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Luke McKenna

New York
Luke McKenna

My earliest ambition was to be an inventor

I remember inventing a toothbrush that dispensed toothpaste and being disappointed when I found it already existed in a travel catalog. I must have been five years old. I was lucky early on to have some internships that really shaped my interests. Early on, I spent a summer at the Caltech and UCLA tech transfer offices, and found I loved the whole way that companies brought technology to society and changed it. I then interned at an aerospace company, working in its corporate development and treasury departments on commercial satellite launches and satellite servicing. I found I liked the financial aspect and went on to internships at a mid-market private equity fund and then an investment bank. I came back full time to join Evercore’s technology team.

Advent felt like a match made in heaven for me

Although I knew I wanted to do tech private equity, I originally thought I wanted to do growth investing. Then I wasn’t so sure: maybe I should be aiming for buyouts or later-stage. Advent was such a terrific opportunity because it offered both opportunities. The culture here is a true differentiator, and it’s a great environment for anyone who loves learning. People are very warm and willing to answer questions – though of course, you have to do your homework too!

The data team gives Advent an impressive edge

I’ve already been able to draw on the Advent People Network, a great tool developed by the data team that helps to catalogue who knows who. It’s valuable for pulling up contacts: it gives you the power to reach out to someone if anyone at Advent has communicated with them previously. Data is also crucial when it comes to diligence. At the moment, everybody’s talking about AI, but how many companies are genuinely using AI tools to fuel growth? There could be a situation where a company is saying, hey, we’re on the bleeding edge of AI and we use it heavily in our processes. Advent’s data team can jump in and verify whether this is really the case, or if they’re overselling it.

Away from the office, I like to spend time cooking and baking

It’s a good de-stresser, and I can make decent brownies and cookies. I love to get people together and cook for them. I also do a little volunteer work at a nursing home on the Upper East Side – helping with arts and crafts— and I’ve started getting involved with a hospital that provides long-term care for profoundly disabled children. These are people who have so much to offer, but you have to spend time with them to understand them better. I’m really hoping I can devote more time to that.