In conversation with Maite Ballester Fornés
Founding Managing Partner, Nexxus Iberia


Describe briefly your current role.

I am the Founding Managing Partner of a Spanish Private Equity Fund, Nexxus Iberia I with €170m, focused on low-mid market investments in Spain and Portugal.


Summarise your life biography (personal and professional)

  • First job at GTE Corporation (Verizon) as a finance executive. Then joined Booz Allen and Hamilton as a management consultant in strategy design and organisational restructuring for leading multinationals for six years
  • Degrees in Finance and Political Science from Boston College and an MBA from Columbia University in New York
  • Served on the boards of 13 companies during my time at 3i Private Equity.
  • Chairman of ASCRI (Spanish Venture Capital Association) from 2010-2012 and board member since 2008
  • Member of Circulo de Empresarios, International Women´s Forum and Directors´ Institute.
  • Frequent conference speaker at business schools, forums and business associations on the role of Private Equity in the Spanish Economy and Women on Boards and women in Private Equity
  • Senior advisor at EY. TAS focused in Private Equity in June 2014-2017.
  • 19 years of private equity experience at 3i Private Equity where I have been Managing Partner in Spain. I have led over 35 investments and 20 divestments including 2 IPOs in both buyouts and minority transactions in Spain, Portugal, Brazil, India and China.

Member of global investment committee for minority investments including markets such as India, China, Brazil and the US.

Extensive fundraising experience with international institutional investors in three funds .

  • Currently I am an Independent Director on the Boards of Prisa Radio S.A., and Repsol, S. A. and member of their audit committees


What attracted you to Private Equity?

I was the first woman to be recruited by private equity firm 3i in continental Europe in 1995. I frankly did not know what private equity entailed. I was looking for a change from management consulting and its intense travelling lifestyle. I was attracted to the nature of business and the applicability of the skills gained in management consulting: market assessment, deep dive analysis, define new strategy, work with management teams, continuous learning of sectors, etc.

I was also attracted to the possibility of working in high performing teams, similar to management consulting. I was used to teams with high self-motivation, teamwork, ambitious, and international.


What do you think it will take to improve gender gap in private equity?

I strongly believe that unless diversity becomes another key selection criteria from important LPs, change will be slow. Some studies underpin the theory that diverse management teams and boards drive better returns in the public companies. Why would this be different in private equity?


We have seen an important step change in diversity in boards of listed companies in Continental Europe, specifically in France, where new measures encourage diversity at board level in listed companies. The same is now happening in private equity in France.


I believe we will see a significant change in the next five years in Europe, driven by regulation or strong recommendations from different European regulators.


What advice would you give to women interested in private equity careers?

My advice would be to be persistent and resilient. Especially during the years of becoming a mother and raising children. Private equity is a long-term career, like a marathon. One needs to be at least ten years in the business to experience a full cycle in the investments done. Like a marathon – sometimes you want to give up, sometimes it is painful, sometimes it is very rewarding and reaching your goal is super exciting and well paid!!