Lindsay Burton is an investment banker and managing principal of Kayo Advisory, a Charlottesville, Virginia-based financial services firm catering to micro-cap companies. Burton founded the Kayo Women’s Private Equity Conference nearly three years ago to give female private equity professionals a stronger voice in their field. MMG asked her to run through the details.
MMG: What is the Kayo Conference and how has it grown?
Lindsay Burton: The Kayo Conference Series organizes events for investors, company executives and M&A professionals. As an investment banker focused on the lower middle market, I attend conferences regularly. The scarcity of women speakers is striking and universal. The Kayo Conference Series is trying to shake things up and create unique, targeted speaking and networking opportunities for women in finance and investing. Our flagship event—the Kayo Women’s Private Equity Conference—has grown tremendously over three years. Our third annual event, taking place in October in Washington, D.C., brings together more than 250 leading investors in private equity and venture capital from across the globe.
MMG: You now have a spin-off event—the Women’s Energy Investment Conference—being held in Houston this June. What was the genesis?
LB: Energy is another sector where there continues to be a shortage of women in leadership positions, both at operating companies and in investment roles. Furthermore, energy is an enormous topic, not something you can cover effectively in a 45-minute panel session at a generalist event.
MMG: Were you worried that you’d have a hard time filling seats in what continues to be a male-dominated industry?
LB: Yes, it was a concern. However, I was wrong! We have a dynamo agenda—45 leading energy and power investors, and we expect to sell out. You would be hard-pressed to find a more talented gathering of energy and power investors and executives.
MMG: As your conferences make clear, there is an evident disparity between the numbers of men and women in private equity. Besides conferences such as yours, what needs to happen to attract more women to PE careers?
LB: It’s an issue both of attracting women to the industry and retaining women once they are here. One obvious first step is to increase the pipeline coming from universities. For current PE professionals, go back to your alma mater and speak to young women about the PE industry. Perhaps take an undergraduate intern. Helping young women get educated and excited about investment banking and private equity early in their careers is crucial. //