Sydney Pruitt, Analyst in the Healthcare & Life Sciences Group
UNC-Chapel Hill, BA in Economics, Minors in Public Policy and Business Administration
Sydney Pruitt is a second-year analyst in the Harris Williams Healthcare & Life Sciences Group. She joined the firm’s Richmond office after graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill and has participated in the Harris Williams Women’s Leadership Summit and Boot Camp Program.
How did you find your way to Harris Williams?
I was introduced to Harris Williams when I was a sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill. At that point, I knew little about investment banking, so when a friend suggested I apply to the Women's Leadership Summit, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn more about the industry and the firm. The experience exceeded my expectations, and I quickly felt the collaborative and supportive culture at Harris Williams. I was also impressed by the degree of responsibility analysts were given and the wide variety of work that fell within the analyst purview. I left the Summit excited about the prospect of working at a place like Harris Williams, and this feeling only grew when I participated in the M&A Boot Camp Program, a two-week internship for rising seniors.
How did your experience in the Harris Williams M&A Boot Camp Program contribute to your decision to join the firm full time?
Boot Camp was a great learning experience and served as a window into the everyday life of an analyst at Harris Williams. I learned so much about the analyst’s role in M&A and was able to pick up on the quality of the people at Harris Williams, the collaborative environment, and the pervasive culture of mentorship. It was clear that at Harris Williams I would learn from many bright and hardworking people. I could also sense that everyone's opinion—from the analysts to the managing directors—is sought out, valued, and respected.
How have you grown professionally since joining the firm?
Since joining Harris Williams, I have improved my communication skills and my ability to consider the broader context behind quantitative analyses. Communicating effectively—both in writing and verbally— is critical for this job, and articulating my thoughts succinctly is a skill that I've honed. I've also made a concerted effort to understand the context behind quantitative analyses, which has helped me develop a better understanding of the meaning behind the numbers and improved my ability to think critically. All of these skills come into play as I work with my team to create client-facing materials that tell a company’s growth story, analyze financial models, and produce market-facing research.
How have you contributed to the firm outside of deal work?
Outside of deal work, I contribute to the firm's recruiting efforts. I was one of the panelists for this year's Women's Leadership Summit, I have lots of phone chats with current undergrads interested in Harris Williams, and I recently had the opportunity to participate in a guest lecture for a course at UNC-Chapel Hill. I really enjoy serving as a resource for potential Harris Williams analysts and taking the time to answer questions like others did for me.
What is the best piece of career advice you have received?
Seek out mentorship opportunities. One thing I really admire about Harris Williams is how people genuinely care about the career development of others and how willing people are to take time out of their busy schedules to serve as mentors. The vast majority of what I have learned has been from observing approaches of those I work with and then implementing them myself. Whether it be an associate's meticulous approach to tracking diligence requests, a VP's approach to crafting the language in a presentation, or an MD's communication style with the client, I continue to learn from everyone I work with and seek out advice and guidance.
What do you find most rewarding about your role as an analyst?
The variety of new skills I learn and industries I get to touch. Every deal is so different—the industry, the client, the internal deal team, the strategy. This level of variety keeps things interesting and provides excellent learning opportunities. With each deal, I get to dive into the nuances of a new sector within the healthcare space, immersing myself in the trends, data, and market dynamics. And, the lessons I’ve learned from the management teams of each company have been just as diverse and interesting. Each business has their own strengths, challenges, and growth story—and I get to see hear about those firsthand from the company’s leaders.
Go-to activity outside of work: cycling
New quarantine hobby: (re)learning Spanish
First skill mastered at Harris Williams: Excel shortcuts
A leader you admire and why: Barbara Corcoran. In her memoir, she tells the story of when the Shark Tank producers initially rescinded her offer but she refused to accept this and convinced them to let her on the show; that level of confidence is amazing.
Last book you read: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (I love all her books!)
A social cause you care about: equity in literacy education