Podcast: Women @ RopesTalk: Conversation with Tricia Glynn, Advent International
In this episode of Women @ RopesTalk, hosted by intellectual property transactions partner Megan Baca, private equity transactions partner and Women’s Forum co-chair Amanda McGrady Morrison interviews Tricia Glynn, managing director at Advent International. Tricia looks back on her career in private equity, starting with an internship at Goldman Sachs, a move to Bain Capital, and finally her arrival at Advent International, where she has been since 2016. As co-leader of Advent’s work around diversity, equity and inclusion, Tricia talks about the ways Advent fosters inclusion for all. Tricia also offers her advice for those starting out in the industry, and reflects on how her life priorities have shifted over time.
Megan Baca: Welcome, and thank you for joining us on our latest installment of Women @ RopesTalk, a podcast series brought to you by the Women's Forum at Ropes & Gray. In this podcast, we spotlight extraordinary women who have had successful careers and interesting lives, and are also making a positive impact in their workplaces and in their communities. We feature women attorneys at Ropes & Gray in conversation with prominent women clients, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and others, about their careers and what's led to their successes, the challenges they’ve faced, and the hard-earned wisdom they've acquired. I’m Megan Baca, a partner at Ropes & Gray with a practice focusing on intellectual property and technology transactions, and I’m based in Silicon Valley. On this episode, I’m thrilled to be joined by my colleague, Amanda Morrison, who is co-chair of Ropes & Gray’s Women’s Forum, and is based in Boston. Amanda, welcome. Would you mind introducing yourself and sharing a little bit about your practice at Ropes?
Megan Baca: Amanda, I always love getting a chance to work with you on deals on technology and IP transactions-related deals. It's a lot of fun. So who is the special guest you'll be interviewing on this episode today?
Amanda Morrison: I will be interviewing Tricia Glynn, who is a managing director at Advent International, a leading global private equity firm.
Megan Baca: How did you and Tricia meet and start working together?
Amanda Morrison: I've known Tricia for many years. We most recently worked together on Advent's acquisition of Olaplex, a prestige and professional hair care brand. Tricia is also very involved in Advent's diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. And as co-chair of the Women's Forum at Ropes & Gray, we often find ourselves chatting about ideas and topics and sharing ways that we might work together to enhance the advancement of women in our respective professions.
Megan Baca: Well, that answers my next question – I was going to ask you what inspired you to invite her to the podcast. But she sounds fantastic. I'm excited to hear you guys connect. What would you say is the most notable about Tricia's career that stands out to you?
Amanda Morrison: Tricia has an impressive track record. She is a really fantastic investor. And on top of that, she builds broad-based teams with different perspectives, and that's something she really values. In addition, as I think you'll hear on this podcast, she has great advice on developing mentorship and sponsorship relationships and the difference between the two.
Megan Baca: That's fantastic. With that, I am excited to turn it over to you and Tricia for the conversation.
Amanda Morrison: Thanks very much, Megan. Trish, would you introduce yourself to our listeners?
Amanda Morrison: Thanks for that overview, Trish. It would be great to hear more about your background, and your career trajectory. I'm sure many of our listeners would be interested to hear what drew you to private equity.
Tricia Glynn: I'm from Massachusetts—I grew up on the South Shore in Plymouth, MA. My mother taught science in my public high school, and my father ran a small commercial printing business, which had good years when I was younger, and some tough years, obviously, given all of the digitalization of the world over the last 40 years. I was a science major—my parents joke that I switched from being in my mom's lane to my dad's lane after I graduated. I went to Harvard College. I felt incredibly lucky to go – my mother pushed me really hard to apply. And I came to Harvard to do a biochemistry degree, and for years that's what I did. I believed I would do a PhD, but during my sophomore and junior summers I had some jobs that just got me, frankly, out of the lab. I realized that what I was missing in science—I loved the analytics of it—but I was missing people interaction. I was always a people person. It's a big piece of my investment career now. The other job I had before private equity was waiting tables, and I loved that too. I loved being a waitress. I loved meeting new people all the time. And, so, junior summer I decided perhaps my career was not going to be hardcore science in a lab, but maybe it would be the business-side of biotech.
I decided to go to Wall Street for one summer, and I ended up getting placed into the private equity group at Goldman. At that point, the Goldman Sachs private equity group was, I think there were 22 of us investing. We had $14 billion under management. We were investing in funds. We were investing directly into companies. We were this cool, incredibly creative group. And we invested at a very quick pace. And, so, I literally got to invest across all sectors, all geographies, everything from carving private equity firms out of conglomerates—so Wayzata Partners, which is here in Boston, we carved out of Cargill—to buying portfolios of companies, and putting a fund manager, so making a synthetic private equity fund. But if there was a transaction type that we dreamed up, we were working on it. Long story short, I spent my summer there, and just got hooked. I went back full time after graduating, and used my science degree to some amount, because we had a billion dollars in a biotech fund where I got to play. But I really just loved the investing itself, the pace of it, the analytics of it, and the people—using nuance, and just learning these skills. And, so, I did that for a couple years.
I then really wanted to get closer to companies and how they really ran. And, so, I left Goldman Sachs and I went to Bain Capital private equity. In 2004 when I joined Bain Capital, they had been the first private equity firm at scale to have a portfolio group that worked with companies to drive change. We were incredibly well known for really partnering with companies and understanding the operation. I thought of that as a way to take the investing toolkit I had, but add on both the consulting, and, frankly, some of the banking toolkits, and work really hard, and get deeper into my craft. And, so, I did that at Bain Capital. I was the only woman on the investment team when I started. There had been women before—it just happened to be the case at the time that I was the only one. But I worked for two years as an associate. I got sponsored through school and then came back and worked for eight more years at Bain Capital after graduating business school. At the beginning, I was a generalist across sectors, but pretty quickly I started focusing in the retail consumer sector and ended up being one of the leaders of that group for a number of years before I left.
In 2016, I left Bain Capital to come to Advent, and I did that for a few reasons. I'm a huge believer in the world of consumer investing, that the world is disrupting faster now than it has before. This has always been a competitive sector. It's always had a lot of change. But the way to invest in the sector, I think, most profitably, is to do growth at scale, which Advent's known for. We had backed incredible brands like Lululemon before, and so there was this track record that was really strong, but also an ability to reinvent and think today how the consumer sector would keep growing in the next five or ten years. And, so, I was thrilled to come on board at Advent. Diversity and inclusion is something I do in the firm. It's certainly not my main job, but it is a critical, critical issue for the firm, and I was thrilled that at day one, Advent was a firm that wanted me to step in and be part of that discussion and change, which not all firms do.
Amanda Morrison: That's a fascinating description of the many facets of your experience that have drawn you to doing consumer work, and the great and interesting work you do at Advent. I know that Advent does have such a strong commitment, and has had over the years, to diversity, equity and inclusion, and that's been an important part of your role there. I would be interested in hearing about your views and the advantages of having greater diversity, including gender diversity, both on your teams at Advent and at your portfolio companies.
Tricia Glynn: When we say "diversity, equity and inclusion," we mean all types of diversity, equity and inclusion, not just gender. When I was growing up in this industry, there were just so many times I was truly the only person in the room, and I knew that part of the value I could bring to those discussions was just my different point of view. I remember being in a big public company boardroom at one point, and it was a business that worked with mothers. I remember looking around the room, I had my first baby, I was 31 or 32, and just realizing the new product lines they were launching just made no sense if you had a stroller. It just wasn't something that a new mom was going to want. And, so, there have been many times that I thought, "Just by being here, I can help this conversation, because I have a different perspective." And, yet, I struggled with that over time, because, as a party of one, it is frustrating to think that is your main purpose. I've also been educated for this, I've trained for this, I'm a deal maker, and, so, my ability to dive into this conversation shouldn't just be as a woman. If you look at all the research in the field, over and over again it says, "Having one diverse voice in the room is great and all, but you actually start to see change once you see two, or three, or more." And it's because of the way humans are wired—we like to be in affinity groups, we like to have comfort, we feel more able to speak our mind when the numbers move a little bit, and you cease to become the outlier that people can dismiss if you're just the one. And, so, throughout my career, I've just wanted to make the conversations feel better. As I got more educated, and I read more, and obviously to lead diversity, equity and inclusion at Advent now with my fellow partners on the committee, we all educate ourselves, and spend a lot of time trying to learn the science behind this. There are incredible academics doing the work that are perfectly willing to teach all of us and help us create change in the business world, but you've got to be serious about it. It takes a lot of time.
I think one of the things I feel really lucky about in my current position is that it's not just the work within Advent, but in my companies. As a lead director on a board, you can drive change really, really quickly. I look at Olaplex, which we bought in January 2020, and we were setting up the board from scratch. That board is ten people, and eight of the directors are women—that's 80% women. We've got diversity of background and race on the board. And, look, we're a consumer brand that is predominantly towards women—we should have a board that is women-oriented. We have an executive leadership team, which is heavily diverse, more than 50% women. I look at all of that as the right thing to do for the business, but I also just love that you're creating career opportunities and wealth opportunities for women who will take this on throughout the rest of their career.
Amanda Morrison: That's incredibly interesting, and it is so gratifying to see, broadly speaking, that increasing numbers of women and diverse candidates are being added to boards, both private companies and public companies. And I do think that's through the commitment of investors like Advent and your work that is enabling that to happen. Jumping back to your career, and thinking about the stops along the way at Goldman and Bain Capital, and now at Advent, I would be really interested in hearing about how you think about being an advocate for yourself, and sponsoring your own career, and, as part of that, what advice you might offer to others starting out in the industry?
Tricia Glynn: Of course. I wrestle with this question a little bit because in some ways it feels a little bit like how I was wired. I have advocated for myself on pay over time. I've advocated for myself to get clear feedback and to really know where I stood. I've advocated for myself in trying to have some control over the projects that I was staffed on. I say all of that, and I coach, frankly, my team to do that for themselves as well too, because, for me, my career was really important to me. I knew that I wanted to achieve and grow, and I knew I wanted to learn. Frankly, a huge piece of it has always been about staying interested and inspired in my work, and the short form way I explained that to people was, "I'm getting bored. I need more." It was just I spent all this time in this career, and I want to make sure I feel alive everyday. I know I do better work when I feel alive everyday, and, so, for that, I was sort of always trying to take on more. I knew that I had to really do well at what I was doing, but there was this itch to keep growing. And, so, part of it, again, was just about making sure that I felt like I was still in this place where I could do my best work, but I never really questioned whether it was okay to advocate for myself in any of those ways.
I've been asked this question a number of times when I've been speaking to groups of younger folks in the industry—it hasn't always been just women—"How did you feel the confidence? Did you have impostor syndrome?" And the answer is, I did at the very, very beginning of my career, because I had switched from science and I was nervous that I didn't know enough, but after some number of years, I did not feel impostor syndrome anymore. I looked around and thought, "I've been working 80-90 hours a week at the beginning of my career for a long time, if not more, on these deals. I know parts of these deals better than anybody on this team, and I'm really trying to do my best and soak it all up." And so I've never looked around and thought, "I don't belong here," or, "I shouldn't keep fighting for what's right." I just think sometimes you need to make people hear and make people see, because people are busy. I've done a lot to advocate for myself. When I am mentoring, coaching and managing people, I really love when people advocate for themselves because it means to me they're taking this really seriously. They're trying to grow, and they're going to be a more constructive part of our team over the long-term—this isn't a stopping place for them.
Amanda Morrison: Speaking of mentorship and the importance of relationships, how do you think about mentoring and sponsorship by others or for others in your career? Can you talk about some of the relationships that have been invaluable to you as you've gone throughout your career, and how you think about building and maintaining those?
Tricia Glynn: Yes, it's been massive. I talk about mentorship and sponsorship—they're different, and they're both really important. In mentorship, I have felt like there have been so many people along the way that were willing to teach me and to help me. Alison Mass, she's vice chairman at Goldman Sachs—she ran a sponsors group globally for a really long time. One of the senior guys at Bain Capital introduced me to her. He said, "We don't have any female partners, so you need a role model. So, here's Alison." That bluntly. And she was incredible—she just helped me so many times. Sometimes it was simple. Sometimes it was, "You need to elevate your game and look the part. And that's not fair, but you're going to walk into this room and lead the deal." Honestly, she helped me get a personal stylist, and I thank my lucky stars that she did because it made me feel more confident in my skin walking to these boardrooms everyday, or speaking, or public speaking, or all these things. There were other times that I would go to a dinner in New York with a whole bunch of people, and by "luck," every single time, she would have me seated next to one of the most senior guys in the room. I've had dinner with David Solomon, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, three times, so I know him personally, and I know these other people she's introduced personally. I think about that a lot. What she was doing is lending her gravitas to me, and putting me in situations where I could elevate my game, learn, just meet people—and that was incredible.
There were other mentors. I want to mention this because of Ropes and how important Ropes has been throughout my career—the vast majority of my deals I've done with you guys was with Newcomb Stillwell. I was 28 or 29 years old. I was quarterbacking my first deal at Bain Capital. I'd worked on a whole bunch, but this is the first one where I was going to be in charge. And I had advocated for myself, speaking of advocating, to get that role way early. I was not senior enough to do it yet, but I thought I could do it. And, so, they agreed to let me quarterback this deal for whatever reason, and my first call was to Newk. I said, "Newk, I'm doing my first deal. I know it's a small deal. I know it's going to be sort of a pain to work on. But, dear God, could you please lead this deal with me, so that I don't mess it up?" He laughed and said, "I've got you. Yes, great." And I did the same thing with a senior partner at Price Waterhouse, who, again, had been doing this for a long time. With those two men at my side, we went and did that deal, and we didn't make mistakes in the contract, or the financing, or the accounting. People that were willing to spend time with me when I was younger or the deals were smaller, but helped coach me and train me, was massive. Did I ask for the help? I totally did. But they were willing to help me, which was really, really important. As I've made changes in my career, there have been countless people who have helped me do it well, be thoughtful about what I was trying to accomplish for my career, but know how these things play out over time, and how to do them with grace and dignity.
The difference between a mentor and sponsor, mentors help guide you, coach you, but then you have to make all the decisions on your own ultimately. Sponsors are in the room when you're not, advocating on your behalf, and ideally when you're getting promoted and paid. That is something I think the private equity industry has a long way to go. I do not feel like I've had much in the way of sponsors. Many mentors, many people who have taught me, some who have given me real opportunities, huge opportunities, but I really have felt like there have had to be fights over and over again. I've seen it in other people's careers, too, where you're having to fight to bring people over the line and get people promoted. This is another one where I've looked at the research and say, "Research says we promote men based on what we believe they can accomplish in the future, and we promote women based on what they have accomplished in the past." We are more comfortable backing people who look like us. It is human nature. It is subconscious bias. It's still got to change, and one of the ways to change that is sponsorship.
Amanda Morrison: How do you think about paying that forward? Is that just a routine or regular part of your day job, so to speak?
Tricia Glynn: At Advent, we have put a sponsorship program in place, and it is focused on driving diversity at the higher levels of the firm. Other firms have started to do that too. It's got to be more widespread, and the longer these programs stay in place, the more obvious it is that they should be there. Ultimately you get to points where you can reach full parity, but for anybody working within their firms to set a program like this up, just know in the first couple years there's always pushback, always.
Amanda Morrison: Yes, such an important project. It does require dedication and eventually creates sea change at organizations, I think, but it takes time, for sure. Given the need to sponsor one's career, and do outstanding work, build relationships, find time for yourself, ideally, and family, I'd be interested to switch topics and hear a little bit about how you manage the competing demands on your time, and how you prioritize, and how that may have changed, frankly, over time?
Tricia Glynn: It's changed a ton. This is one of the hardest things. It's so hard in all of these careers, deal-based careers too, but in a career where you're driving and building over the course of decades, how do you balance everything? I was at Goldman when I heard a senior woman partner at the firm give this rubric for how she thought about life, and it really stuck with me. I think I’ve tweaked it a little bit over time, but the guts of it are all back to what this woman said in the early-2000s. The theory is basically that you have six roles in life that you can play. There's four that we all play: there's your role taking care of yourself, your role as an employee, your role as a child to your parents, and a role as a world citizen, a citizen of your community and of the world. And then the two optional roles are the role of partner and parent. The theory goes, over the course of a life, you can play all six roles, but at any one time, nobody can play more than maybe three of those well. Some people have the capacity to do two at once, some four at once, but most people, it's around three. If any one of them goes into crisis, if you are about to give birth, if you have a sick parent, if you have some crisis in your life, then your ability to lead even the three roles is probably reduced to one or two. And, so, what that told me is just to be really thoughtful about how I was spending time, and to actively fire some aspects of my life at times, and to take the pressure off others. So, when I was pregnant with my first, for instance, I had always been really involved in philanthropic work. I quit every philanthropy, and every board, and every leadership assignment I had. I told everyone I was going to focus on work and motherhood period until I could figure out motherhood and feel like I knew what I was doing. That ended up being such a gift for me because when I left all of those different responsibilities, after a year, I didn't actually want to quit everything, but I wanted one thing that really mattered to me. And, so, I've been on the board of Boston Medical Center and really, really involved since back in '11 or '12. That's been this really, really important thing that I'm not sure I ever would've had time for had I kept doing all of the different things that I was doing. Sometimes refocusing to a smaller number of activities, and allowing yourself to re-branch out later, can allow you to make change in a more natural way.
But the other point of this is, when you have time to focus, really focus. And so, I do coach people a lot. In your 20s, out of school, and early in your career, that is the time to put your shoulder in, learn as much as you possibly can. It's not about hours of work. It's about you've got the ability and mind space now to grow as much as you can, and, so, do that, because you're going to have times where you want to pull back, when your kids need you, when there's a conversation they have to have, when you need to have that spiritual release from the world and take a three-month sabbatical. It doesn't have to be parenting. We talk a lot about balance as mothers, if that's the choice you make, but there's also just being a whole human, and feeling like you've recovered and can keep growing later. So, anyway, I think a lot about those six roles, and I try to be really good about taking things off my plate, so I can focus on what I really care about right now.
Amanda Morrison: I think that's fantastic advice. I do think, for many of us who like to succeed at all that we try and do, and to put our best foot forward in all aspects, that scaling back, and/or saying, "No," at times, can be a really important choice, and allow us and enable us to achieve greater things in other areas, which it sounds like you've managed to do, and great advice for us all to take to heart.
Tricia Glynn: The other beauty of it is to keep looking and saying, "Okay, what have I not quit yet that I should quit?" It's not about leaving things—just it can be really hard to say, "No." It can be really hard when you know you're helping. When people call for career advice, I'm not doing it during the work week anymore—my work week is insane, but if you want to do it on a Saturday morning, and I can go walk and get my coffee while we chat about it, that I can do. But you've just got to set guardrails where you can and where you need them.
Amanda Morrison: That's great advice—combining it with a walk and getting coffee, all the better. So, Trish, we've just concluded 2020. And, in fact, we're recording this on the day of the inauguration. As we look forward to 2021, I'd be interested to hear what opportunity or challenge you're really looking forward to tackling?
Tricia Glynn: I was going to say, I'm wearing my pearls right now in support of our first female vice president, which is very, very exciting. And I pulled out a string of pearls for my little girl, who's six, in kindergarten. It's a fake strand, but it's ready for her when she gets home from school to put on and celebrate.
Coming out of 2020, I am excited by many things. I'm excited by the vaccine. I'm excited that we can move towards healing in some ways. I also, and I want to be happy and inspirational, I am deeply focused on a lot of pretty serious issues though too. When I really think about what we're doing this year, as I think about my roles, looking for new deals, looking for growth in companies, that's all going to be there—the team is going to find those. We're good at finding those, and we're going to work hard and be thoughtful about supporting our companies. And, so, that doesn't keep me up at night. What keeps me up at night is the mental health of not just my team, but our extended management teams and boards because everyone has been living in such an odd moment in time and moment of strain. I'm worried about getting back to full employment at a lot of our companies, and getting people back to work safely, and getting back into those flows. I won't go political, I'm not equipped for it, but the lack of civil discourse and media distrust by the vast majority of Americans, that's a really scary time for anyone as a citizen. It's a scary time when you invest in the consumer to really understand where people are. I've always told my teams, "We are investing in the consumer, where they spend their time, where they spend their dollars, where they spend their efforts." You've got to stay really, really focused on where wealth is concentrated in the economy, and the reality of that's been getting more distorted for a long, long time. And, so, all of those things I spend a lot of time thinking about. I spend a lot of time with my team thinking about. We're all voracious readers and consumers of information, thinking about these trends. Bringing sustainability and climate change into our investments in companies, ESG practices, DEI—these are all the same thing Advent's working on too. And these are all the things that we need to make change very, very quickly.
There's exciting things we're working on too. Those are exciting in a different way, the ones I just mentioned. There's our work around data, and data-based decision making, and how much you can build and grow. At Advent, we hired a chief digital officer, honestly, a year and a half ago, and he's magic. He's helping us talk better. He just put together something a couple weeks ago, a pilot, where it's slack coffee chats. I don't even know how he coded it or built it, but it basically "bumps” you into three new colleagues every week that you can have a quick coffee chat with. There's also algorithms he's building to help us really understand our companies better. We launched a product at one of our companies, and the internal Advent digital team figured out we had a packaging issue before my company did—that's awesome. So, that's all happening too. But we have to stay focused on all of these issues, and the health of the world around us if we're going to actually be good stewards of capital, but, more than that, stewards of employment. Advent employees 400,000 people if you look at all of our companies, and, so, we take that really, really seriously.
Amanda Morrison: Well, certainly a lot to look forward to in 2021. Although, as you say, certainly plenty of issues to think about, and of change that I think we all look forward to seeing effected, and obviously with somewhat of a return to normalcy as the vaccine gets rolled out. Trish, it's been fascinating hearing all of your thoughts today. And thank you again for all the time you've spent with us.
Tricia Glynn: I'm grateful to be having this conversation with you, and grateful that you do this series. It's a wonderful idea. Thank you so much, Amanda.
Megan Baca: Amanda and Tricia, thank you both so much. That was a wonderful discussion. And thank you to our listeners. For more information about Ropes & Gray's Women's Forum and our women attorneys, please visit www.ropesgray.com/women. You can also subscribe to this series wherever you typically listen to podcasts, including on Apple, Google and Spotify. Thank you again for listening.
For more information or to contact Tricia Glynn, please visit her bio on Advent’s website.