“Business, you know, may bring you money, “ Jane Austen wrote, “but friendship hardly ever does.” In other words, don’t work with your friends — unless, Katherine Priestley ’92 might add, they happen to be former Columbia Business School classmates. As cofounder of the alternative asset investment firm Lincoln Vale, Priestley welcomed two friends, Mike Killick ’92 and Greg Ritchie ’92, as business partners.
After studying venture capital at the School and serving as a TA in Professor John Whitney’s turnaround management class, Priestley returned to her native London to serve as CFO of her family’s mineral extraction business. After selling the business in 2005, she cofounded Lincoln Vale, which has five hedge and private equity funds. “What differentiates our business from many within our industry is our focus on next-generation products and ideas,” Priestley says. “Where is the real source of alpha, and how sustainable is this? How can we capture that in fund design?”
Priestley also serves as codirector of KP Productions, a theater and film company that recently produced The World Unseen, an independent film that racked up awards at festivals around the globe. “Our mission is to promote the vision and creative projects of very talented people,” Priestley explains. “In times of difficulty, I think there is a greater need for creative solutions and inspiration.”
As for working with friends, Priestley has no regrets. “Breaking a convention now and then can pay off,” she says.