What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role?
Sebastien Siou: Being at a fast-growing organization, I get the unique opportunity to help build a firm within a firm. This multi-faceted role is challenging, engaging and highly rewarding, both professionally and personally.
Katie Stitch: Mentoring professionals and developing teams is incredibly rewarding. I am humbled by those who have taken an interest in me over the years. Sharing their sage advice with others, I reflect on those relationships with added appreciation.
Andrew Gulotta: In the GP-led secondaries world, there really is not a cookie-cutter transaction, so finding the optimal solution for the unique situation is the most rewarding and challenging aspect of my role.
Nicholas Cassin: The growth of the secondaries industry over the last few years, combined with the longstanding capabilities of Kirkland, has led to many opportunities to advise on cutting-edge transactions. Particularly rewarding are the long-lasting relationships I have formed with clients as they continue to expand in the industry while contributing to the development of our global secondaries practice.
Sebastien Siou, senior principal, Whitehorse Liquidity Partners, 2018 Young Gun
Siou was selected for the list because of his work at CPPIB leading the pension’s participation in the Lee Equity staple, which involved recapitalizing its $1.2 billion debt fund, and for driving one of the largest GP-led transactions to come out of South America, the $950 million Enfoca deal.
What is the most valuable career lesson you have learned?
SS: Nurture your relationships. Always approach situations with a win-win mindset for all parties. You can be a good person and win.
KS: Be nice to everyone! Secondary deals are often not winner-take-all and, for the best opportunities, [participants] will have their choice of parties to work with. Being known as someone who is constructive and goes out of their way to help others may be the difference between someone making the call or not.
AG: Failure is an opportunity to learn. Improvement is an ongoing process. Maintain that personal mindset even when frustrated and deterred.
NC: Always take a step back and think about the bigger picture, remembering to constantly consider the ultimate goals of the client, transaction or task at hand. Also, setting clear, realistic, and achievable expectations is only half the battle; managing these expectations requires transparency and frequent communication.
Katie Stitch, managing director, W Capital Partners, 2017 Young Gun
Over the past 14 years, Stitch has made a name for herself through her creativity and ability to craft sophisticated, bespoke secondaries solutions for her clients.
How has your work life changed during the covid-19 crisis?
SS: Connectivity has increased in frequency. Focusing on relationships, supporting one another as human beings, and staying connected (even if it is virtually!) has never been more important in helping to navigate these unprecedented times. What keeps me motivated are the people I work with: their passion, hard work and can-do attitude.
NC: While the overall lifestyle adjustment of the pandemic has posed unique challenges, the unwavering dedication and perseverance of my wife, who currently works as a nurse anesthetist at Mount Sinai West in Manhattan, and that of the many other front-line workers, has been a huge inspiration to me and continues to keep me motivated. From a professional perspective, although the market has slowed, the deals undertaken by clients during the crisis have been of high strategic importance and have tended to be even more bespoke than in normal times.
Andrew Gulotta, managing director, Sixpoint Partners, 2018 Young Gun
Gulotta has worked at Sixpoint for the past 11 years, where he now helps to lead the secondaries advisory business and plays an essential role in the firm’s broader origination activities.
Any advice for those new to the market?
SS: Focus on intellectual compensation, embrace change with an open mind in this dynamic industry and, last but not least, surround yourself with great mentors.
KS: Network – and hopefully it doesn’t feel like work! It’s obviously important for collaboration and sourcing but when seeking to coalesce a broad set of datapoints to inform an underwriting view, drawing on a wide, diverse network is a huge advantage.
AG: It is a fantastic segment within finance. While it is clearly a niche compared to M&A, it is cutting-edge and interesting.
NC: Any attorney with an interest in fund formation or corporate transactional work should consider secondaries transactions. The rapidly evolving nature of the market, combined with the problem solving and strategic thinking it entails, makes for some fascinating work.
Nicholas Cassin, corporate partner, Kirkland & Ellis (Investment Funds Group), 2018 Young Gun
In his 11 years at Kirkland & Ellis, Cassin has gained deep respect from his peers through his work on buyside and sellside secondaries transactions.
How would you like to see the market evolve?
KS: The recent trajectory and growth opportunity of the GP-led market excites me. In this environment, some may rethink their portfolio composition and lean away from more concentrated opportunities. It will open up more opportunity for dedicated players and new entrants.
AG: I’d like to see continuation funds used more proactively as an accepted and expected wind-down plan for funds approaching end of life. There should be built-in exit ramps for LPs. We already see single-asset deals serve as an alternative to an M&A sale – I think that will continue.
What would you like those outside of the market to know, or better understand, about secondaries?
SS: I like to think of secondaries as the innovators within an otherwise mature asset class. Change, creativity and innovation are constants in this industry.
KS: Secondaries investing in 2020 is much more than buying LP stakes at a discount. The lines between primary investing, secondary investing and credit investing are blurring, which opens up multiple paths to partnership with sponsors.
AG: At its core, we are merely providing liquidity for inherently illiquid assets. But we do it in the context of a GP/LP construct, where you must take duration, new capital and alignment into account.
NC: The essence of the secondaries market is to provide a solution to one of the shortcomings of the private funds market: illiquidity. This solution-oriented focus is pervasive across the industry and has led to innovative structures and creative tools.
Help select this year’s Young Guns
Sister publication Secondaries Investor publishes its Young Guns list every year. Let us know who deserves to be recognized in its annual ranking
The results will be published online and in September’s secondaries special edition of Private Equity International. Our criteria are:
■ Candidates must be 35 years or younger on January 1, 2020
■ Candidates must not have previously been a Young Gun
■ If you are nominating someone from your own firm, you must also nominate a candidate from another firm
■ Nominees must be outstanding in their field and entries must outline how the candidate has made overwhelming contributions to secondaries
■ Nominations for multiple candidates at the same firm are welcome, but a maximum of one finalist per firm will be selected
■ The Young Guns will be chosen by a panel of Secondaries Investor and PEI editorial staff
Email firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm Eastern Time on Friday, June 19 with details of the person’s contributions to the market.