Let me introduce you to role model Katrien Bosquet, just promoted as managing director at Bencis Capital Partners, ‘a happy Fleming in the Netherlands’, as she calls herself. In another life, she would have become a trauma surgeon “high adrenaline, high impact, only upside”. She ended up studying economics and did her Ph.D. at Leuven University. This year she celebrated her 10-year anniversary in Private Equity and has, so she says: ‘the best job in the world.’

We were sitting in a big office with a view all over the famous Zuidas. On the wall, you could see all the portfolio companies Bencis Capital Partners invested in. Katrien turned off her phone and we were ready to start. The first question I asked her was to describe herself. She said: “loyal, selectively social, hardworking which I like, a mother and a woman living in Amsterdam.” A woman working in Private Equity as managing director at a prominent company is something you don’t really hear that often. Quite an achievement, we think. But like a lot of students in economics, she also didn’t know what she wanted to do after her studies. “What I like now is that everybody is doing internships, I never did that.” Her uncle, who is a professor, gave her the advice to start thinking about doing a Ph.D. and just talk with people to find out what her passion is. She met a female professor at Leuven University. “I instantly had a connection with her and that’s why I started my Ph. D. I really just followed my gut feeling.”

“I really just followed my gut feeling.”

Katrien did her Ph.D. Dissertation with a focus on financial markets, investment professionals (financial analysts and their equity research) and endogenous risk (synchronized reactions of financial intermediaries). One of her main findings is the difference between women and men in success. When women succeed, they will say: “I worked really hard and had a little bit of luck”. When men succeed: “it’s awesome.” And the other way around when women fail, they will acknowledge it. When men fail, they will probably say it wasn’t their fault, it was because of external factors. According to her research, women are more conservative and reflective on this point. The other thing is that you like to assume what you already know or recognize. “I am convinced that if we get more women in top positions, it will attract even more women. It is simply easier to connect with what you already know.” But what is more important, according to Katrien, is diversity. “Diversity is the key to success, who cares if you are a woman or a man.” 

“I have the intrinsic motivation to work and to contribute.” 

When we asked her what we should change to get more women in finance and specifically in PE, she answered: “I think we somewhere stopped realizing that it is fantastic to work. It doesn’t even matter what kind of work you do. It is a really beautiful contribution to society.” According to Katrien, it is also necessary to develop your identity. It is important to know who you are and know and develop your strengths. You will always keep learning. “I still learn new things every day at work.”

“I have the best job in the world” 

After her Ph.D. she started to apply for jobs. “I started applying with the idea: I will stay true to myself. I love being analytic, but I also love to work with people. Imagine I would go to my work every day not liking it, I don’t bring my kids to the nanny to go to a job I don’t like.” For her, working is a must. “I think it is really important to work, it’s in my DNA. And the best thing is that I have the best job in the world.” What Katrien likes about Private Equity is the combination of all aspects of the job together: the financial, fiscal, legal and strategic parts. “The work is very analytical, but you have to be communicative as well, that’s what I like. Connecting with people is very important in our job. You have to remember that the owners of the companies we work with, put a lot of time and effort into their business. It’s their baby, so communication is key.”

“I hope that women will understand that you can do both. Work full time and be a mother, friend and wife.”

“I actually don’t know the number of deals, so I have to count.” With this number of deals, you are talking about over 100 million euros in deals. That is a lot of success you can imagine. Katrien likes it most to celebrate together. She often feels like she has the best job in the world, especially in those specific moments. 

Katrien’s first transaction was Medinova, an orthopedic clinic. Deals in healthcare still keep catching her attention, which is Katrien’s natural interest. After years of regretting not studying medicine, her first deal in healthcare has been a wonderful full-circle moment. What does the future hold? She has no specific goals, “I just walk my own path and keep doing something I like”.

More about Bencis Capital Partners

Interview by: Lieske Brinkhuis