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Shayla Burnham

New York
Shayla Burnham - Advent International Tech team member

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Shayla has worked on Advent’s investment in Iodine Software.

I thought I’d be doing something completely different.

If you had asked me what I’d be doing six or seven years ago, I would have said I would be in a completely different field. I graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Public Policy and Leadership, and thought I wanted to go to law school or pursue a career in government. I started learning about internships at UVA and did a few sales and consulting placements in the summers. Prior to that, I had been blowing up balloons at Party City for an hourly wage. My internships opened my eyes to the world of business – I loved the responsibility and the opportunity to learn a lot in a short period of time. These experiences allowed me to build a great toolkit, and I haven’t looked back since.

I wanted to drink from the fire hose.

After graduating, I joined Bain & Company in New York (and later San Francisco) to learn more about the world of business. When I started, they asked me whether I wanted to do general management consulting or join the private equity practice. Knowing nothing about finance, I decided to dive headfirst into the PE group – I wanted to drink from the fire hose. I loved my time there but realized that a management consultant’s view of a private equity investment is only a small slice of the whole pie. That realization led me to private equity recruiting and ultimately to Advent.

I’m building this path for my four younger sisters.

I’m one of five girls from a small town called Mechanicsburg in Pennsylvania. My dad repaired forklifts and my mom looked after us – there was never much money. I had a pretty clear choice: I was either going to stay in that small town or work really hard, be resilient, persevere, and make something of myself. It all comes down to self-motivation – my parents always struggled to provide for us and better themselves. I’ve been lucky to have the opportunities I’ve had. I want to serve as a guiding light for my sisters to get into college, find something that they enjoy, get good jobs, and make a difference in the world. It’s what matters most to me.

Do you risk your life and go to the top – or do you go back down?

I just hiked Mount Whitney with my boyfriend. We set off late and were hit by lightning storms a mile from the top. It was terrifying but we had to decide whether to continue. In that moment, I was trying to be risk averse, but then the competition got the better of me. How can you make it one mile from the summit and not go to the top?