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Savannah Willis

Palo Alto
Savannah Willis

Finance and technology have always gone hand in hand

From early on, I thought I was going to do something in business – I had discussed it with my family growing up. Although I knew I wanted to study finance, I also wanted to do something different too. When I went to UGA, I added a computer science major as well, to get some STEM exposure. I liked it a lot: I found it exciting and challenging and was surprised by how it taught me to think differently. I think it has given me a distinctive approach to problem solving. If I wasn’t doing finance, I might have wanted to be a college professor in computer science. Like business, it’s dynamic and changing all the time.

My background gave me a taste for adventure

I’ve always been adventurous and free-spirited, and I’ve never been scared to try new things. That’s due to my background. I moved around a lot growing up because my dad was always open to taking new jobs and to new experiences. At UGA, I studied abroad in Oxford. It was amazing – I lived in a house with 40 other students, took classes in environmental economics and international business, and leaped at the opportunity to travel all around Europe. I visited a coal mine in Wales, went to the headquarters of top consulting firms in London, and saw Scotland, Spain, and Croatia. When I came from New York to San Francisco to work at Advent Tech, I didn’t know anyone here. But given my experiences, I didn’t find it scary to move here by myself.

I chose a private equity career to get under the hood of business

I got a lot of modeling and valuation experience during my time in banking, but I wanted to go deeper. Instead of just passing diligence questions back and forth, I wanted to be asking those questions myself, figuring out what makes a good business and how world-class management teams operate. That was the attraction of private equity.

Advent brought some surprises

Coming from one of the largest banks in the world, I expected Advent to feel smaller, but we've got such a big footprint. The firm is truly global: at training I got to meet people from so many different countries, across Europe, South America, and Asia. From the beginning, you’re expected to form an opinion. Even if you're a new associate and you're still learning, they want to push you. You’re not just here to build models in excel; people want to hear what you have to say.