Women in Leadership: Carol Bramson

Carol Bramson, Entrepreneur, Private Equity (BUS '89)Carol Bramson
Entrepreneur, Private Equity,
Investor and CEO
(BUS ’89)

The style of culture I like to put in place is focused on transparency and employee empowerment.”

From her first job at a venture capital company that invested in health care to her latest challenge as CEO of a natural pet food business, Carol Bramson has made a career out of keeping others healthy.

Growing up in a health-focused household, she developed positive habits that she still maintains today. From clean eating to running, cycling and yoga, Bramson stays active in her personal life to help her stay sharp in her
profes­sional life. This health and wellness orientation made her a great match for her first job at a venture capital firm. “I just loved that we were investing in health-care-focused businesses that had a direct and positive impact on people’s lives.”

When First Chicago Equity Capital recruited her into a leadership-training program for her next job, she found fast success, impressing a supervisor who became a mentor. “He basically walked me over to the head of the private equity group and gave me a glowing reference,” recalls Bramson.

After returning from maternity leave a couple of years later, she became a partner in that group—the only woman in a practice of six. Although outnumbered by her male colleagues, Bramson remembers a supportive environment. “The culture of the group was about empowerment and teamwork. It felt like a family, and we were able to accomplish great things together.”

Bramson went on to build an exciting career by finding opportunities that matched her values and vision. Sometimes she found it in existing companies; other times she had to build opportunity by creating a culture of employee empowerment and innovation. “I consider myself a business builder, and for me, aligning a company’s culture with the vision and mission is an incredibly powerful experience.”

When she jumped from board member to CEO of a juvenile products company, she found some staff had lost their voice, and it was up to her to reinvigorate them. “To me, not having these brilliant engineers feel empowered enough to confidently speak their minds and share their personal and professional opinions was a great disservice to the business and their colleagues. We quickly moved to change that and it had a significant impact on the turnaround of the company.”

“The style of culture I like to put in place is focused on transparency and employee empowerment,” says Bramson. “We can talk about anything—and we should. Every environment I’m in represents an opportunity to seek out talent and to support those people to bring out their best.”

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