Celebrating International Women’s Day with PitchBook partner Michelle Wie West

Michelle Wie West is a PitchBook partnership and visited our Seattle office for International Women’s Day. Michelle spoke to us about her experiences being a woman in a male-dominated industry like professional golf and investing. PitchBook’s Senior Directors, Brand Kate Long & JoAnne Baldwin sat down to have a conversation about returning to work after being a mother, finding balance and speaking up, as well as the importance of having open conversations about mental health and her experiences as an investor. Here are some highlights.

It was like going back on tour after having a daughter.

It’s an odd transition from being a fulltime athlete to being a professional and mother. One, my body had changed to serve another purpose, and that was something I appreciated so much. It’s amazing to see what our bodies can achieve! However, it was hard to get in shape again. I realized how self-centered it was. It was once all I cared about, but now it’s all my daughter. Her needs always come first.

I took my little girl with me to one of the first tournaments. She got sick while staying in the hotel daycare. The daycare worker came to my course to inform me. I’ve never felt more guilt! It was hard. I felt guilty. I have been able to watch her cheer from the gallery every day since and it has lifted my spirits.

All parents transitioning into professional and parent roles, I want to say this: Be aware that there will both good days as well as bad. Give yourself time.

“All parents who have to transition into the dual role parent-professional I’d suggest that you know there will be good times and bad days. Give yourself grace and patience. ”

What inspired and motivated you to speak out against Rudy Giuliani’s crude and objectifying comments last summer?

Growing up in Asia, we are often taught to be modest and quiet. As a result, when people call me “babe” or get handsy in photos, I’ve always tried to be kind. I knew this was not something I could let go of. If you want to make a difference for your daughter or other young women’s lives, then everyone must hold themselves accountable.

Speaking up was definitely outside my comfort zone. I was terrified to write the statement. I was scared to hit send. But, I felt empowered and relieved by the end of the day.

I would encourage anyone in similar circumstances to do their best. Keep their eyes fixed on the horizon. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel if you speak up. Take a look at who you’re supporting and why. This mindset helps you do the right and makes it much easier. This mindset is self-perpetuating once you have stood up for yourself. You can break through the barrier by taking that first bold step.

You will only be able to stand up for what you believe in once. The barrier can be broken by just taking one bold step. ”

It’s becoming more common for professional athletes to have and support open dialogue regarding mental health. What are your thoughts?

Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, as well as others who have made bold moves to start the conversation on mental illness in professional sports, are my admiration. While I wish that it had been more open when I was younger, I feel like I would have had a better experience. I’m grateful for close friends, who are not golfers, to whom I could turn.

As athletes, it is expected that we present an iron-clad, tough facade. It is common to accept physical injury, but it is not accepted that mental or emotional problems can occur. Pro athletes have a difficult life because of the extremes and highs that they experience under the spotlight.

No matter what level of athlete you are, it is essential to be able talk about your emotions and reach out for support. This doesn’t make one weak or strange. It is important to have these conversations in order to normalize and prioritize mental well-being.

Your profession has been vocal in addressing the issue of equal pay for women. Tell us more.

Only 4% are women’s sporting events covered on the key networks. The coverage of women’s golf, in particular, is much less well-resourced. Many cameras are on the course at the PGA. The coverage is extremely dynamic and feels very fast-paced. LPGA tours are not covered by as many cameras. This makes it seem slow-paced, even though there are plenty of them. It’s a tough battle. If everything was equal, it would be very different. It’s very difficult to move the needle and get more viewers if you don’t invest in the tournaments.

Conversations such as this one, which bring awareness of the problem, and sponsors like PitchBook which value women will be key in leveling out the pay playing fields in sports and other paid professional positions.

“Conversations similar to this one-that bring awareness to the issue-and sponsor like PitchBook, who value women, will be key for leveling the play in sports and professional positions. ”

You’ve done much to support women in golf and sports. What do YOU think is preventing women from playing sports?

This is what I did in college. Our society and culture discourage girls from being active at a young age. It starts with toys. We give boys a different type of toy, and we begin boxing girls in early childhood. This cycle continues into adulthood. This is how you get rid of any barriers that may be preventing you from pursuing your dreams.

What inspired you as an investor?

Even Spiegel (the founder of Snapchat) was my Stanford classmate. Silicon Valley was just beginning. I always wanted a part of a startup but was too busy with golf. Being an angel investor allows you to make use of your resources to help others. PitchBook is a great resource. I go to meetings ready with deep insight on the space and the founder.

At the end I want to make investments in companies with strong founding families. I want my investment to support women and minorities who work hard and help them succeed. I am delighted to partner up with a company, which supports these groups and values them.

How would you advise your 16-yearold self?

Remember to wear your retainer. You don’t have to apologize every time.

Do not be afraid, however, to go with your gut. I found it easier to stay at school than to go to college fulltime. This was in contrast to “how it’s supposed be” for professional sports. I’m glad I did it. It has made me more knowledgeable and gives me hope for the future.

Michelle has been a winner since her childhood. In today’s world, winning doesn’t just mean being a mother, advocate or investor. It is about supporting people she believes in, making wise investment decisions and having a positive effect on the future.

PitchBook holds the fundamental belief that people can do and create great stuff and are the cornerstone for prosperity. Prosperity implies greater wellbeing, personal, professional, and social growth, excellence in self-actualization, agency, and self-actualization.

We are proud to be Michelle’s partner and grateful for the opportunity to have this thoughtful conversation in celebration International Women’s Day.

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