Andrea Auerbach: Women in PE, class of 2024

Considered one of the most influential LP consultants in the business, Auerbach sees it all in her perch as partner and head of global private investments at Cambridge Associates.

When Andrea Auerbach started out her career in private equity in the 1990s, there were very few private equity funds with over $1 billion in commitments. Today, that size of fund might be considered relatively small compared with some of the mega-pools raised by large firms.

Auerbach has grown, too. She is considered one of the most influential LP consultants in the business and sees most of the funds and strategic efforts by GPs from her perch as partner and head of global private investments at Cambridge Associates.

“The growth has kept me focused on the industry. There are over six million small businesses in the United States that could be acquired or invested in by a private equity fund. Private equity is constantly evolving, and private markets are very deep and rich,” she explains.

“We have courtside seats to the whole industry”

Auerbach leads a 50-person sourcing and underwriting team for private equity and venture capital funds, along with direct, co-investment and secondaries investments. She’s also taught classes at the ILPA Institute for over a decade and is a sought-after speaker throughout the industry.

“We have courtside seats to the whole industry,” Auerbach says about Cambridge Associates.

Auerbach says one of her proudest accomplishments at Cambridge is its dedication to finding talented emerging managers, having funded at least 100 first-timers.

“Identifying high potential emerging managers, advising them on best practices, investing behind them, and watching them deliver on their potential over multiple funds is immensely rewarding, as is being on the entire journey with them.”

Cambridge itself has had a focus on diversity. A woman recruited Auerbach out of college to join the LBO team at Prudential Insurance. And Sandra Urie was the company’s CEO for 15 years before her recent retirement. “Over half of our executive leadership team is female and diverse. That’s a position of strength when working in the private markets. I’m not particularly daunted by anything on the other side of the table,” Auerbach says.

Cambridge also offers a week-long “mini-internship” program for college students, seeking out people who don’t have a direct line into the industry. Auerbach says this program has helped bring more women into the firm.

“The basic components of what we’re looking for in an investor is a curious mind and a willingness to talk and share a point-of-view. A lot of people think private equity is just about being an investor. But there are also all sorts of compelling roles in operations, strategy, legal, finance, sales, marketing, and more,” Auerbach says. “I really think that’s opened up avenues for women.”