Private Equity’s Sandra Bosela & The Strength Of Influence

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I don’t think I have been held back in any way because I’m a woman. In some ways, I think it helped me.”

It was Sandra Boselas father, a small business owner in her hometown of Niagara Falls, Ont., who convinced her to pursue a career in finance.

Bosela wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, career-wise, and it was her dad who encouraged her to go to business school at the University of Western Ontario.

At one stage I told him I might want to be a dentist and he said, you don’t want to put your fingers in other peoples’ mouths you want to go into business,” Bosela recalls with a laugh.

It was also her dad who encouraged her to take her first job as an investment banker at National Bank Financial, formerly known as First Marathon Securities Ltd.

That was really the path that put me where I am today,” says Bosela who, after a couple of years as an investment banker, went on to the start-up private equity fund within National Bank Financial that eventually became EdgeStone Capital Partners. She worked at EdgeStone for nearly 13 years, working her way up from Associate to President and Managing Partner.

In 2012, Bosela took a job as Managing Director at OPTrust Private Markets Group. With net assets of $20 billion, OPTrust invests and manages one of Canada’s largest pension funds and administers the OPSEU Pension Plan, a defined benefit plan with almost 90,000 members and retirees. Today, Bosela is Co-Head of the Private Markets Group and Global Head of Private Equity at OPTrust.

Recently, Bosela was named to WXN’s Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 list in 2017 for her role as a pioneering woman in private equity” and a sought-after expert in the field.”

The recognition is one of the proudest moments of Bosela’s career. It’s a great honour,” she says. It inspires me to try to use any influence I have to do whatever I can to help affect positive change.”

Sandra Bosela, Co-Head of Private Markets Group & Global Head of Private Equity at OPTrust

That includes inspiring more women to seek a career in finance, and in particular private equity, where she’s is often still the only woman in the room. The reality certainly hasn’t caused Bosela to shy away from opportunities she’s worked hard for in her career thus far.

I don’t think I have been held back in any way because I’m a woman. In some ways, I think it helped me,” she says. It differentiated me. Even in negotiating it’s different. You bring something different to the table.”

Part of the WXN nod was for her board work, including chairing the Business Development Bank of Canada’s Board Investment Committee, which among other things, reviews and approves material venture capital and equity investments, in addition to her day job.

Bosela has also been very active with the CVCA over the years including as a board member for five years and a member of the executive committee for two years. She was also chair of both the professional development and awards committees for three years each.

Relationships are so important in our business and my involvement with the CVCA has certainly helped to give me access and build my network,” says Bosela.

As for her success to date, Bosela credits the push from her family to broaden her horizons, as well as other mentors and sponsors in her life since — all of who have played different roles.

I like to differentiate between mentors and sponsors,” she says. In my opinion, mentors give advice and are a sounding board, but sponsors are the ones who really pull you along. I have been lucky enough to have sponsors in my career who have really helped me get me where I am today. They pushed me out of my comfort zone, they got me doing things I didn’t think I was ready to do, to turn weaknesses into strengths and to build my networks professionally and in the community to help make me a better, more well-rounded person.”

While Bosela didn’t name names, she says these mentors and sponsors have encouraged her to not only work hard and pursue her passions but also help others in their careers and the broader community.

Her advice to others: Work hard, trust your instincts, get out of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to fail.”

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