Women in M&A, emerging voices

Oaklins’ female associates share their insights

At Oaklins, we strive to create a workplace where diversity and equality are more than just ideals — they're integral to our success. The M&A sector has long been male-dominated, but the tide is turning, and we’re determined to accelerate this change.

In this article, we spotlight the voices of our senior associates and associates Amelie Arrazola de Onate, Maren Tietz, Naomi Müller and Petra Hyršlová, whose fresh perspectives and experiences underscore the progress we’re making.


What did you dream of becoming when you were a child? How did those early aspirations evolve into a career in M&A?

AMELIE: I don’t think it would come as a big surprise if I told you that, as a child, I dreamt more about becoming a popstar than an Excel nerd/M&A professional. 😊 I’m not one for strict, well-thought-out plans. Instead, I prefer to see where life takes me. This approach led me to a fulfilling career in M&A.

NAOMI: As a child, I dreamed of becoming a doctor, fascinated by the idea of helping people. Later, I considered becoming a real estate agent. During high school, a side job at a family office sparked my interest in finance. This led me to pursue degrees in Economics and Business Economics, and a master’s in Financial Economics. My academic background and involvement with B&R Beurs, an investment study association, solidified my passion for finance. The strategic and analytical nature of M&A naturally drew me in, aligning with my interests and skills.


MAREN: I wanted to be a veterinarian because I grew up with animals and loved caring for them. I couldn’t imagine a more rewarding career. However, I realized that the job also involved animal suffering, and it wouldn’t always be possible to save them. Unsure of my career path, I pursued a Business degree to keep my options open.


My love for animals has never wavered, so I’m incredibly grateful that, at Oaklins, I found a way to merge my passion for animals with my work in the Pets Industry Group. I’m also happy that my dog is welcomed by my colleagues as an integral part of our team as our office dog. 😊

PETRA: I didn’t have specific career dreams as a child. My interest in finance, business strategy and economics developed during high school and university. After working as a due diligence consultant at a Big 4 firm, I realized I wanted to oversee entire transactions, leading me to pursue a career in M&A.


What does a typical day at the office look like for you?

No two days are the same. Typically, I prepare transaction documents, review financial models, and meet with clients to discuss potential deals. Staying updated on market trends and industry news is also crucial. PETRA HYRŠLOVÁ, ASSOCIATE, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC


How do you see the role of technology and innovation influencing the future of M&A?

NAOMI: Technological advancements are revolutionizing M&A by speeding up analyses and handling more tasks efficiently. This frees up time for strategic and creative work, driving value creation.

M&A professionals must master data analytics for quick insights, adapt to emerging technologies like AI and machine learning, maintain cybersecurity vigilance, excel in digital collaboration, and demonstrate strategic agility in leveraging rapid analyses for optimal decision-making.


What is one personal achievement in your career that you are particularly proud of, and why?

AMELIE: I’m proud of my journey so far. After graduating from university, I did a two-year internship at the bank [of which Oaklins KBC Securities is a part], rotating through four different teams. This gave me the opportunity to figure out what interested me most and where my strengths and drive were most valued. I found my fit in the corporate finance/M&A department, and secured a full-time position in a team that aligns perfectly with my skills and ambitions.


How important is networking in your role, and how do you go about building and maintaining your professional relationships?

NAOMI: Networking is fundamental in my role as it facilitates collaboration, knowledge sharing and professional growth. As I progress in my career, independently sourcing deals becomes increasingly important. I build and maintain professional relationships by participating in industry events and connecting with peers, clients and experts. These interactions keep me informed about industry trends and opportunities, enhancing my contributions to M&A transactions.


Can you describe the culture at Oaklins from your perspective as a junior professional?

AMELIE: Oaklins has a very dynamic environment that defied my expectations of a stiff, male-dominated industry. Our team is young, with an average age of around 35, making it easy to relate to colleagues. It’s a place where you feel you belong, and social activities are common.

NAOMI: The culture is indeed dynamic and entrepreneurial, fostering growth and collaboration. The flat organizational structure promotes open communication and encourages initiative at all levels. This setup allows juniors like me to interact closely with senior colleagues, fostering mentorship and enabling meaningful contributions to projects early on.

Oaklins’ commitment to diversity and inclusion creates an environment where women have equal opportunities for advancement.


How do you contribute to team dynamics and culture at Oaklins/in your office?

MAREN: Diverse teams have consistently been shown to perform better in various scientific studies, and I’ve observed this firsthand in our daily work. Our team thrives on the diverse backgrounds and expertise of each member. This diversity allows us to balance strengths and weaknesses effectively, resulting in consistently superior outcomes. By leveraging the unique strengths of each team member, we enhance our overall performance and achieve the best results.


What would you like to achieve in your life? How do you plan to achieve these career goals?

MAREN: My longer-term goal is to attain a leadership position, preferably here at Oaklins where diversity is highly valued. My strategy to achieve this goal involves pursuing daily, incremental objectives, and striving for excellence to continuously enhance my personal and professional skills.


Have you had any mentors? How have they helped shape your career?


NAOMI: Mentors have been incredibly influential in my career. I was fortunate to meet someone during my high school period, who has been a guiding force in both my educational and professional journey. Their mentorship provided invaluable insights and support, allowing me to discuss various aspects of my education and career openly and seek guidance on important decisions.

Additionally, in my still relatively short career, I have several seniors whom I consider mentors. They generously dedicate their time to discuss a wide range of topics with me, offering mentorship that goes beyond technical skills to encompass strategic thinking, leadership development and navigating the complexities of the finance industry.


These mentors have played a pivotal role in providing guidance, encouragement and constructive feedback, which have helped me navigate challenges, seize opportunities and continuously grow both personally and professionally. I am deeply grateful for their mentorship.


What advice would you give to other young women considering a career in M&A or currently starting out in this field?

AMELIE: Take the leap and try it! A male-dominated industry might seem intimidating, but we’re all just people who share the same interests and drive. Personally, I don’t see my colleagues as ‘them’ (men) vs. ‘me’ (woman). We’re one big team with diverse personalities who support each other towards common goals. The current lack of gender equality also creates opportunities. Women add immense value with different perspectives and ideas, which are genuinely appreciated. And if there’s ever an ‘alpha’ moment, I’m sure any woman can handle it effortlessly! 😉

My advice is straightforward: embrace the opportunities with confidence. Don’t let being a woman limit you; the M&A industry can be just as empowering for women as it is for men. Seek mentors, build a strong network, stay curious and committed to learning, and embrace challenges as opportunities for growth. Actively support other women to foster a more inclusive workplace. These steps will help you thrive and have a significant impact in your M&A career. NAOMI MÜLLER, ASSOCIATE, AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS

PETRA: I could not agree more with Naomi. Be confident in your abilities and don’t hesitate to seek advice. Build a strong network and keep learning. Take on challenging projects and make your voice heard.


What hobbies or interests do you pursue outside of work that help you stay balanced and motivated?

MAREN: My hobbies often fall into what are traditionally seen as ‘male’ categories. I love automobiles, riding motorcycles and playing football whenever I can. These interests highlight that traditional gender roles are increasingly outdated in today’s world.

PETRA: My greatest hobby, which recharges me, is traveling. It allows me to explore new places and cultures, which I find incredibly enriching. I also balance my workload with beach volleyball, cycling, hiking in summer, and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and reading in winter. Additionally, I cherish evenings with good food, wine, friends and family. These activities keep me physically active and mentally refreshed.


What changes do you hope to see in the M&A industry in the coming years, particularly regarding gender equality and opportunities for women?

I hope to see significant progress in gender equality and opportunities for women in M&A. I want more women to choose the field, even if they feel apprehensive about the male-dominated environment. It’s important that women already in the industry support each other. The industry must continue breaking down barriers and providing equal opportunities for leadership and career advancement. MAREN TIETZ, ASSOCIATE, FRANKFURT, GERMANY
Amelie arrazoladeonate
Amelie Arrazola de Onate Brussels, Belgium
Senior Associate
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Maren tietz
Maren Tietz Frankfurt, Germany
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Naomi muller
Naomi Müller Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Petra lancuchova
Petra Hyršlová Prague, Czech Republic
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About Oaklins

United by a strong belief that we can achieve the extraordinary. Oaklins is a global team of 800+ financial advisory professionals in 40 countries. By seamlessly collaborating across borders, we use our global strength in sell- and buy-side mergers and acquisitions, debt, growth equity and equity capital markets advisory. Great teamwork and collaboration combined with deep industry knowledge are the foundation for our success.

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