Bain Capital’s Adriana Rojas Talks Leadership and Passion

Adriana Rojas on becoming an in-house leader and her passion for empowering other young Latinas

“I am the oldest child of two Colombian immigrants who never went to college. Even so, education was the most important thing in our household. We went to parochial school and private school and there was never a question of what was next—we knew we would go to college. I got a scholarship to Boston College and took out some loans to pay for the rest. Graduating from college and then furthering my education was a big deal to my family, who sacrificed so much.

After college, I took a job as an assistant buyer for FAO Schwarz in New York. I worked there two years, then decided to go back to school. I had always thought it would be interesting to be a lawyer, and several of my friends went to law school. So, I applied to and was accepted at Boston College Law School. My first job was as a corporate associate for a midsize law firm in Boston. I did that for a couple of years but didn’t love it.

Bain Capital

HQ: Boston, MA
Founded: 1984
Assets under management:    Approximately $80 billion
Number of employees:    Approximately 950
Number of offices: 13, with locations in the US (4 offices), London, Munich, Tokyo, Shanghai, Mumbai, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Dublin, and Melbourne
Notable investments: Bain Capital has invested in some of the world’s best-known brands including Staples, Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Bright Horizons, and  Dunkin’ Donuts.
Giving back: Bain Capital Children’s Charity has benefited over 350 organizations that support and care for children.

Bain Capital, founded by politician Mitt Romney and partner Bill Bain, is a global alternative investment firm. It specializes in private equity, venture capital, credit products, and absolute return investments. Bain Capital invests across a range of industry sectors and geographic regions.

Then I spent almost two years at a nonprofit community development corporation in Boston called Neighborhood of Affordable Housing. I helped people modify their mortgages so they wouldn’t go into foreclosure—I helped them understand what they were signing. Most clients were native Spanish speakers, so it was a challenge learning all of the legal documents and trying to figure out a way to translate it into “non-legalese” Spanish. It was very different from working at a law firm. I’m a people person, so I enjoyed working closely with the clients. My work involved a lot of negotiating with banks, and I found that my law firm skills were transferable. It was rewarding work, but it was very draining, too. So, I started looking for a new job.

A recruiter got me an interview at Bain Capital. I didn’t hear back from them for about six months—but the recruiter assured me they were still interested. They eventually did call me back for a second interview. Now that I’ve been working here for a while, I see that’s just how they do it. They take their time and interview extensively to make sure it’s a good fit.

Bain Capital is a private investment firm, now in its 30th year. The company started as a single-fund, single-asset class firm and now manages about $80 billion in assets. My title is assistant general counsel. I’m in the Capital Markets Group, which includes the three public side business units: Absolute Return Capital, Brookside Capital, and Sankaty Advisors. My responsibilities include monitoring and reporting securities positions as well as managing the review of all research/service contracts, nondisclosure agreements, and general contracts that come in.

In the five years I’ve been here, my responsibilities have continued to expand. This firm really lets you explore new areas to see what interests you. There’s flexibility to do that. For example, we used to use outside vendors and outside counsel to handle filings, but I had that function moved in-house. I provide training on this. It is much more efficient. Now, I’m starting to get into fund formation work. There’s a whole team involved. The team comes up with ideas for new funds, then we [the legal team] work with outside counsel on drafting the documents for those new funds.

This job is different every day. That has helped me develop the ability to think outside the box and has made me see how important it is to really consider the effects of my decisions. I’ve also learned that you can’t always know everything. So, it’s okay to say you don’t know the answer to a question, but you will get back to them later.

One of my biggest challenges in life was that, since my parents didn’t go to college, I didn’t have role models for professional careers in my family. I had to find mentors and advisors who understood my background. I have had some very good mentors. There are so many smart, wonderful people working at Bain Capital. I want to learn as much as possible from them. I also joined ALPFA [the Association of Latino Professions for America], which has a large membership in Boston. I found several good mentors there. I’m now on the national board for ALPFA.

I feel it’s important for me to mentor and give back to the community, too. When my law school reaches out, I’m happy to go talk to the students. But my main focus is helping young Latinas. I want to convey the message that they should shoot for the moon. They can’t let themselves be limited by preconceived notions or by people telling them they can’t do something. I tell them it takes a lot of work, and they’ll need help along the way—from friends and mentors pushing and pulling them up. And I tell them not to be afraid to ask questions. I want them to know that everything is possible for them.

I work with students at Esperanza Academy, an all-girls school for grades five through eight. The school is funded totally through donations. One of the things I do is invite the girls to Bain Capital when we have “shadow” days. The girls come to work and see all the opportunities available to them. I also run in the Boston Marathon for the Bottom Line organization, which helps first-generation students get into college.

Because of my background, I bring a different perspective to Bain Capital, and I think it’s appreciated. This is truly my dream legal job.”