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Ilina Dutt

  • Programme: Masterclass in Private Equity
  • Nationality: American
  • Job Post-programme: Head Of Private Investments & Strategic Client Services, BigSur Partners


“Understanding how PE managers evaluate IPOs, trade exits, and other buyouts to maximise return means that now, when I’m evaluating funds, I ask far more detailed questions of my own.”

Asked about her preconceptions of the Masterclass in Private Equity, Ilina Dutt laughs and says that before she came to LBS, she didn’t know much about the PE programme. “I knew that LBS had a reputation as a top business school, but I had no idea how much I would be able to directly apply from this particular programme to my portfolio approach.”  

Invited to attend the Masterclass by PE research firms she had worked with, Ilina joined alongside selected representatives from 30 other Latin American investment institutions. This led to an eager and shared best practice learning environment. “The diverse perspectives were great, a combination of Brazilian, Chilean, Colombian, Mexican, and Argentine participants,” Ilina says. “I was the only American. Then there was the wonderful professional mix of pension funds and family offices: from people like me who had made a few investments, to beginners, to people who had been in the industry for years.” 

Ilina’s professors offered valuable real-world insight. “As an investor, I have lots of experience evaluating managers, but getting an inside perspective really helped. Professor Eli Talmor was insistent that we learn to understand the role of senior partners – how they use their influence with government, how they impact legislation, how they leverage their industry relationships and whether they use outside consultants.” 

Case studies were also critical. “We spent time talking about different portfolio companies, and how people both help and hurt them. Looking at how real people manage their companies was incredibly helpful.” In one study the class analysed an exit request made by a contracting services company. “Understanding how those PE managers evaluate IPOs, trade exits, and other buyouts to maximise return means that now, when I’m evaluating funds, I ask far more detailed questions of my own.”

Ilina found the introductory sessions a great refresher, and uses them to good effect when positioning PE to her new clients. “I also asked a lot of questions about qualitative and quantitative screening,” she says. “I came back to my firm and improved our due diligence process for investing in private equity funds. I got great ideas on widening the scope of my PE investment sourcing of new funds and managers, and quant measures to improve my investment screening process.”

Thanks to her self-confessed goal of becoming the “ultimate manager of the PE and alternative asset portfolio”, Ilina has now applied to the LBS full-time MBA. “That’s how impactful the Masterclass in PE was for me. I learned so much from combining academic theory with practical experience that now I want to come back for more.”