Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2013

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: http://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/169650

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Page 48 of 71

L ynn Tilton saves dying companies. Since 2000, her private equity company, Patriarch Partners, through the funds it manages, has bought and restructured more than 150 distressed manufacturing businesses and, in most cases, made them proftable—in the process preserving more than 250,000 jobs. Today, Patriarch Partners and its afliates manage 75 companies in 14 diferent industries, with revenue of more than $8 billion. Tis portfolio of companies constitutes the largest woman-owned business in the United States. According to ABC News, which has reviewed her personal fnancial records, Tilton, 54, is a billionaire—one of only a handful of self-made female billionaires in the country. It is not her fortune, however, that she cares about. She has never desired to be defned by her wealth, and it's not her motivating force. Her work, she says, is mission driven. Her audacious goal is no less than reviving the American manufacturing base. So, in perusing the many press clips about Lynn Tilton, what would you expect the focus of these profles to be? Her extraordinary rise from a modest middle-class background in the Bronx, New York, and Teaneck, New Jersey, to the peak of the business world? Her one-woman quest to restore manufacturing in America? Nope. Instead, the press focuses on her leather wardrobe, fve-inch stilettos, and sometimes salty language. Or her tough-as-nails management style, which can politely be called "my way or the highway." Tere is good reason for that. Lynn Tilton, recipient of the Diversity Woman Mosaic Woman Legend Award, may be one of the most polarizing CEOs in the United States. Her success is unquestioned. But some consider her methods controversial. Tilton doesn't deny that she's unconventional and sometimes deliberately attention getting, but she insists that the criticisms of her style are largely a function of the male-dominated fnancial industry that simply can't handle a successful woman operating on her own terms. "I think I am judged diferently because I'm a woman," she says. "If I was a man, I would be seen as rose petals softly falling from the heavens. Te reality is, we have people's lives in our hands. Tis is not about crunching numbers. When we di ve rs i tywoma n.com don't do what we need to do, companies fail and people get hurt. I need people who work for me to understand that it is not about them. In the end, I need people who are mission oriented. Tis is a business, but it is also a mission." L ynn Tilton Fact Number 1: Her story is a product of the American dream. Tilton's father's parents emigrated from Russia, and her father grew up during the Great Depression. He became a public school teacher and drilled into Tilton that, with education, everything and anything is possible in the great meritocracy in America. Tilton was his golden child and took his words to heart. She believes she was destined to do something special. So what if she was born in the Bronx? She had an immigrant family's chutzpah and her father in her corner. She made her way to Yale University on an athletic and academic scholarship, where she majored in American studies and was a nationally-ranked tennis player. Te sky was limitless. Ten the sky lowered. Her father died of a brain tumor during her junior year. "Once I lost my father, my world crumbled," she says. "My family was afraid; I had a younger brother who needed support. I was catapulted into adulthood. Tat was the starkest moment of my life. I learned that when you lose that sturdy foundation of family, a working parent, everything can fall apart." Later, when Tilton formed Patriarch Partners with the mission of reviving manufacturing jobs, her personal understanding of the devastation that results from the loss of a working parent became her driving force. Her father's background has also been formative. Today, she likes to hire immigrants, she says, because they have the passion and work ethic to succeed. And she named her company Patriarch Partners in honor of her father. When her father died, Tilton grew up quickly. She had entered college with the goal of becoming a writer. Instead, she married her high-school sweetheart, had a child in her frst year out of school, and made a beeline for Wall Street to Fa ll 2 0 1 3 DI VE R SIT Y W OM AN 47

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