Kelly Williams
President, GCM Grosvenor Private Markets

"Diversity" has become a buzzword as companies position themselves to take advantage of an increasingly disparate clientele. But Kelly Williams can stake a solid claim to having led the charge, not just having responded to the call.

Williams was an early proponent of investing in fund managers owned by women or minority professionals. She recognized that institutional investors increasingly aim to ensure their assets are handled by a diverse group of women and men of various ethnicities. The founding chair of the Private Equity Women Investor Network, she has identified the lack of women — especially senior women — as "the biggest issue in private equity." And it's an issue that's confounding, because, as she notes, "studies show that women-managed funds perform as well as, if not better than, funds that are not women-run."

Williams has spearheaded diversity-promotion efforts within GCM Grosvenor Private Markets; the result is that a majority of the Chicago-based company's investment team consists of women and minorities. It's that kind of commitment that has earned her top awards from the National Organization for Women and the Robert Toigo Foundation, whose goal is to bring diversity to the finance industry.

A managing director and group head of the Customized Fund Investment Group at Credit Suisse from 2000 to 2013, Williams successfully shepherded her team through a sale that resulted in CFIG being purchased by GCM Grosvenor. Through it all, she retained 98% of clients. Today, she oversees a global business that has some $30 billion of commitments and $20 billion of assets under management.

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