“You have to be the smartest in the room, you have to have the brightest ideas.” – Gwyneth Ketterer

A new edition of Startup Grind Buenos Aires is around the corner. This time, the global startup community will be hosting Gwyneth Ketterer, Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia Business School, COO of Irving Place Capital and one of the members of the boards of Women’s Association of Venture and Equity (WAVE) and University Women’s Club of Argentina. Before the event takes place, NXTP Labs talks with her and gets to know more about how she entered the business and the role women have today in Wall Street. She emphasizes, “Go were the men are”.

Post by Lindsey O’Dell, NXTP labs

How did you become interested in Finance?

My dad was a professor in Electrical Engineering, he was a scientist, and his view was that people don’t do business, they do something humanitarian and then they read Barron’s on Sunday and make investments. I was fascinated because I didn’t understand what Wall Street was, and I thought: “Well, why can’t I figure this out?”. I got a degree and, to be honest with you, all the guys were going to Wall Street to try and get these jobs on Wall Street. I was competitive too and I said: “Ok, I’m gonna go and do that too”. You get hooked, Wall Street is like a drug: the pace, It’s another language, the pressure, the stress. It’s addictive, frankly.

Where you often the only women on these teams?


Did you ever walk into a meeting and say: “Okay, I have to prove myself first thing”?

Absolutely. You have to be the smartest in the room, and you have to have the brightest ideas. You have to somehow muscle up the confidence to speak your mind, have courage and work harder than anybody else. You never play the female, you never cry, you try to never show emotion.

It seems that Private Equity was very political. How did you find a mentor?

I only had one, my Head in Europe. He was the only man that I ever knew in Wall Street that was confident enough with himself and his own brain power to hire the smartest people around him, and he knew that women worked harder. So, for a few years I did have somebody, but that was it.

Is that why you decided to teach for Columbia Business School?

I had gone to Columbia and had lunch with someone one day. And this person asked: “Would you consider teaching?”. I said: “I don’t know”. I was very flattered. It was my chance to prove to myself I could be like my dad. The truth, it was more work than any project I’ve worked on in Wall Street, teaching and designing the first course in private equity.

Did you find that teaching was a good opportunity for you to act as a mentor?

It was. In fact, the reason I decided to design a class in private equity and teach it was so that students that didn’t know what it was could know about it. The course wasn’t geared for the guy who had worked on Wall Street, it was geared for everybody else who doesn’t understand how investment or private equity or venture impacts everybody’s life: whether it’s the shirt that you’re wearing or you’re an accountant, a lawyer or you’re in an industry and your company gets bought. It’ll touch everybody. You have to understand it, so that’s why I designed the course. I think I helped encourage a lot of people to enter and think about the industry.

How would you encourage women to find their mentors?

You have to find somebody that’s confident and comfortable with who they are and what they have achieved. They’re going to be the best mentors. You have to be careful: when we talk about mentor, we think about somebody that will take you under their wing and help you develop and grow and all of that. That’s a big undertaking for anybody. To find one person that’s going to do all that, it’s kind of an awesome thing. I’d encourage people to limit the expectations they have and take something small from more people than looking for the one silver bullet.

What advice would you give investors in terms of investing in men vs women?

I think that the beauty of investing in women is that women are much more capable, smarter, they can multitask, and I think what’s particularly valuable about women is that women, especially women that have kids, have better psychological insight into people. Today, the biggest impact on success in private equity on venture is the person and I think women are better tailored, psychologically, to evaluate people.

You ask me the skill that my male partners lack: people sense. They had excellent financial skills, due diligence, legal etc, but when it came to looking that guy in the eye and knowing whether or not he could actually deliver on what he was saying, I don’t think they had as good of feel, and that’s the skill. That’s certainly the skill here, it’s the person. Forget the idea, these guys invest in whatever, but it almost doesn’t matter if you’ve got the right person.

What would your advice be to women in business?

Don’t ever go into a nonprofit center, don’t go into HR or back office or all those things they think women should go into. Find the area where there’s only men, and that’s where all the money is and that’s where you want to be.

To attend the next Startup Grind Buenos Aires on May 19th, click here.

Biography of Interviewee: Gwyneth Ketterer is a Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia Business School, where she created and teaches a course in the fundamentals of private equity. Most recently, Ms. Ketterer was Chief Operating Officer and co-founding Partner of Irving Place Capital (“IPC”), which formerly was Bear Stearns Merchant Banking (“BSMB”). Prior to BSMB, Ms. Ketterer served as Senior Vice President of the Merchant Banking Division of Lehman Brothers Inc. and a member of Lehman Brothers’ Investment Screening Committee. Ms. Ketterer currently resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina with her two children.


Comparte el manifiesto