As part of the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business, Sorenson Impact Institute’s greatest impact is through empowering tomorrow’s leaders with transformative, experiential learning, real-world training, and mentorship. This series revisits Sorenson Impact Institute alumni who are leading successful careers in impact.
Meghan Williams credits her experience as a student intern on the Sorenson Impact Institute’s venture capital team for the career path she’s on today. Meghan is a Senior Analyst at Mercato Partners, a private equity firm that provides both capital and guidance to founders and companies with a dedicated focus on overlooked and underserved markets. She is responsible for market research and analysis for the data, enterprise software, and IT infrastructure industries. Additionally, Meghan is developing an AI investment thesis, engaging deeply in research for new developments of the increasingly popular technology to determine how AI can be used to assist Mercato’s workflows.
As an impact investing intern, Meghan was introduced to private company investment and valuable, hands-on experience that helped her build an impressive resume, identify the type of career she desired, and develop an impact mindset.
What is your greatest takeaway from your internship at the Sorenson Impact Institute?
Being on the impact investing team was my first introduction to the private markets and private company investment. My prior experience at Goldman and my classes up until that time had all focused on public company analysis and foundational finance principles. I found the private markets fascinating. In public markets, all tradable information can be found online. However, private markets thrive on one-sided information, and you have to ask the right questions and perform your own analysis to come to a conclusion. The impact investing team at Sorenson helped me develop a framework for asking the right questions and learning how to perform analysis so that I could give an insightful recommendation to the Investment Committee. My greatest takeaway from Sorenson has been learning how to ask insightful questions. I’ve been able to hone this skill since my time at the Institute, and it’s led me to find a career that I enjoy.
How did your work at the Institute prepare you for your current position?
The Sorenson Impact Institute helped me develop foundational skills to put on my resume and valuable experience that I could discuss in interviews. The Institute is such a unique collegiate experience and is extremely impressive to employers looking for bright students who have applied academic principles in the real world. The Institute also gave me valuable experience presenting to an Investment Committee. In both of my roles following graduation, I have presented in IC meetings. Understanding the IC’s purpose and what information the members will care about allowed me to focus on my research and analysis instead of worrying about the meeting format.
What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in impact?
I like to think of impact as a mindset. While my current job is not solely focused on impact investing, I still maintain a commitment to impact ingrained in me from my time as a Sorenson intern. I participate in organizations that promote impact such as 100 Women in Finance, volunteering at events, and mentoring students who are looking into investing as a career. I believe we need a community inside and outside of the formal definition of impact investing to drive real change. Right now, I’m helping to drive change from the outside.
What keeps you inspired in your work?
While the investment due diligence process is fairly formalized with basic elements like markets, financials, returns, and so on always evaluated for an investment, I get to look at a wide variety of industries and sectors and talk with founders that are coming up with novel solutions to solve big problems. I’m an innately curious person, so the ability to deep dive into so many different companies and industries keeps me excited to go to work each day. I believe that you should aspire to work in a field that aligns with your core personality traits. I’ve found that in the private markets.
What is one pressing issue that you hope to see solved within the course of your career? How can the impact field come together to solve this issue at scale?
Currently, only 3% of venture funding goes to women-founded firms. I would like this number to equalize at 50% and remove investor bias towards women-founded companies. To solve this issue at scale, I believe the impact field must continue to develop female investor talent, invest in STEM education opportunities for elementary and secondary schools, and foster inclusive entrepreneurship communities. I believe education and mentoring are some of the greatest assets that the impact community can invest in to achieve equality.
Interested in learning more about the Sorenson Impact Institute’s student program? Explore internships and opportunities here.