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Voices of Experience: Dorothy Price Hill

For our Voices of Experience series, The Glass Hammer interviewed Dorothy Price Hill and asked her about her experience in private equity and her advice for young women in finance who might be interested in pursuing a similar career path.

Ms. Hill is the Director of Investor Relations and Business Development at a New York-based private equity investment firm specializing in buyouts and buildups of business services companies at the lower end of the U.S. middle market. She has a 14-year record of accomplishment in alternative investments and investment banking, including experience in private equity, hedge funds, risk management, investor relations and capital markets.

Prior to her current role, Dorothy worked for Capital Dynamics, Deutsche Bank, McKinsey, Siemens and the Council on Foreign Relations. In the 1990’s, she spent six years overseas with Goldman Sachs during the firm’s major international expansion and completed assignments in Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland, the UK and France working with corporate and high net worth clients.

Ms. Hill holds an M.B.A degree from the NYU’s Stern School of Business and a B.A. from Dartmouth College. She is a guest lecturer at the Stern School of Business; serves as co-head of the New York City chapter of 85 Broads, the Goldman Sachs alumnae network and does annual fundraising for Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, among other organizations.

How did you get started in financial services?

I became interested in financial services after meeting several financial-firm CEOs in my first post-college job at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. There, I had the opportunity to work with Fortune 500 CEOs, leaders of non-profit organizations, and other world leaders and prominent academics.

Please tell us how a past success – or failure – has helped you learn and grow.

While I’ve been lucky to work for some great firms in positions of increasing responsibility, my career path has not always been smooth. I once worked for an organization led by a highly-experienced financial professional who was borderline abusive to his colleagues, and while it wasn’t fun, it was a tremendous learning experience. I learned a lot about the psychology of working with others and what does, and does not, work in terms of motivating colleagues and teams.”

You have worked for some of the most well known firms in business, in varied but related roles. For a woman seeking to enter a new business area other than her known expertise, what advice would you give?

Since I’ve worked in several varied but related roles in financial services, I am frequently asked how to get started in an area that’s unfamiliar. It’s vital that you identify all the transferable skills you have developed, including while you were in school. There are checklists available online and in many career books that can help guide you. It’s also critical that you know which skills you bring to the table and what value you can add to the top (revenue) and bottom (profit) lines.

What is your favorite business book? Why?

I read a lot of business and career books, and one of my favorites is “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene, which discusses how certain actions can increase your power while other actions will decrease it. It’s a bit Machiavellian, but definitely interesting and quite thought provoking!

What tips do you have for young women who would like to work in private equity?

If you would like to work in private equity, you should be prepared to work very hard, stay on top of trends, and build a strong network of deal and financing sources and advisors/consultants. If you choose to work directly on the deal side, be prepared for the road-warrior lifestyle and using your Blackberry 24/7. A mentor can be invaluable, and there are many very smart, well-connected private equity professionals whose knowledge can help you. In addition, remember to reach “down the ladder” and help others who are breaking into private equity and need an insider’s view of the landscape. The one piece of advice that has been most helpful to me in my career: Build a network of terrific people and remember that networking is a two-way street.

What steps do you take to help balance your demanding job and your private life?

Finding a good work/life balance is tough, but I feel very lucky to have a spouse who respects my career and the demands of my job. It is also important to have reliable household help when you have a full-time professional career, especially if you have to travel and/or work long hours. Recently, another working mother told me that she outsourced all domestic tasks (such as shopping, laundry and cleaning) to household help so she could focus on the value-added things like overseeing school projects and helping with homework. That was terrific advice, since this year my household increased from two to four children!

What is the next step in your career?

I love the private-equity business and hope to be involved in it for a long time. But someday, I’d like to teach in New York City at the university level and possibly open a bakery in Harlem that would double as a daytime playspace for kids and an evening performance space for aspiring jazz musicians.

The Glass Hammer had one last question for this busy financial professional before she dashed off to an investor conference: What is your personal motto?

Ms. Hill replied instantly: “The glass is always half full.”