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Careers / Our People / Spotlight: Bessie Watts

Bessie Watts

Vice President, Office of the CEO

"I have an opportunity to drive impact at scale."


Durham, NC


International Affairs

Favorite Book

"The Personal Librarian" by Maria Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Favorite Hobby

Traveling, Competing for “World’s Best Dog Mom”, Baking

Vista's Culture in One Word


Favorite Part of Vista

The people

Enacting Change

Right out of college, I followed a traditional career path in finance. But I veered when I began learning more about the impact related work the firm I worked for was doing. I pivoted further when I started working for a nongovernmental organization, which focused on empowering women and girls worldwide to bring communities out of poverty. While joining Vista may not have seemed like the next logical step, I saw an opportunity to scale – enacting change and leveraging Vista’s size and scale to actually make positive impact in the world.

Leading by Example

My role leading Vista’s External Board of Directors Program is a bit unique, in that I work directly with our companies to help place external directors who would be valuable additions to their boards.

Alongside our companies, we determine where there are gaps and what they need from a board member. From there, I work with my team to find the right person — reviewing individuals’ backgrounds, expertise, areas of interest and more. We specifically look at a diverse pool of candidates who are often underrepresented in the board world.

I’m proud of the board diversity initiatives we’ve implemented and our progress. We have now launched two pipeline programs external to Vista as a way to highlight future underrepresented board talent. We’re a leader in board diversity and want to be an example of how to do this for organizations across industries.

A Vision Tied to DE&I

While interviewing for this role at Vista, I realized everyone here shared a desire to make measurable progress in DE&I, not just in the firm but also in the broader industry.

Boards should reflect the diversity of the organizations they represent. When people see themselves reflected in leadership roles, it opens up opportunities for greater upward mobility. It’s also critical for our companies to have multiple perspectives at the board level, to ensure they make the right decision. It’s humbling to know I play a part in helping companies take these steps toward progress.

It’s easy to talk about these issues but taking action and putting in the work to affect change is a different level of commitment and something Vista and leadership have never shied from. When you look at the individuals in senior positions at Vista, it’s evident we live and breathe these values every day.

Meet Our People