Kwesi Smith, Kristina Blaschek, Vindya Dayananda, and Rashmi Singh

From left Kwesi Smith, Kristina Blaschek, Vindya Dayananda, and Rashmi Singh, Rising Star Award Winners at the NAIC Conference

Four William Blair employees were presented Rising Star Awards at the National Association of Investment Companies (NAIC) annual conference on October 24 in recognition of their leadership, expertise, and dedication as young professionals in the financial industry.

Kristina Blaschek, Vindya Dayananda, Rashmi Singh, and Kwesi Smith were honored at the NAIC celebration held in Los Angeles with more than 300 industry leaders attending. NAIC, the largest network of diverse-owned private equity firms and hedge funds, is dedicated to strengthening business opportunities for its members through networking, advocacy, and research.

"Congratulations to Kristina, Vindya, Rashmi, and Kwesi who exemplify William Blair values of setting the highest bar for delivering exceptional service and outcomes to our clients," said John Ettelson, president and CEO of William Blair. "At William Blair, we believe diversity of skills, capabilities, perspectives, and experiences drive innovation and successful client results."

"We are also delighted to have NAIC as a partner, which has led to increased engagement with high-performing diverse managers," Ettelson added. "This provides our firm with unique access to the talent and deals in this industry sector. In turn that helps us create value for our clients, partners, and associates."

Rising Star Award Winners

As director of business and technology for William Blair's Investment Management group, Kristina Blaschek identifies opportunities for the firm to develop, innovate, and embrace technology to make better investment decisions for clients. She also serves as co-head of the firm's Women's Alliance, a business resource group to help women network with one another and promote a more diverse culture in the financial services industry.

Kwesi Smith, also a valued member of the investment management team and a CFA chartholder, is a global equity research analyst covering large-cap consumer companies. Outside William Blair, Smith works with several nonprofits that support youth development, including the Greenwood Project, which introduces minority youth from underserved communities to careers in finance. 

Vindya Dayananda, a member of the investment banking healthcare team, is focused on expanding William Blair's West Coast business including initiatives with diverse-owned private equity firms. Dayananda also has been involved in the firm's recruiting efforts and has served on the Lyric Opera of Chicago Young Professionals Board.

Rashmi Singh, a vice president in William Blair's Investment Banking group, focuses on mergers and acquisitions and is a respected mentor among her team members for her expertise in public company M&A activity. She was recently named to the firm's Peer Council, created to enhance inclusion, diversity, and work-life balance for financial services professionals.