Q&A with Mercatus Strategic Advisory Board Member Assunta Gaglione-Austin

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Earlier this year we formed a Strategic Advisory Board made up of experienced technology and investment professionals in the private markets. In this series, we’ll get to know each one a little bit better.

Assunta Gaglione Austin
Assunta Gaglione-Austin

Assunta Gaglione-Austin is the former co-CTO of KKR & Co. Inc., where she led a global technology team responsible for enterprise technology strategy and execution for the $200B AUM global asset management firm. During her decades of experience in the financial services industry, Assunta built innovative, industry-level-award-winning software for different functions, including sales and deal pipeline management, client portals, data engineering, automated listed equity trading and private markets portfolio company data aggregation, analytics and reporting.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in investment management and more specifically the private markets? 

I was looking for something new mid-career. The public markets were commoditizing and under increasing regulatory scrutiny. The private markets were fascinating. There is real adrenaline around deal-making. It has been challenging and rewarding to apply technology to a relatively lower volume, higher margin business.

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing technology leaders in the private markets today?

There are so many stakeholders. Data management is harder to get right when you have that many voices in the conversation. It’s not impossible, it’s just harder because you need to understand multiple perspectives to design something relevant and lasting.

What advice would you give to an asset manager that is just beginning to embark on finding a data management solution?

Start small, get feedback and iterate. Use platforms that are configurable and partners you trust, because change is inevitable and you’ll want help.

“Data as a competitive edge” is a great soundbite. From your experience, what are the tangible benefits to better data management, and why does this matter?

Generally speaking, the private markets attract people with incredible raw intellect and analytical capabilities. And yet we too often hear people are spending time gathering, cleansing and reviewing data before applying their skills to what really matters – insight and decision-making. What a waste of talent, energy and comp dollars. Better data management gives an organization an edge by unleashing that intellect in strategic and differentiating ways.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working? 

Food sourcing, understanding foodways, cooking and enjoying food and drink with others.

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