Chapter 6

Put on Your Boots

The Rise of “Ops”

You’d never guess Deb Conklin is a native New Yorker. Her whole vibe is Southern, from her deep accent to her backslapping nature to her impressive knowledge of college football.

Three days before we met in something close to the geographically dead center of Pennsylvania, her team, Clemson, got clobbered by Georgia Tech and she was, as they say in the South, still spittin’ mad. “I can’t even talk about it yet,” she said as we drove to lunch. Then she proceeded to talk about it extensively, and passionately, deconstructing her beloved Tigers’ loss and the implications for their now-faded national championship hopes. Later, when the talk turned back to her work at the private-equity firm TPG, she used ...

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