appreciation of the funds at the virtually senior levels. There are too individuals who invest in these funds and who may or may not work in PE. Unfortunately, the “private” in PE often limits all but those who have already amassed a great bargain of wealth from participating in investing, so for many, working in the industry is the best style to proceeds access.

While many other reasons exist, the concluding reason I will mention is that representation is very important for the next generation of Black business leaders. Having mentors and examples to follow while the next leaders blaze their own paths will be an important part of increasing the number of Black professionals in the manufacture.

Q: What do you recollect is the biggest challenge facing Blackness entrepreneurs? What advice would you lot provide to overcome information technology?


I think the biggest challenge facing Black entrepreneurs is a lack of relationships. In business, relationships are key, and the more time y’all spend in this arena, the more axiomatic that becomes. Business professionals enjoy working with people they like. This frequently means they have shared experiences, whether through common educational institutions, hobbies or interests. This has a meaningful touch on in a highly subjective environment where millions of dollars in fees or preferential access to limited avails and resources are up for grabs.

The same can exist said for admission to capital. It is human nature to find comfort in things people notice familiar. Black professionals often lack those shared experiences. So information technology is important that nosotros increasingly seek opportunities to gain exposure to things we may notice unfamiliar. This could be traveling to a lesser-traveled destination, experiencing a new genre of music or movies, trying different cuisines and participating in different sports. These shared experiences can serve as conversation starters and atomic number 82 to meaningful professional and personal relationships.

Q: Who is an case of someone who inspired you in PE and why?


My father-in-police force gave me a volume a while back titled
Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?
The book, which was previously unknown to me, chronicled the life and business pursuits of Reginald Lewis, who is credited as the start Black American to build a billion-dollar business concern. Lewis graduated from Harvard Law at a fourth dimension when it was even more uncommon than at present to practice then.

Immediately following law schoolhouse, Lewis worked as an attorney at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He would get out the firm after only two years to open up his ain constabulary house, where he practiced successfully for a number of years before trying his hand at investing. His commencement big break came with the acquisition of the McCall Pattern Company, a home textile business organisation he acquired for almost $20 million using merely $1 million of his own money. He turned the and then-declining business around by repurposing the company’s machinery to brand greeting cards during its reanimation.

Soon after his initial purchase and turnaround, Lewis would sell McCall for $xc million, the vast majority of which he was entitled to. He would afterward proceed to purchase Beatrice International Foods for $985 million, and information technology would report revenue of $ane.8 billion. This made it the start Black-endemic business with more than than $1 billion in sales.

Beyond his business pursuits, Lewis was a determined human being who rarely took no for an answer. He creatively plant ways around roadblocks and kept his centre on his larger goal even while working for others, realizing the work would one day enable him to accomplish what he ultimately aspired to do. Lewis was extremely philanthropic, having donated millions of dollars to scholarship funds, educational institutions, museums and other worthy causes. Lewis, who was known to be peppery in his pursuits at times, was a savvy businessman who often plant a way when others institute excuses. I highly recommend all immature dealmakers give this book a read.

Almost Joshua Griffin

Joshua Griffin joined Webster Equity Partners as a senior associate in 2021. Prior to joining Webster, he was a vice president at Greenhill & Co., where he advised healthcare clients on a range of purchase-side and sell-side transactions. Prior to joining Greenhill, Griffin worked at Cain Brothers, where he advised centre-market healthcare companies on a range of M&A-related engagements.

Griffin was educated at Temple University and NYU Stern School of Business.


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