Valerie EtienneBack to Blog

I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer. In high school, I did various legal internships. Whilst on one of these placements, a lawyer I worked with advised me to pick a major that would allow me to diversify my skills, instead of going straight into pre-law during undergrad. So, I majored in Accounting with minors in Communications and Business Law. As my father was a serial entrepreneur, I had grown up around the inner workings of business, so it was a great fit.

I got a taste of private equity law at Dechert, where I started my legal career. Mergers and acquisitions ultimately became my sweet spot. I welcome the challenge and complexity of doing deals. I live by the idea that if I'm comfortable, I'm not growing and I'm not becoming the best version of myself. So, if it scares me, I have to do it and it has paid off so far.

My advice to women coming up after me - ‘It's not a sprint, it's a marathon.’ Keeping this in mind has helped me a lot because I'm somebody who tends to go 100 miles per hour. When I look back at all I’ve accomplished, while I appreciate the journey, I often think that I could have slowed down and enjoyed the path more. If you are in a fast-paced legal or finance role that you want to sustain, you have to slow down and take it step by step. Otherwise, you’ll burn out. Finding balance and ensuring that you make room for your family, friends and personal life is the best way to make a career in this field sustainable.