Fellows and StepStone staff at the end of the day

On Thursday, 18th April, 11 Making The Leap Fellows attended a corporate experience day at private markets company, StepStone. The day-long forum, held in their London office, gave young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds an opportunity to learn about private markets, meet industry insiders, and realise that anyone can pursue a career in finance if they desire.

Presentation by Erin Sarret, a director in StepStone’s London office

“We wanted to put them in our shoes for a day,” said StepStone Partner and Head of Europe, David Jeffrey. “Private equity has a mystique that can be intimidating, but by peeling back the layers we wanted them to see that there’s nothing magical about what we do – that with the right attitude, work ethic and training, anyone can work in private markets.” 

In preparation for the day, the Fellows came up with an idea for a business which they would then present to a mock investment committee. Working in teams of three or four, their businesses centred around improving education or making the hiring process more efficient.

One of the groups put the final touches to their presentation with StepStone professionals

One of the Fellows that took part, Ajun, commented on the organisational lessons that he learned leading up to the day: “We were assigned groups and then allocated ourselves a time-frame to get things done. Because we all come from different backgrounds and have different interests – marketing, finance, legal – we all set ourselves deadlines for when each aspect had to be completed.”

However, when things didn’t quite go to plan there was another equally important lesson for Ajun to learn: “We had a bit of a scare because somebody forgot the USB stick with the presentation on it, but luckily I had a back-up with me, which was an important lesson in itself!

Lunchtime networking

Echoing Ajun’s comments, another participating Fellow, Eli, was particularly happy with the variety of things he learned.

“As someone who is interested in finance, it was great to learn a lot about private markets – what they actually do on a day-to-day basis, what kind of businesses they work with, how to get in to the field. But I also learned a lot about leadership and persevering despite obstacles. Our team leader had to drop out, so we had to come together and put the extra work and research in to make it work.”

For Abdi, another Fellow who participated in the event, some of the presentations inspired him to pursue his ambitions: “I really enjoyed the presentation by Marie Drago. She told us about setting up her own company and explained it’s not as hard as people think – It made me feel like it was something I could actually do!”

Delivering the presentation

Further, Abdi appreciated how personalised they were able to make the day, as the Fellows had the chance to talk about themselves and their interests before being matched with a professional in that industry.

Looking back on the day, Abdi commented on its overall success: “The whole point of the day was to break down barriers – there’s a perceived glass ceiling about what private markets firms do and there are lots of complicated, technical terms, but once they broke it down it became much more clear and accessible.”

Shampa Bell, who organized the event, said, “We were so impressed! Not only did these kids show us they could apply the day’s lessons, but the fact that their ideas focused on helping people not unlike themselves showed empathy and true grit.”

The view from the office

You can find all the pictures from the day here.

Read more about the StepStone reaction here.

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