"Harder to Get There:" Lizarraga on Women Excelling

Patricial Lizarraga says her experience with women CEOs in banking inspired her to create Hypatia Capital.

Finance Reporter
Reviewed by: etf.com Staff
Edited by: James Rubin

As the managing partner and founder of Hypatia Capital, an asset management firm focused on investments in companies with women at the helm, Patricia Lizarraga says that women in leadership roles excel because they have more challenges to overcome. 

“The reason we think women CEOs will outperform is just because it’s harder for them to get there,” she said.

I spoke to her last week about the launch of the Hypatia Women CEO ETF (WCEO), how she broke into the ETF industry, and her best advice for young people in finance. 

Etf.com: What originally sparked your interest in finance?

Lizarraga: I was an econ major in college and at the time there was only one finance class. It was the first year David Swensen came to Yale, and he taught a survey class that was nicknamed ‘Stocks for Jocks’ because it was an overview. I took the class, and he was just an amazing speaker. He was very funny and engaging on how the finance industry worked. He made it seem so exciting, so I started looking into his career. That put me on the path to where I am. Even though I started in M&A and investment banking but over the years my career has morphed more into the investing side.

What made you see the need for an asset manager specifically invested in women leadership?

Early on, I’d say almost 20 years ago, I had my first female CEO client. I was just so impressed by what a well-rounded CEO she was, and I said, ‘I want more clients like that.’ I started realizing that there was data that showed that women in leadership added to the performance of companies. That's when I started developing the investment thesis that women CEOs will outperform. The reason we think women CEOs will outperform is because it's just harder for them to get there, so once they do, they by definition are extraordinary.

What do you see as the biggest wins of your career?

In my career, I have always been an innovator. In the world I want to live in there is equality of opportunity. For me, the most important things I have done and the things I am most proud of are thinking of new ways, both now and in the future, that we can see more equality.

What is the best advice you have to people looking to break in or climb the ranks in the industry?

My advice is always to become very knowledgeable about the data set or the product that you're involved in. [It’s important] to understand what is driving that product and how your point of view can alter the product or the distribution. Once you get deep into the data, bringing your own point of view into that analytical process will take you to a very knowledgeable place. The deeper you can get in the details, especially early in your career, is really important to developing a strong knowledge base.

Contact Lucy Brewster at [email protected].

Lucy Brewster is a finance reporter at etf.com covering asset managers, emerging technologies, and regulation. She hosts etf.com webinars and appears on Exchange Traded Fridays, etf.com’s flagship podcast. She previously was a finance fellow at Fortune Magazine where she covered markets, investment strategy, and venture capital. She has also been a freelancer writer at the publication Mergers & Acquisitions and a research fellow at the Historic Hudson Valley. 

She graduated from Vassar College in 2022 with a degree in History and was an editor of The Miscellany News, the college's award winning student run newspaper. 

Lucy lives in Brooklyn, NY, and in her free time she loves to run and find new recipes to cook.