Born in India and raised in several countries around the Middle East, Farah Khan thought she was going to be pre-med when she applied to Mount Holyoke at the advice of her brother. She had never laid eyes on the campus before, but she came in with “guns blazing,” as she put it. She signed up for biology and organic chemistry, as well as an introduction to economics class with James Hartley, thinking it would help her fulfill her liberal arts requirement.
“And I remember distinctly that in one of the early classes, he asked us to bring the Wall Street Journal to the class. He literally opened up a world of commerce and how the whole world is interconnected for me by helping us translate what I thought was another language,” Khan said.
Comparing how fascinated she was by this new subject matter with endless hours in the science labs, Khan had a wake-up call. “The world of economics was something that I could make sense of given how my life had unfolded, having lived in a lot of different countries and understanding supply and demand, right?” she said.
From then on, the guns were blazing in a new direction. She spent her third year of college studying engineering and Spanish at Dartmouth College and took on several internships in strategy, consulting and banking, including a pivotal one at Goldman Sachs that introduced her to the world of corporate finance and business. She would later work in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs.
Since then, Khan has worked at the global private equity firm APEX Partners, gotten her M.B.A. from Stanford University and served as a vice president at Sandler Capital Management, where she focused on investing in technology, media and telecom businesses. She is now a partner at L Catterton, where she focuses on consumer growth investing in Latin America.
“For me, some of the great things that Mount Holyoke taught me were critical thinking skills, being open-minded, being intellectually curious and always having a desire to learn,” she said. “Because the only thing constant in this world is change.”
Now, Khan is focused on creating a legacy and working to make sure other women know about the different careers available in finance. She is indebted to her own mentors, but she also says it’s important for women to develop awareness about what they’re good at and where they want to go.
“I do think the onus is also on us to be our own best advocates,” she said. “Unless you can be your own best advocate, particularly in a male-dominated environment like finance, I think it’s super hard to just tap into mentors. You need to be equally confident about knowing your strengths and advocating for what you want.”
Class year: 1998
Major: Economics, Mathematics
Joined board in: 2022