Louise Haslehurst, investment director with Quadrant Private Equity, was fortunate to kick start her career while she was studying a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in accounting and finance at the University of New South Wales.
“I was one of the UNSW’s Cooperative Scholarship students, which meant I undertook a number of work experience placements during my degree. I undertook placements with Deloitte in their audit team, with Channel Nine in their finance team and within the corporate advisory team of WHK Crowe Horwath.
“My last placement was instrumental in leading me to a career in transactions. I gained a lot of experience across valuations, modelling, M&A and general growth strategies. This confirmed my desire to pursue a career helping businesses grow, both organically and inorganically. I took a graduate position at EY within the transaction due diligence teamfor around four years, before moving to Gresham Advisory Partners within the corporate advisory team, which enabled me to see more of the transaction life cycle. I had many private equity clients at EY and Gresham before I moved to Quadrant in 2019 specifically focused on its growth fund.”
A turning point came at the end of her time at EY, where she was compelled to move to M&A.
“The other sliding door moment was my first transaction at Gresham in 2013. I was advising Michael Crouch AO, the founder and major shareholder of Zip Industries. He was looking for a partner to take the business to the next stage of growth and ultimately chose Quadrant, who acquired a majority shareholding. The deal had all the ingredients for me for the next 10 years of my career.”
Louise says mentors have been instrumental in supporting her career journey. “I’ll take all the help I can get from those that have been through it before and had very successful careers. I can learn from how they've navigated certain opportunities, but also challenges. Sponsors have also been key to my career progression”.
“This is about building a strong relationship firm with someone who has your back, but you've got theirs as well. They're advocating for you in the workplace, challenging your progress and bringing you back on track when you misstep. Finding one or two key Sponsors in each role has been fundamental to my progression and I'd encourage everyone to cultivate that combination of Mentorship as well as Sponsorship.”
When it comes to diversity in the workplace, Louise says it’s all about creating a team and culture that encourages diverse thought around the table or at the workplace. “There’s a lot of research that shows having diverse perspectives and management teams is more likely to generate superior returns. It usually comes down to greater innovation and better problem solving, which is really important for any business. Ultimately, businesses are delivering a product and service to a very diverse end market. You need people internally who can problem solve to make sure your products and services are relevant and effective for your end market.”
She notes a focus on diversity can also mean better employee engagement and team morale. “This also helps businesses to outperform relative to the market.”
Louise says the first step to increase diversity within a business is to broaden the pool of candidates. “Then it’s about retaining a diverse team. The Australian Investment Council is helping provide members of the private capital industry with the tools and resources to incorporate diversity into their organisations. We also have a strong mentorship program to help support diverse talent as they progress through their careers.”
She says leadership is essential to achieving true diversity. “Culture is led from the top, demonstrating that diversity, equity and inclusion is important. There's also an opportunity for our senior leaders to collaborate and challenge their peers at different stages of the diversity and inclusion journey.”