Most Influential Women Q&A: Kristin Johnson, Altamont Capital

How has a mentor helped your career?

I was fortunate early in my career at Morgan Stanley to work with Ruth Porat, currently the CFO at Alphabet. I was inspired by her drive to provide the most thoughtful advice for clients, her tireless work ethic, and her no-nonsense approach to difficult situations. As she rose through the ranks, she retained her ability to connect with bankers at all levels, as coach and mentor. These skills proved incredibly useful during the global financial crisis as she led several financial institutions, including Morgan Stanley, through some difficult times, and I feel honored to have worked with her.

What is your current role?

I lead Capital Markets and Business Development for Altamont. I am one of 8 partners, and I joined when the firm was founded in September 2010. Adding a dedicated sourcing capability was an important investment for us as a young firm. I believe that from the beginning, my combination of relationship focus, work ethic and depth of investment knowledge helped us quickly generate and maintain a reputation in the middle market. We are currently investing our third fund (~$1Bn) focused primarily on making long term, control investments. In the last twelve months we have seen over 1,300 deals, so we’re incredibly active. Our capital markets efforts seek to align the right lending partners and capital structure with our investment thesis. While there is a lot of debt available, we seek to work with firms who provide flexibility, consistency and growth. In both areas, we have a systematic approach to execution but for us, it all comes down to the importance of relationships.

Describe a challenge you overcame.

When the firm was started, our three founders had a strong view about the firm’s strategy, and they realized from the beginning that the firm’s success would be driven by the team and firm culture. The early team largely comprised people with whom the founders had worked in some capacity. As we grew, we needed to maintain consistency of culture and approach while making sure we were developing an environment where a variety of viewpoints were encouraged.