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September 1, 2015

The receptionist stands at a raised table in front of a bar-stool-height chair. Nearby, floor-to-ceiling windows offer an enviable view of neighboring skyscrapers; employees, most in jeans and casual wear, work at communal tables or long “computer bars” at the periphery.

“This is completely atypical,” says Jason Rosenberg, one of seven managing directors at Sterling Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm, referring to the culture of other firms. “The environment is more conducive to collaboration.”

Sterling has more than $5 billion under management and decades of experience in health care, business services and education; companies in those sectors comprise the bulk of its portfolio. Despite its über-modern trappings, the firm is steeped in traditions—including entrepreneur- ism and good old-fashioned teamwork.

Sterling also has deep roots in educational investing, dating back to the 1987 acquisition of Sylvan Learning, well known in the market for standardized test preparation. Sterling has since recognized and developed a passion for schools of all sorts and, more recently, is betting on technology and services to help modernize educational institutions.

“What we actually see is a wave of transformative businesses entering the phase where we would be a good participant,” says Chris Hoehn-Saric, a senior managing director. 

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