Hey gang! I’m thrilled to feature my brilliant and sweet friend, Lynn Jerath. We’re involved with the Trustees Council of Penn Women at the University of Pennsylvania, which is an incredible group of women that goes above and beyond for the university. TCPW exists to promote women-related programming across the schools, from faculty, students, alumnae around the world, and those who sit on boards at the school.
Lynn is TCPW’s co-chair of the development committee and we had the chance to share a plane ride back from one of our last conferences.
Tell me about your new venture
My 2 partners and I started Citrine Investment Group as an investment platform in the spring of 2014. We launched a hedge fund focused on real estate securities and related sectors as our first product. With my 20+ years expertise in this space, I enjoy peeling back multiple layers to find what makes a company tick and if value can be created over the long term. Judgment calls on this knowledge base have taken years to build up and it’s rewarding to implement based on my past experience and expertise.
What’s it like to be amongst just a select few women to be running a hedge fund?
That’s an interesting question, because in the beginning, I didn’t realize there weren’t that many women running hedge funds. I truly was surprised, but then realized, why would hedge funds be any different than the rest of finance?! In my day-to-day, there’s not much to notice as the work is the the same for both genders, which is to make the best possible investment decisions. In the longer term, though, I want to encourage women in finance to consider that they too, can be a leader; it’s an option.
There’s a lack of diversity in leadership roles in corporate America. It’s not just hedge funds, but across all sectors.
What led you to start your own business?
I saw a hole in the market. So few funds were focused on long/short real estate securities. Based on my expertise and the number of players in this space, I identified a market opportunity.
Citrine is really an investment platform. My primary goal is focused on how can we be the best investors in my space. I want to make attractive returns for our investors without taking undue risk, and have built my expertise so that I would be able to execute on that experience. Being able to express sentiments and judgments without other biases is key. The buck stops with me.
What challenges have you met head on?
The biggest challenge starting your own venture is using that authority to make change. It can be scary at times to make the call.
We’ve discussed your passions for investing in the real estate sectors and creating value for investors. You’re also very passionate about education and mentoring. How is that currently playing out for you?
I really love Katlyn Grasso’s non profit, GenHERation. She graduated from Penn in 2015 and made incredible progress since she conceptualized the organization during her sophomore year.
She set out to find a meaningful way to introduce high school girls and young women to career opportunities they likely didn’t know existed. Katlyn kicked off the GenHeration Summer Leadership Series across several major U.S. cities, which boldly asked female corporate leaders to speak about their career paths so that young women’s eyes would be open to the myriad opportunities that exist. I participated in the Chicago event in 2015 and saw firsthand the impact it made.
I joined Katlyn on Wharton’s Business Radio at Sirius/XM 111 for an interview and am thrilled to be making introductions on GenHERation’s behalf. And this summer, GenHERation just announced the kick off of Discovery Days, where a bus will take high school and college women to 5 cities to meet and learn from 150 female executives at firms such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, NASA.
I believe in paying it forward since I didn’t get to where I am in a vacuum. There’ve been a variety of men and women who’ve helped me. I can resonate more to women in finance or business and see it as a pleasure to help others.
What’s your involvement with TCPW? Penn?
I serve as the co-chair of TCPW’s Development Committee and have been an active TCPW member for 11 years. It truly is the nexus of my Penn involvement and I see it is for other TCPW members, too, who are also giving back to Penn in numerous ways. I find that it’s a great way to learn about all the fascinating and interesting projects happening on campus. I truly have loved watching the school evolve and believe that my active involvement provides this deep connection.
TCPW has given me a way to meet and become close to exceptional Penn women. I’m continually impressed by my fellow alumnae’s achievements and the power of the Penn network.
Endowment for Wharton Women interested in Finance
10+ years ago, my husband and I endowed a scholarship for young women interested in studying finance at Wharton undergrad. We strongly believe in providing opportunity where it may not have existed before.
Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
I also serve on the board of the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. I was a dancer as a child, at Penn and after college and wanted to nurture this part of my life. It’s important for me to be involved for my own well-being. What’s interesting is that I get to see how connected everything is; listening to artists and watching their performances is so special and moving to me.
Through my involvement, I’ve had the chance to meet Toshi Reagon, a phenomenal force who wrote and performed an opera titled “Parable of the Sower.” I’ve interacted with professors and students and see the impact of taking the time and effort put into a performing arts performance. These artists are talented and dedicated, and are in a totally different paradigm than the business world. It’s refreshing and inspiring!
What do you see for the future of Penn women?
We’ve come so far and I think that Penn women of the future have almost as much opportunity as Penn men. They’re the beneficiaries of generations of Penn women who’ve paved the way. I believe that the future is very bright for Penn’s young women!
What do you most cherish about your days at Penn?
I made incredible friends and learned so much while having a great time. I also was given the opportunity to find my passion for finance and real estate and to get a jump start on my career.
What’s your take on the age-old work/life balance discussion?
It’s different for every person, based upon their circumstances. The two keys for me are:
- Stay calm
- Figure out what resources you have and use them!
Any parting words?
My favorite question is “Why not me?” and I encourage women of all ages to ask it!
HUGE thanks to Lynn for her time and patience with this interview. She’s also provided a yummy family recipe which will hit the blog in the coming weeks! Stay tuned….