SPOTLIGHT ON LAUREN KING, T'16

“It is so helpful to look upwards and see someone whose career or decisions you’d like to emulate or hadn’t considered on your own. Similarly, it is also helpful to have someone point you in the right direction or lend a year (or decades!) of experience that you haven’t had yet.”


APRIL 30, 2020 | BY COLE ZAHARRIS & LEIGH MARSHALL


Lauren King works at TPG, an alternative asset manager with more than $88 billion under management, as an Associate on the Fundraising team for TPG’s private equity platform. Previously, Lauren was a Senior Associate at Ares Management in the Liquid Credit Group’s Product Management & Investor Relations team, and prior to that, was a Middle Market Banking Analyst at Wells Fargo. Lauren graduated from Duke University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a minor in Visual Arts, and was involved with Business Oriented Women and the Panhellenic Association’s Executive Board. Lauren currently lives in San Francisco.


What is your most meaningful accomplishment from your time at Duke?

Duke gave me all the right tools to grow and become my own person both personally and professionally. Through challenging courses and the opportunity to develop a wide array of new skills and interests, I was able to pursue my (seemingly unrelated) passions in the social sciences and visual arts. These ultimately converged to directly benefit me in my job today, where an understanding of macroeconomics combined with a background in creative and strategic thinking has been pivotal to the continued forward trajectory of my career.


Above all, I am thankful for the support by an incredibly diverse, intelligent, and ambitious community from all walks of life, which was the #1 reason why I went to Duke and which ultimately challenged me to become the best version of myself.


Are there any specific classes or professors that you recommend all students take?

I really enjoyed my Knowledge in the Service of Society FOCUS class with Professor Tony Brown during my first semester at Duke and my Behavioral Economics class with Professor John Forlines during my final semester. Both classes and professors encouraged students to step outside the framework of their existing perspectives to question stereotypes and ultimately address individual and societal challenges through unique and creative approaches.

How has mentorship--both within BOW and outside of BOW--helped you along your career path? 

I could not be where I am today in my career and life without mentorship. It is so helpful to look upwards and see someone whose career or decisions you’d like to emulate or hadn’t considered on your own. Similarly, it is also helpful to have someone point you in the right direction or lend a year (or decades!) of experience that you haven’t had yet. I’ve been able to learn from women who are in the next step of my career as well as from executive-level leadership, parents, and professionals who have transitioned between roles and industries, all of whom have had experiences that I have not yet had but are nonetheless incredibly insightful to my own career.


What is an obstacle that you have faced in your career path and how did you overcome it or how are you trying to overcome it?

I am my own worst enemy and doubt my ability to achieve success. I have been asked to lead meetings, coordinate projects, and write thought pieces and have been promoted early as a result. However, each time I’ve been given the opportunity to take on a new level of responsibility by managers and colleagues who have full faith in my capabilities, I have been the first to doubt myself and my ability to step up to the challenge.


Personally, I often feel this way because I never feel like the “smartest person in the room” (even though we all know that the loudest person isn’t necessarily always the smartest!) no matter how much I prepare, which prevents me from fully asserting myself. Though this will likely be a personal challenge to some degree for the rest of my career, I hope that it will become less daunting with time. For now, I continue to raise my hand for new opportunities no matter how insurmountable they may seem, spend extra time ensuring I feel as comfortable as possible with new material, and work with mentors who have all had similar experiences to better understand how to prevent self-doubt from taking over deserved growth and accolade.


Why did you decide to transition from working at Wells Fargo to Ares Management Corporation? Are there specific aspects of a company’s culture that are extremely important to you?

While I was able to develop a strong technical foundation as an Analyst at Wells Fargo and enjoyed working in the finance industry, I ultimately wanted a career that had more opportunities to be creative, strategic, and relationship-focused. At the beginning of my job search in early 2018, I wasn’t even sure if such a job existed. However, in speaking with friends (and friends of friends, as well as complete strangers on LinkedIn--networking and asking the right questions was key!) across the finance, technology, and entertainment industries, many encouraged me to take a look at a career in investor relations. Simultaneously, I was looking for ways to move to Los Angeles for my personal life. The finance community in Los Angeles is incredibly tight knit as there are only a handful of bigger firms in the city and surrounding areas, and I was quickly drawn to Ares from there.


To me, a company’s culture is a huge part of the broader job experience. Throughout my career thus far, I’ve found that a flat culture where more junior and senior employees are able to learn from and support each other has been important to me. As a result of this support, I have been encouraged to take on new opportunities where I was initially dubious of my own success. As I pursue new ventures, I aim to look for similar cultures where growth is supported and encouraged.


What is something you’re trying to learn or improve on nowadays?

This is a great question - at work, I am currently working on asserting myself and believing in the power of my own voice, as noted in my response above.


Outside of work, I am learning how to play golf. I’d also like to start learning piano again (I used to play for 12 years), and would like to learn how to cook Shanghainese food at least half as well as my mom does!


What are the biggest differences between living and working in Los Angeles versus San Francisco? Do you prefer one over the other?

Despite being in the same state, Los Angeles and San Francisco could not be more different. Geographically, San Francisco is a relatively denser city, whereas Los Angeles actually encompasses a much larger area. As a result, different neighborhoods are more spread out (especially when accounting for traffic), which often necessitates owning a car to be able to more easily get around. Culturally, both cities are more laid back relative to cities on the East Coast. On the weekends, both cities offer great options for hiking, unique restaurants to explore, and beautiful parks and beaches to hang out at. Additionally, there are so many amazing cities and places to visit that are within driving distance of both San Francisco (Tahoe, Yosemite, Salsalito) and Los Angeles (Santa Barbara, Orange County, San Diego). Career-wise, San Francisco tends to be more focused on finance, technology, and entrepreneurship. On the other hand, there is definitely more of a bias towards entertainment in Los Angeles. In particular, the finance community is definitely more robust in San Francisco, but the community in Los Angeles is especially tight knit given the relatively smaller size.


Currently, I prefer San Francisco for both career and personal reasons, but ultimately, have enjoyed my experience in both cities.


Copyright © 2018 Duke Association for Business Oriented Women.

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