October 2020 Member Highlight: Melanie Brensinger, Founder & Managing Partner, Anagenesis Capital Partners, LLC
PEWIN member, Ms. Melanie Brensinger is Founder & Managing Partner of Anagenesis Capital Partners, LLC, a healthcare focused private credit fund with over $270MM in AUM. Ms. Brensinger serves on the Boards of various Anagenesis’ portfolio companies. In addition, she is a Board member of the SBIA Board of Governors, Advisory Board member for the Kayo Credit Series and on the Board of The PIT Foundation.
Melanie was nominated by her peers and selected to receive the Gerald L. Phillippe Award for her extraordinary record of volunteer service. She was recognized for advancing the initiatives of The PIT Foundation, volunteering as a Rape Crisis Advocate at Bellevue Hospital and volunteering with The Red Cross Crisis Team. She was one of only nine recipients selected in 2009 for this recognition from over 300,000 GE employees around the world. She was also selected for the GE Women in Commercial Program and attended several Leadership Training Programs at the GE Crotonville Leadership facilities.
An overview of
My first experience in the financial industry was when I was in undergrad and took a job as a bank teller. My curiosity led me to seek an internship in the corporate banking group where I helped originate and underwrite loans for small businesses. I also worked as the manager of the college’s alumni phonathon. This experience taught me about making tough decisions, managing people and how to properly incentivize top performers. During this same time, I was the captain of the soccer team and maintained nearly a 4.0 average with a dual major in Economics and Finance and a minor in Accounting. My years in college taught me several valuable lessons: 1) lead by example, 2) be disciplined, 3) be incredible efficient with time, 4) always be ready for when an opportunity presents itself, 5) be courageous and 6) have fun.
I learned the importance of sponsorship early in my career. The people that I worked with at my bank internship championed for me to be accepted into a highly selective relationship management training program. I asked them why they sponsored me and they said they saw a light in me that deserved to shine and one day I would outshine them. One of the people that sponsored me moved to New York and asked me to move and join his group at a Canadian bank. I picked up and moved to New York for that position and that decision accelerated my career. At that point, I had several years of solid underwriting training and experience and a strong understanding on how to generate deals. I started in the corporate banking group and decided I wanted to transition to the sponsor coverage team. I was told by my group that I was “too green” and was “too young” and I needed to stay longer in corporate banking. I didn’t take “no” for an answer. I made the move and that started my career in working with private equity firms. 21 years later, I am still working with some of those same PE firms.
In Sept 2001, our offices were across the street from the World Trade Center and on the morning of Sept 11th, I was exiting the World Trade Center Path train when the first plane struck the towers. This is when I understood how insignificant day to day challenges are relative to life changing moments. I was fortunate that day and was able to flee with minor injuries. I made the decision to return to the site the next day, as I was a member of the Red Cross Crisis Team and I volunteered at the site for the next 3 days.
I was recruited in 2006 by GE Capital, Healthcare Financial Services Team for my strong relationships with PE firms. During my nine years at GE, I was promoted to Managing Director and originated and closed over 48 new healthcare deals and many other participant transactions aggregating over $2Bn in deal volume.
I knew I needed to recalibrate myself before starting at GE and I decided to volunteer internationally. I embarked on a solo 21-day journey to a remote village outside of Nairobi, Kenya. The inner strength, confidence, gratitude and compassion I gained from this trip was life changing. I met some of the happiest and peaceful people on earth and they literally had nothing but the joy of one another. This journey inspired me to establish The PIT Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit foundation with the mission to provide the basic necessities of life to children so they can focus on their education.
In 2014, we were a few years after the financial crisis of 2008 and the lending market evolved as leveraged lending guidelines caused banks to move up market, reduce leverage and become more rigid. As a result, private credit funds were established and there became a clear distinction between regulated and unregulated lenders. I realized there weren’t any private credit firms that were healthcare focused and had the ability to be flexible across the capital structure. This is when the idea of Anagenesis was developed. With this targeted strategy, I decided to leave GE in 2015 and found Anagenesis Capital Partners to provide flexible capital solutions to healthcare companies. Today, we have over $270MM of AUM and are supporting lower middle market healthcare businesses grow.
I attribute my success to date to being authentic, tenacious, disciplined, honest and genuine, accepting responsibility, being relentless for what I want, acknowledging when “I don’t know”, always remaining curious and willing to help others. I am also a firm believer in treating everyone equally, regardless of their station in life. We are all humans with our own set of strengths and challenges. I was raised by hard working parents that laid the foundation of strong morals, values and character. My brother and I have been successful because of the simple, yet important things they taught us.
Your Biggest Inspiration
Over the years I have intended to curate a group of people, my Trusted Advisors, similar to a Board of Directors. I am very fortunate to have this inspiring, experienced, wise and diverse group of people in my life. I would encourage others to develop a similar group as it is really helpful to have different points of view from people you can trust when faced with opportunities or challenges.
What do you think
is the biggest challenge facing women in finance?
To close the equality gap in the industry we need to focus on diversity, inclusion and equity. If a company only focuses on diversity without having an inclusive culture and providing equity, the paradigm will remain unchanged. I was often the only woman on the team and in the room with clients throughout my career. Although I was there physically, I struggled to experience a sense of belonging as I was not in an inclusive culture. It is difficult to describe the long-term impact of consistently feeling like an outsider and pushing to be accepted on a regular basis. For me, the upside of being ostracized was that it made me a high achiever. I made my colleagues have to recognize me because my performance could not be ignored. The downside for me was years of questioning myself and trying to twist and turn myself to morph into what I thought might be more acceptable until I realized that the problem wasn’t me, it was my professional environment. I came to the realization that unless I was an owner, I was not truly able to drive decisions and ensure fair treatment to everyone and provide opportunities across the organization. Now as an owner and founder of Anagenesis, it is a priority of mine to have a diverse and inclusive culture and provide equity upside for all team members.
What advice can
you provide to women who might be struggling to get to that next role in their
Be authentic and be a clear, assertive communicator. Do not be apologetic for what you want and know you deserve. Also, I would encourage others to be take control of their careers and consider not only short-term goals but longer term what they want to achieve. Always chasing the next role, may be limiting. Think and dream big. I believe life is similar to a marathon chess match. As an athlete, I know the importance of endurance and maintaining a steady pace. As a chess player, strategy and looking at the next several moves vs the next one is critical to success. It is important to be able to say – “I know who I am and what I want to be.”
What are some benefits you’ve gained from PEWIN?
I appreciated that PEWIN provides a forum for senior women to have a candid dialogue with their peers and a network to support each other. Thank you to Paige Daly for nominating me to PEWIN.