5 Questions With Member at KKR Global Investment Firm Amy Lesch
Five Questions with Amy Lesch, Member at KKR Global Investment Firm
By Chloe Cornell
Amy Lesch is a member of the Client and Partner Group at Global Investment powerhouse firm KKR, a leading global investment firm that manages multiple alternative asset classes, including private equity, energy, infrastructure, real estate and credit, with strategic partners that manage hedge funds. Amy has worked on Wall Street for 26 years, working directly with investors and the consultant community. In our conversation, Amy admits that being a woman on Wall Street was not particularly common when she started out in her career, but she is proud to report that the environment is changing and that Wall Street can be an exciting career choice for women today.
Amy joined KKR in New York in 2009 and leads the North American relationship management team and is Global Head of Consultant Relations. In this role, Amy is closely involved with fundraising, investor relations, and consultant relations across the Firm.
Prior to joining KKR, Amy was a managing director and global head of consultant relations for Citi Capital Advisors (formerly Citi Alternative Investments). She also worked at Deutsche Asset Management and State Street Global Advisors.
Amy received a B.S. from the University of Rochester and a J.D. from New England School of Law. She sits on several advisory boards, including the Sloan Hospital for Women, University of Rochester National Council and Girls Who Invest. Amy also sits on the board of WIN (Women In Need), the largest provider of shelter for homeless families in New York City. She has two children in high school.
I was particularly happy to talk with Amy about her financial career to get some insight into the notoriously male-dominated world of Wall Street and hear about the opportunities for women today.
Chloe: How did you start in private equity? What inspired you to pursue this career?
Amy: When I graduated college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Finance seemed very interesting to me given the dynamics of the markets are always changing. I’ve now been working on Wall Street for over 26 years and still find asset management extremely interesting, especially with Private Equity. I like the idea of buying good companies, and working to make them better.
Chloe: A big conversation today is how few women are able to rise to the top in the corporate world, especially on Wall Street. Can you talk about your experience – if you had any obstacles – and if you see any changes in your industry?
Amy: When I started in the industry there were very few women, especially senior women, to look up to. I remember when I was pregnant with my first child thinking to myself, “now they will know I am a woman”. I often felt alone in a room full of men and was actually afraid to let them know I was having a baby. However, today, I have a great cohort of senior women across the industry to look to for guidance and advice. Firms are putting policies in place that make it easier to work and have a family – which is good for both mom’s and dad’s. In addition, we are working hard to get more young women exposure to the industry early on and to let them know it is a field where women can succeed.
Chloe: You serve on the advisory boards of Girls Who Invest and Women In Need (WIN). Can you talk about the opportunities you get from your position outside of your day-to-day career?
Amy: I feel blessed to work with such amazing organizations that help women and families in different ways. I think it is really important to give back to the communities and people where we live and work. Girls Who Invest is dedicated to increasing the number of women in the asset management industry by working with college interns. WIN is the largest provider of family shelter and supportive housing in NYC. I sit on their Finance Committee which allows me to marry my work experience with my desire to help families in need. Both boards are extremely rewarding to be a part of.
Chloe: What advice would you give to young women pursuing a career in private equity? What skills, experience, or personality traits are valuable?
Amy: I would advise one to do all the typical things like work hard and do the best you can in school but I would also say, keep gaining experiences and friendships. These give you unique insight and perspectives that can help you relate to people and build relationships. In the end, what I do is a “people business” and people do business with those they “like and trust” (as my firm’s founders like to say).
Chloe: What needs to happen to narrow the gender gap for women on Wall Street? What are some aspects about your field that you think are positive for women?
Amy: I believe now is a great time for women in finance. It’s been proven that more diverse teams make better decisions and we need more women at all levels. We also have more men than ever aware and committed to change. I think it’s an exciting time to be a woman on Wall Street and look forward to seeing the success of other women who have chosen this field.