Principal, Business Development
Before joining TSG Consumer Partners, Irena was an investment banker, covering branded consumer goods, e-commerce and specialty retail. She was Senior Vice President at Raymond James and Vice President at Stephens Inc. Prior to Stephens, Irena worked at Industrial Renaissance, a middle market private equity fund focused on special situations, rolls ups, restructurings and operational improvement, primarily in apparel and consumer products. Irena started her career at Credit Suisse First Boston and Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, in consumer and retail investment banking groups. Irena graduated as a Regent Scholar from Walter A. Haas School of Business at University Of California at UC Berkeley, with a BS in business administration and a concentration in international business, finance and accounting.
What makes TSG different than other places you’ve worked?
Everyone is very passionate about what they do. They truly put their heart and soul into it. We are real product junkies. We try every product we consider investing in on ourselves! The dedication to success and job well done is extraordinary through the entire organization. It’s a small, very collaborative team and everyone is encouraged to step up, contribute their opinion, and perform above their level.
What are the keys to building a successful brand?
It all starts with great product that people want to buy, and hopefully buy again. Product is king. Know and focus on assessing your audience, don’t be all things to all people. Create crisp, concise messaging to consumers on what makes your product unique. Engage them, entice them, delight them, and make them feel that the brand speaks directly to them. Don’t lose brand authenticity as it grows.
How do you build trust with entrepreneurs you’ve just started to work with?
Be humble about your position relative to theirs. We work for them and with them, no matter how much of the company we own. At the same time, deliver real value to assist with various aspects of the business they need help with. Take on a task, own it, and deliver on it beyond their expectations.
There is a lot of competition in the private equity world. What has that competition taught you and how has it made you better at your job?
Don’t be shy in communicating real points of differentiation in how our investing style is different. We are brand builders rather than capital providers, and have multiple examples to draw from to demonstrate real value we have brought to a business and its founders in helping them through the next stage of growth before the ultimate exit to a strategic. Luckily, our extensive history of successful partnerships with entrepreneurs speaks for itself; our extraordinary stories are multiple. Just need to get out there and tell them.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
If you do what you are passionate about, you will exude happiness and confidence in your work, and money will follow.
How would you describe your working style?
I am very organized. I function best when I judiciously put everything I have to do, big or small, into a list. It gives me great joy and sense of accomplishment to cross as many things as I can off my list every day. I also like collaboration, bouncing ideas off other people on the team. Having multiple insights, in my opinion, is the best way to get to a well thought through solution.