Case Detail

Case Summary

Venita Fields: What Private Equity Professionals Really Do

Case Number: 5-210-250, Year Published: 2011

HBS Number: KEL500

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Authors: Derrick K. Collins; Scott Whitaker; Ed Finkel

Key Concepts

Private Equity, Investment Process, Limited Partners, Interview, Career Management, Kellogg School of Management, Investment Analysis, Analytical Tools


Ever since he had heard her speak at a private equity conference, Babatunde Omotoba had wanted to work for Venita Fields, co-founder and senior managing director of private equity firm Smith Whiley & Company. He wrote and asked her for an informational interview, and was excited to receive her invitation to meet with her at the firm’s regional office in Evanston, Illinois.

After the interview, however, Omotoba came to the grim realization that despite all his preparations—researching private equity firms, studying the types of deals they make, and evaluating the analytical tools used to perform due diligence on companies and make investment decisions—he did not have a full grasp on the actual day-to-day work private equity professionals perform. He spent time reviewing materials from the career management office about private equity, and he meets two Kellogg alumni for informational interviews. He also reviews the investment process. The case ends with Omotoba having a broader perspective on the human aspect of private equity, beyond the analytical and financial aspects, as he anticipates meeting Fields again, hopefully to get the job offer.

Learning Objectives

  • Students learn the “tools of the trade” in private equity: managing portfolio company executives, meeting with limited partners to raise funds, managing the fund, selecting investments, and managing their time
  • Students learn the interpersonal nature of the business, including persuasion and negotiation, and how that is as important as financial skills
  • Students learn the process of preparing to interview with a private equity professional.
  • Number of Pages: 15

    Extended Case Information

    Teaching Areas: Entrepreneurship, Finance

    Teaching Note Available: Yes

    Geographic: Evanston, Illinois, United States

    Industry: Private Equity

    Organization Name: Smith Whiley & Co.

    Organization Department: Executive Office

    Organization Size: Small

    Decision Maker Position: Co-Founder, Senior Managing Director

    Decision Maker Gender: Female

    Year of Case: 2008