“Hedge funds, if you do it right and you set up a really good compliance and operational structure, it’s a scalable business,” explains Susanne Meline, co-founder of Francis Capital Management. Prior to going into hedge fund management and serving on several boards, she worked as an investment banker and as a lawyer. Today, Susanne shares how she first became involved with hedge funds, how a serendipitous meeting at a coffee shop landed her a seat on her first board, and board advice for those seeking their first seat.
Susanne took a huge risk going from a salaried employee to taking an ownership interest in a hedge fund. To her, it was a relatively easy decision to make after observing many other funds from the outside for years and knowing that they can be profitable right from the start. She focused on making sure the hedge fund was set up properly with good compliance and a strong operational structure so that it would be a scalable business. Her inside knowledge of finances, operations, and law from her prior work experience made her a perfect fit for this type of business venture. About 6 years ago, Susanne landed a position on her first board, a venture capital fund by women funding women-founded or led businesses. It was an incredibly challenging board going through a time of transition, but Susanne welcomed the opportunity.
Being willing to take risks really paid off for Susanne. You may think it is better to wait until the perfect board opportunity comes up, but you might be waiting forever. By being willing to challenge yourself, you can get more experience and learn from these more difficult positions, which will make you a more valuable board member going forward.
“Hedge funds, if you do it right and you set up a really good compliance and operational structure, it’s a scalable business.” (18:41–18:48 | Susanne)
“We have the same investment philosophy that we’ve had all the time, which is value with a catalyst.” (20:07–20:11 | Susanne)
“Capital providers are a really important part of a company’s success. But at the end of the day, the companies are the ones making the decisions.” (22:49–22:55 | Susanne)
“Those traditional board searches, they really look for people that have operations experience.” (26:32–26:37 | Susanne)
“In terms of figuring out how you’re going to get in that board seat, it’s like, ‘Do you know the capital providers, the VC people, or do you know the founder?’.” (28:44–28:51 | Susanne)
“Being willing to go on a board where it’s challenging is a really great way to get the opportunity.” (29:54–29:59 | Susanne)
“Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you can’t be excellent.” (35:49–35:51 | Susanne)
“Look at the opportunity, not at the compensation. To me the compensation is the last piece.” (37:32–37:36 | Susanne)