Series Two, Episode Two: Insights into D&I in Private Equity & Venture Capital

Posted on February 14, 2018

We welcome Tanuja Randery, Operating Executive at Apax Partners and one of the founders of PowerWomen Network, and Travis Winstanley, Games Investment Director at Catalis SE and Cofounder and Director of Diversity VC, who explore the idiosyncrasies, characteristics and expectations of D&I in the investment world. We talk working practices, finding talent beyond the industry & inspiring the next generation of investment professionals.


Tanuja Randery

Before joining Apax, Tanuja Randery was CEO, UK & Ireland for Schneider Electric, the global energy management and automation firm responsible for a €1bn business across Technology, Buildings, Power and Industry. She is also a Non-Executive Director on the Board of Proximus Group, the Belgium Telecommunications and Services company.

Prior to Schneider, she spent 10+ years in Telecommunications and Managed Services at Colt Technology Services, a leading pan-European telecoms provider, and most recently at BT Global Services, a €7.0bn business, as President of Strategy & Transformation. While at Colt, Tanuja led Strategy & Transformation, Global Accounts and UK & Ireland, and was also Managing Director of the Benelux business during 2006-2008.

Prior to joining Colt, Tanuja led the Strategy function at EMC Corporation in Massachusetts, USA and was instrumental in a number of key software acquisitions. Tanuja started her career at McKinsey, the global strategy consulting firm where she spent 7 years specialising in technology and telecoms growth and sales strategy serving leading global companies.

You can follow Tanuja on Twitter @tanujarandery.


Travis Winstanley

Travis Winstanley is one of the UK’s leading video games investors. Working for the Catalis Group, he leads the company’s investment activities through corporate M&A and business development, and is credited in three award-winning video games. He was recognised in Develop’s ’30 Under 30′ (2014) as ‘one to watch’ in the games industry and was the only games industry representative to be recognised in Smith and Williamson’s Power 100 (2017). He is also cofounder and director of Diversity VC – a not-for-profit group advocating for a fairer and more diverse workplace – with his efforts being recognised by the Financial Times, Bloomberg TV and the UK Government.

You can follow Travis on Twitter @tnwinstanley.


Series Two, Episode Two Transcript

Julia: Hello and welcome to DiverCity Podcast, talking about diversity and inclusion in financial services. In each episode we seek to shine a light on successful progress, call out areas requiring further focus, and offer practical ideas to help drive change.

Today we’re talking about diversity and inclusion in the world of investment, and I’m delighted to be joined by two guests; one from a leading private equity firm, the other a co-founder of a venture capital industry diversity program.

Our first guest is Tanuja Randery from Apax Partners. Tanuja comes from a diverse world. After starting her career in the City, she moved into the world of telecoms, with 10 years at Colt and BT. She then explored and examined the power and engineering industry at Schneider Electric, and recently has been lured back to the world of finance, specifically private equity.Last year Tanuja was named one of the FT’s HERoes: champions of women in business, and is one of the joint founders of Power Women Network. Tanuja, welcome. We’re delighted you can join us today.

Our second guest is Travis Winstanley. Travis comes from the world of gaming where he is the games investment director at Kuju Entertainment. He was named one of the UK’s Power 100 Entrepreneurs by Smith and Williamson, and Developer named him one of the 30 under 30 ones to watch. Travis is the co-founder of Diversity VC, an initiative all about promoting greater diversity and inclusion in the world of venture capital. Travis, welcome.

At the top of every show we invite each guest to take a minute to introduce themselves and talk about key initiatives they’re working on, before then opening up our discussion, so Tanuja, let’s start with you.

Tanuja: Well Julia, the reason I was delighted to join you and why I’m super passionate about this topic of diversity in general, is I’ve been through many change and transformation programs during my career in all the industries I’ve served, and I think at the heart of the success factor has always been the team and the quality of the leadership.

So if I think about diversity, I think about it really in that context. To use one of Einstein’s quotes which I love, insanity is just doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, to be honest I think it frames diversity discussions really well, because you’ve got to create diversity of thought in a company in order to drive results. If you only have people who are wired exactly the same way, working on exactly the same problems and coming up with exactly the same solutions they’ve always had, you’re not going to be able to turn around the company.

So that is what drives me, which is business performance at the end of the day, and I think diversity enables that. I’ve just joined Apax Partners on the operation side, and my role is really to enable Apax to hire and retain and drive performance with the human capital agenda, so I’m going to be leading on that.

The other thing I have to mention, because you know this super well, is I founded a women’s network called Power Women, which has grown really across sectors now. It started in the world of power and is now cross sector, and it’s all about enabling women, senior women executives, onto exec committees and onto boards. So delighted to be here, thank you.

Julia: Thank you. Travis, over to you. What are you particularly focused on?

Travis: Great, so you’re quite right. By day, I invest in video games, and by night I am co-founder of a organisation called Diversity VC. Diversity VC is actually founded by a number of investors across the industry … there are five co-founding members…, as well as a wider team of individuals who all share the same view:  that there’s quite a homogenous ecosystem of employees, which needs to change. It doesn’t take much to look round a room at a conference and notice actually it’s often a lot of white gentlemen, myself included. We want to try and promote diversity and inclusion in the ecosystem, because we have a responsibility for making the very best investments and ultimately fostering an inclusive work space.

So Diversity VC is trying to bring this agenda up the priority list for venture capitalists, but also ultimately make change, practical change, within the industry in which we invest.

Julia: So as I understand it, you launched last year, is that correct?

Travis: That’s quite right. So in 2017 we launched on International Women’s Day with an agenda to predominantly tackle gender and the inequality of gender in venture capital within the UK. But with a wider initiative as well – to tackle diversity in its widest forms.

So in May 2017 we launched our first piece of research, which is the very first piece of research of its type, where we worked out the human capital in the UK venture capital industry. For the very first time we were able to show that there only 27% of that industry were female.

Julia: If there’s anything I’ve learned from interviewing many experts on these shows and from talking to many diversity and inclusion specialists in the industry, it’s that ultimately business performance will drive change. But this is, the world of investment is very precise in that it’s about return on investment, it’s about business ambitions … one could argue that diversity and inclusion is a ‘nice to have’, but every day the investment professionals wake up going where are the deals? Where’s the opportunity? Tanuja, your job is to focus on human capital. Just to pick up on what Travis was saying, how do you frame that? How do you scope that?

Tanuja: I will start with it’s really important for us to look for the nuggets out there. It’s about good companies that we can find which have strong market relevance, and then of course looking very specifically at the organisation as well.

So it’s all of those factors that come into play, and actually if I think about the human capital agenda, the reason it’s such a strong agenda … and by the way it’s not just Apax, I think there are a number of private equity forms that are focusing on this and … I have peers in the industry doing the same role as I’m doing, which is setting up and framing this human capital piece.

What is the reason for that? The real framing of the human capital agenda is to ensure that all of our portfolio companies at the end of the day, and these are companies that we invest in, are staffed with absolutely the right talent for the roles that they need to perform. Especially the most critical value creating roles, so this is not about hierarchy.

As we look within those roles, whether that’s the top team or it’s the middle management team, it’s important that we have a balance in that team of skills, experience, track record, and actually diversity of thought, which is for me I think probably the most important thing. Because what we found and research shows this, is that when you’ve got a group of people and you bring in outsiders who may not necessarily be from the same industry or the same background for example, they tend to be more creative, they tend to produce more innovative results. When you put people of the same kind together, they are less likely to question.

Of course for us and our timeframes that we’re investing in, it’s really important that as we invest we hit the ground running with the right team. So I think that’s the framing of the issue, is how do you have a team of people that bring the skills, the experience, the track record, the different way of thinking? And in that context, it’s very important that we look at age, ethnicity, female, as well as different industries as well.

Julia: And that was very interesting, because at the end of last year I was at one of the huge financial institution’s events, talking about the value of recruiting outside the sector. So if you think in the world of say, cyber security, and I’m very interested Travis, obviously for your world in gaming where you can see a very natural overlap in terms of speed of processing, speed of performance, and the user experience, and to your point Tanuja about where you look elsewhere, and clearly your career has borne that out, having come from financial services then telecoms then energy, and then into the world of investment.

Tanuja: And Julia, if I can just say on that, because I think the point about recruiting from outside is really, really important. This is where I think exec search firms in particular have a big role to play, as well as in boards. I think what they will tend to do is take a frame from the client and go out into the industry to find the person that looks like everyone else. There are a few firms that will actually buck that trend and go outside and bring someone in that’s different.

So Schneider Electric is a global energy management firm, and I came in from the telecoms sector, I was recently at BT and then with Colt, and Schneider brought me in to head up the UK and Ireland business. So I think the CEO was wanting to bring in people that were not from the sector, but could help them transform towards behaving more like an agile company that was growing in the services arena and the software arena.

I think it’s trying to bring those sorts of skills together, so when you look for the DNA of the person you’re hiring, you’re not just staring in the mirror, you’re actually looking at someone that brings the components of what you need. One of the things we’re also going to be investing in is spending some time on structured assessment of teams. Because I think let’s be honest, I don’t know if you’ve read this book Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman?

Julia: Yes I have.

Tanuja: Great … it’s a great book. It’s pretty heavy reading, that’s for sure. But what it does say to you is your hit rate at best in hiring is maybe 50%. It’s basically random odds, and we all know this from the City as well. But if you do structured assessment and interviewing and referencing you are likely to increase the odds of that, because you’re not just looking at the resume, you’re actually looking at traits, motivations, drivers. And that’s what diversity should be about.

Julia: Travis, is that your experience in the world of VC as well? Or do you see some particular anomalies for the VC world?

Travis: Well the VC world is interesting on a number of different counts. One, it’s a relatively young industry that was born out of financial services and the legacy that was, but really has only been an industry in its own right for probably about sort of 30, 40 years. So it’s relatively young. The second piece is actually, we’re relatively small. We did some analysis on the average size of the average VC firm, and they only have nine members in their teams, which typically comprises six investment professionals and three support staff.

So when it comes to the businesses, they’re very, very small, and to have formal HR policies and recruitment processes is actually very difficult for a team of that size. So that’s partly why we pooled together Diversity VC, was to try and pool that collective intelligence from a number of different firms across the industry, so that we can sort of provide best practice as a central resource-

Julia: I wanted to ask you about that, whether best practice encouragement is part of your remit with Diversity VC. And could you give some examples of where you’re showing best practice so that those smaller firms can adopt it?

Travis: Sure. So I think the first piece is just raising it up the agenda, making it a discussion point. Rightly or wrongly, it all too often has been marginalised as a discussion because you are focusing on deals and getting the next opportunity across the line. But there’s some brilliant research by McKinsey, which shows that decision making in diverse teams is better than homogenous teams. Just to give that a bit more context, they did some research into gender diverse teams, and showed that they outperform homogenous teams by 15%. If you throw ethnic minorities into the mix as well, then ethnically diverse teams outperform their homogenous rivals by 35%. So there’s a very strong business case-

Julia: An undeniable truth right there.

Travis: Absolutely. That was a McKinsey Why Diversity Matters report. So it’s really credible research on top American businesses, which was able to categorically show that if you promote diversity within the workplace, you’re making better decisions. If you can bring that in to the investment arena, then yes you can absolutely try and drive better returns.

We’re at an early stage at this moment, we need to do more research, and that’s part of what we’re trying to do, is bring it up the agenda, but then provide practical actions for firms to deal with.

Julia: Fantastic. Tanuja, please.

Tanuja: I was just going to say, just building on the point around the data, it’s absolutely clear business performance is better. We are finding that we do get asked about how things are going in terms of sustainability, diversity. Investment professionals, limited partners are asking us these questions. So it is getting raised in terms of the agenda. I actually think we are doing better. I know the percentages are small, both in the PE industry as well as in the VC industry, and actually in the PE industry I think it’s not even quite as good as what you were saying, I think on the investment side it might be as low as 4%, and actually overall-

Julia: Is that gender or-?

Tanuja: So 4% of the investment professionals will tend to be women, but actually 19% overall if you take into account all the back office operations. But, the good news is between two years ago and the previous year, we found that more women partners were being hired in the PE industry than men. So again you’re starting off a tiny base and this is going to take some time. But I do think it is starting to be something that is being tracked, and as soon as you start to measure something I think you do start to see results. I mean I often say that having a target’s not a bad thing, because if you have a target you actually start to see the returns.

And maybe just one other point, we talk about hiring and talent acquisition, but I think the biggest issue in our industry, in finance, consulting, VC if I could say that, or any alternative investment area, is the pipeline, the leaky pipeline. What you actually find is the odds of a woman hitting the top is much lower than that of a man making it to the top. And I think that’s what we’ve got to…

Julia: So perhaps you could break that down a little bit, because part of it is the ascension, if you like, to senior management positions, and part of it’s also about making sure that we’ve got the pipeline. It’s not just gender, it’s right the way across diversity and inclusion spectrum, and making sure that pipeline is being fed.

Could you shed some light on where you see progress being made? Is that internal policies? Is that going back into schools or going further down the chain if you like, and putting the career opportunities on the table? I’d be really interested in just seeing how you’re addressing that. Because otherwise we just continue to make incremental change, and I’m interested to see where we might find the leaps. Travis?

Travis: It is a very deep and complex problem and goes right to the root of society, and I think it does go back to STEM in schools and so on. We can’t do it in the VC industry on our own, there does need to be government initiatives, but we are trying to more the dial forwards.

I think there are some systemic issues. We are actively going out to schools at the moment with Diversity VC and universities to say, “Look, venture capital is an industry, it is relatively small, it is relatively unknown to the world at large.” So just creating awareness of the opportunities there, and making sure that potential job applicants are aware of the opportunities, just to foster their excitement to come into the industry.

Julia: And just picking up on that, are you engaged with government policy? Is that something you’re thinking about? Is that something you’re looking at?

Travis: We would love to be involved with the government. If they’re listening, do send them our way.

Julia: Right okay, we’ll be mindful of that and if anybody from government’s listening, call Travis straight away!

Tanuja, from the bigger PE firm perspective, policies internally and again, this whole thing about feeding the pipeline?

Tanuja: A couple of things I would say and some of it is PE and some is just my broader experience. I would think that aggressive talent monitoring and development is really, really important. So once you’ve brought them in, going out to universities, and I actually think one of the things that PE firms do very well is we’ve got a very long range on talent.

So because at some point you may require a board member, you may require a senior executive, and when you buy a company they’re not likely just to be waiting around for you, you’ve got to constantly be monitoring the talent pipeline outside. And I will say that I find everyone in the company is actively spending time having informal discussions with people. So in that context it’s easier to actually bring in a more diverse pool, because you’re not racing to hire someone from a very limited set of things.

The other thing I would say is that in terms of flexibility and policy around … and let me talk about females in particular. It’s clear that we have to worry about the family work life balance issue. Children, and actually more increasingly, to be honest, we’ve got parents who are getting older and we need to look after them. So we’ve introduced, certainly at Apax, we’ve introduced a six month maternity pay, paid leave, which I think is actually extraordinarily groundbreaking, if I could use that word.

The other thing we do is we know that when you’re in the middle of deals, look it can be extraordinarily 24/7 many times for many weeks, so we ensure that the women on our team are appropriately looked after in terms of support that can go along with them, especially if there’s travel involved.

Then of course there’s also the men’s side. It’s really important that we have men being able to take paternity leave as well. So we’ve also introduced a four week paternity leave. So there’s lots of little things you can do, but I think the biggest thing that I would say is it’s the sponsorship within the organisation and senior individuals actually keeping an eye on the women talent, and aggressively promoting from within. It’s really heavy lifting, and I remember when I was at Schneider, twice a year we’d go through the list of women, we’d sit in a room, and we’d talk about which role they were going to take, and then we were going to have to sponsor them into the role, because it just wasn’t going to happen overnight.

Julia: Right, and I think one of the things that you make a very good point about, the world of investment whether it’s VC or private equity, has attributes of its own. As you say, it’s not a nine to five job. It is an all-encompassing out to do the deal, kind of life absorbing career to have. So the appetite for change is great on paper, but the practicalities really matter, and the sponsorship of really looking where the talent’s going to come from tomorrow both internally and externally.

But also the other thing you were saying about how when you’re putting somebody into a board of a company you’re investing in, is how do you get the right person, at the right time, at the right price? Which is a challenge in and of itself. So I think one of the things we’re trying to do on the podcast series is not make sweeping judgments, because the peculiarities of the industry are very precise.

Tanuja: And let’s not forget, we’ve got portfolios that are actually not PE. So the PE side is simply the investment side, but if you look at our portfolio, it goes across tech, telecoms services, industrial, healthcare, and retail. Then if you dive in there we do have a range of diversity situations. So our retail businesses tend to be more diverse of course than our tech businesses. So if you look at a PE firm, I think you’ve got to look at the portfolio of the PE firm and not just the PE firm itself.

Travis: I do think that the investors do set the tone for some of the businesses they’re investing in, and it’s important if we’re going to hold our businesses to account that we hold ourselves to the same account.

Julia: Let’s take a pause there and turn to Cynthia Akinsanya and Robert Pinto-Fernandes who have been scouring the industry for supporting research.

Robert: The Harvard Business Review article titled, ‘Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter’ takes a closer inspection of the McKinsey report, looking at racial and gender diversity across 366 top public companies. Those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean. And those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean.

Cynthia: In a similar study published by Economic Geography, the authors concluded that increased cultural diversity is a boon to innovativeness. A study of over 7,000 firms that participated in the London Annual Business Survey, revealed that businesses run by culturally diverse leadership teams were more likely to develop new innovations than those with homogenous leadership.

Robert: In the 2017 Diversity VC report, Women In UK Venture Capital, women represent just 13% of decision makers in UK venture capital. Their goal is to see women holding at least 20% of senior decision making positions by 2020.

Julia: Thank you Cynthia and Robert, and links to the references and research can be found on our website You can also sign up for early notifications of future episodes, and please do follow us on Twitter @divercitypod, and you can find us on all good podcast channels. If you’ve enjoyed the show, we’d really appreciate a rating. It all helps promote the episodes.

It was very interesting what Tanuja was saying about various policies, and as you were saying, VC is a relatively young industry. Is there anything you look at there in the world of PE and think that’s something we should be bringing into VC as we try and meet this challenge?

Travis: Absolutely. So yes the private equity space is very influential to us. We do have partners with Level 20, which is a group promoting gender diversity within private equity firms. Yes, there are some great best practice studies which have been led by private equity space, such as Apax’s six month maternity leave, which I think is great, which serve as great inspiration for us. But likewise from other industries, from accountancy, from law, we can draw on all of that expertise and bring it to the VC industry.

Julia: Tanuja, I was very interested in what you were saying about obviously the role of women, and you were talking about Power Women. Talk to us a bit more about some of your initiatives around women in investment and industry as a whole.

Tanuja: Thanks Julia. I do believe that companies can do a lot, and they can do more. I think we haven’t stopped in terms of what we can do. One of the initiatives that I’m very fond of that Schneider was part of was the HeForShe campaign, which was basically men sponsoring women. Because at the end of the day, we don’t have enough hiring managers that are women, or role models yet. So that whole HeForShe was one of those things that companies … But being a woman, I’m extremely passionate about what women can do, and the idea of Power Women was really born from the fact that could we get a small intimate group … I mean we’ve been to many networks right Julia, you and I….

Julia: Yes we have….

Tanuja: And the problem is a lot of these networks are huge and you just get lost in that network. So the idea of power women is to create a small intimate group of very senior executives who can actually be coaches to each other. So it’s all about peer to peer coaching and being able to pick up the phone and call someone, if you’re in the middle of a restructuring for example.

So this is not just about talking about women and what women should do, but it’s also about business ideas that women can foster with other women. So that’s really the purpose of Power Women. We’re going to start small with only 50 members, and then hopefully grow. We’re also members of Level 20, which I think is a great initiative and I think we could do more there.

But from a woman’s perspective I would say there’s two or three things that I’ve often lived by. One is it’s really, really important to manage your life. The fact is you want to have kids, that’s wonderful, you don’t want to have kids, that’s fine, it’s up to you. But whatever you do, you’ve got to outsource and make sure that you’ve created the time for both work as well as home. So it’s not someone else’s problem to manage that.

I think the second thing that women don’t do is prioritise massively. You know, at the end of the day, all of us should be creating clear priorities and if you want to get to the top of an organisation, it is not a part-time job. So you’ve got to just realise that you’ve got to figure out your life, prioritise like mad, make time for yourself, and ensure that you’re actually making time for work and home.

Then the third thing I would say is don’t stay under the radar. I just think we are too often staying under the radar, not willing to speak up, when we have so much to offer. So I think a woman can play a very big role in their own development and making sure that they’re actually asking for help when they need it.

Julia: Absolutely.

Travis: I think on that point, that is really helpful advice, for me as an aspiring investment entrepreneur, but also to anyone within the industry. That’s not just relevant to women, but also to anyone from any under-represented group.

Julia: I think that’s really important, so when we think about the ethnic mix and we think about the ethnic diversity, but also around age and many other aspects of diversity and inclusion like LGBT … Travis, are you thinking about Travis how you apply some principles to finding more ethnic talent, and what should young BAME executives be thinking about as they’re trying to climb the career ladder?

Travis: Well I think it’s exactly those points that Tanuja just mentioned, that it is possible, you need to prioritise, you need to make sure that you have your own personal drive to make sure you get it. And make sure if you are coming up against internal blockers that you find a way around them or find someone to help you pass them.

Julia: I think that’s a perfect place to leave our discussion. I could talk to both of you for a very long time, you’re both exceptionally busy. I’m very grateful, Tanuja, Travis. Thank you so much.

Travis: Thank you.

Tanuja: Thank you Julia.

Kieron: This episode of DiverCity podcast was produced by me, Kieron Yates, on behalf of Julia Streets Productions. Thanks to Cynthia Akinsanya and Robert Pinto-Fernandes for their insights. You can find out more about the guests on this week’s show on our website Whilst you’re there you can also sign up to our newsletter for all our latest updates.

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