Dominique Mielle’s Damsel in Distressed: My Life in the Golden Age of Hedge Funds is part memoir, part finance textbook. Mielle takes us through her business studies at a Parisian university, the investment banking roles she held in New York and Los Angeles, and her work at Canyon Partners – one of the largest hedge funds in the world. Mielle tells the story with wit and humility, making it easy to see how she became one of the most powerful women in the industry.
Throughout the book, Mielle reflects on the decisions to get to where she did and breaks down the more technical aspects of her career. She looks back on her trajectory objectively, and readily admits to her mistakes. Explanations of her complex work (and, more broadly, the financial services industry) are never too convoluted. Anyone interested in learning more about the world of hedge funds can learn from her writing, which is infused with humour and examples that make it accessible to a broad audience.
The two most compelling reflections in the book are her views and experiences as a woman in the financial services industry, and the intense pressure she faced to succeed.
Even though Mielle says she didn’t face overt sexism while at Canyon, she discusses how indirect discrimination intensified the stress of making major investment decisions.
Those are are interested in working in high finance but intimidated by the idea should read this memoir. From her unconventional path to a hedge fund, to a breakdown of different investing strategies, to sharing her experience with sexism in the workplace, Mielle gives a great inside look into the (not so) secret world of high finance.