Armando Gamboa is the chief legal officer at PGIM Private Capital (PPC), leading a team of fifteen lawyers and six paralegals working on investments, investment products, and regulatory matters. PPC is the private capital arm of PGIM that, as of March 2023, is the $1.2 trillion global investment management business of Prudential Financial Inc. With more than two decades of experience as an attorney and an executive, he’s looking to help new graduates and young professionals get the same opportunities he’s had.
“I’ve been lucky enough to get to where I am, and I think it’s important that the next generation doesn’t look at the world and say, ‘Well, I can’t achieve that.’ Because there are people who can help them and are looking to pull them forward,” he says.
He’s done that on several fronts. His efforts as a Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois Charities (HLAI Charities) board member have helped raise scholarship money for students preparing for the bar exam and the LSAT. For reference, in 2023, a first attempt to take the LSAT and its related fees can add up to about $400, while the bar exam in Chicago is currently priced at $950. As the head of a team of individuals in different stages of their lives and careers, he has taken a nuanced approach to engaging each team member, constantly finding ways to support their interests. And he has done the same thing for mentees throughout the decades of his career.
“There’s not a one-size-fit-all answer for everyone,” he says. “I try to listen to what’s important to everyone, whether it’s a career aspiration or something going on in their personal life, and I try to help them along whatever that path looks like.”
Examples of Success
Gamboa’s strong desire to uplift others traces back to his family. His parents, who immigrated to the US from Mexico, emphasized the value of an education, hard work, and doing the right thing.
“As immigrants, my parents worked long hours and wanted to do the best for our family to make sure we got what we needed and had a better life,” he says. “From an early age, that drive showed me that if I wanted to succeed, I’d need to do the same thing. My parents also instilled in me the importance of an education as a means to success.”
His parents weren’t his only examples of success. When he spent his summers in Mexico, he’d often visit an uncle who inspired him to consider a career in law. Gamboa remembers visiting his uncle’s office and being impressed by his collection of diplomas and books. Those trips planted a seed inside him.
“I knew that one day, maybe I could be a lawyer too,” he says.
Outside of work, Armando Gamboa takes pride in his work with the American College of Investment Counsel (ACIC), where he became a board member and president. Founded in 1981 by lawyers from private practice and financial institutions, the ACIC offers a forum for legal issues arising in investment financing. The organization has more than four hundred members representing over three hundred law firms and institutions.
“Organizations like this are a great way to not only meet other people in the industry but can provide a good training ground for leadership skills,” he says. “As cochair of the drafting committee, I learned organizational skills and through rounds of negotiating documents, some people skills as well. I look back fondly on those experiences and am grateful for a colleague who inspired me to get involved.”
He went on to get an accounting and finance degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago before getting his law degree at the University of Illinois College of Law. After that, he joined global law firm Mayer Brown as a transactional lawyer. His early days in that role were spent in both the corporate finance and Latin American practice groups. Those spaces allowed him to marry his business, legal, and Hispanic background to drive results for the firm’s clients while getting in touch with his roots. He often found himself working with people in Latin America, reading documents, and having discussions in Spanish.
While that role was a good fit for him, it did pose its challenges—particularly in the early part of his career.
“I was a very good law student. Law school gave me a great foundation for critical thinking, but back then most courses were really slanted to train litigators,” the chief legal officer says. “For folks who wanted to be business lawyers, there weren’t too many specific courses that prepared you for the day-to-day practice. In my field, there were no classes on how to draft a credit agreement, what the provisions in a credit agreement meant or how to draft a private placement memorandum.”
He navigated that by simply doing the work and learning from his mistakes. He also wasn’t afraid to ask questions and lean on colleagues that wanted to see him succeed.
“I was pretty lucky to work with firm partners who had patience and were willing to impart their knowledge,” he recalls. “Sometimes that came in the form getting a chance to draft something I hadn’t done before and receiving back a heavy markup. But I believe the best way to learn is by doing.”
From there, he had a brief stint at another Chicago law firm before being approached by a recruiter about a position at PGIM Private Capital.
Gamboa was drawn to the company’s collaborative culture and the prospect of putting his corporate finance skill set into practice as an in-house attorney. When he reflects on the twenty years that ensued, he takes pride on the work he’s done. He started his career at PPC working on private credit investments and over time, he became involved in regulatory aspects of the company’s business, establishing offices in Italy, Australia, and Mexico, and even worked on a contingency plan in Europe amid the Brexit talks. Now, he spends a large portion of his time on developing investment products, which he was not involved with five years ago.
To be successful in those efforts, Gamboa had to be curious and open to differences.
“When you’re working on investments in the US, there’s a certain framework you are familiar with,” he says. “But when you are working on investments in another country that has a different legal and regulatory framework, you have to have help the business side translate what those differences mean and how that can impact the investment.”
Today, Gamboa is helping PPC navigate a transformation. When he started, the company was an insurance private placement investor with one corporate mezzanine fund. Now PPC is a broader private credit investor investing in many different asset classes and exploring new asset classes, while also looking to increase its product offerings to investors.
During his tenure at the company, the legal field has changed a lot, too.
“There weren’t too many Hispanic attorneys when I first started,” he says.
However, over the past few decades, the number of lawyers of color (including Hispanics) has gradually increased, a trend that continued from 2012 to 2022. Lawyers of color were 12 percent of the profession in 2012 and 19 percent a decade later. Gamboa is happy to see that progress, including at PGIM. In 2021, the company made a $200 million commitment to private equity investments focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Diversity at PGIM
- 53% diverse employees globally
- $7.4 billion of company capital deployed to impact investments
- 39% female employees globally
- 33% ethnically diverse employees
In a press release PGIM Investment Vice President Cherrise Cederqvist said the goal of that commitment is to provide opportunity “for segments that often face challenges in the fundraising process, while also maintaining the rigorous investment standards we’re known for.”
For Gamboa, efforts like that speak to the company’s mission to open doors for underrepresented groups.
“We want to build a path for there to be more diversity in law firms and in organizations like Prudential,” he says. “While it’s important to get diversity of ideas, people, and experiences, there’s also something to looking around the table and seeing others who look like you that gives you that extra feeling of comfort and belonging.”
He advises the next generation of leaders to “take on challenges, even if you feel a bit stretched.” He admits that it’s something he’s continuing to work on today.
“The center of our law department is based in Newark, New Jersey, so since I’m based in Chicago, I’ve had to find opportunities to connect with the broader organization,” he says. “One of the things I would try to do when I traveled to Newark is schedule brief meetings with people. As an introvert, that’s not the easiest thing to do, but I took it upon myself to be brave and meet new people.”
Chapman and Cutler LLP is a law firm focused on finance with one of the most comprehensive institutional finance practices in the US. Our work in private placements, lending, leasing, and other specialty finance covers a wide range of asset classes and capital structures. Learn more at chapman.com.
Akin is proud to support Armando Gamboa, chief legal officer for PGIM Private Capital, and congratulates him on this well-deserved recognition. Future-focused and dedicated to excellence, Akin is an elite international law firm that helps clients anticipate what is next and navigate a path to success.