The story so far
I started my career as an investment banker in the tech space, specifically in mergers and acquisitions. It was a great sandbox to develop my financial and analysis expertise. But as an investment banker, you work with a lot of cool companies from the outside -- advising on how to help improve their businesses, without really living the consequences or realities of that advice. I was really interested in the other side of things - driving change from within, and having more ownership of my role at a company (and the risk that comes with it).
I was fortunate to land a role at Yahoo during its massive growth phase, to be apart of their BizOps division. It’s such a privilege to be part of a company at that stage. I find I’ve learned the most and performed the best during times of significant growth -- there’s so much at stake that there’s no other option but to give it everything you’ve got.
Between my time at Yahoo and my experience as an investment banker, I’d been on the fringe of venture capital for years. While doing my MBA, I learned more about it and started considering it seriously as a career path. A common theme I kept hearing was how important operating experience was for a VC to really understand the founders they backed. That really resonated with me. I spent the next few years building businesses from the ground up. Some worked, some didn’t - there were a lot of highs and lows. For example:
High: I was part of the team that started a company called Pixate, where we won Google as a client early on. They ended up buying the product, loving it and then acquiring it into their design organization.
Low: They made the product free, and sent me packing. No need for a GTM leader when the price is zero.
My move to venture capital came after my last corporate role at Pinterest, where I was hired to build their BizOps team. We started with 3000 and went up to 1200 team members before I left. As anyone who’s been a part of these massive early success stories knows, it’s both incredibly exciting and overwhelmingly exhausting. I loved it, but it definitely burnt me out.
A few years and another startup later, I came full circle and realized, having been in both roles - the banker and the builder, what I really wanted was a bit of both. I took a bit of a gamble and dedicated a year to trying to break into the VC world. When OMERS Ventures announced they were opening a US office, I shoved my foot in the door, and haven’t looked back.
What should founders know about you?
One of the things that’s served me well in Venture is my background in BizOps. The beauty and curse of BizOps is that while you have a hand in every department, you’re by nature a generalist instead of a specialist. In Ventures, it’s been hugely helpful to have a broader understanding of the different roles, departments and business strategies. Working with founders, there’s a lot of common ground there - founders have the same challenge - you can’t be a one trick pony.
More importantly is maybe my track record of success and failures. My journey hasn’t been an upwards curve to the right. I think most people who’ve had some level of experience with both will say they learned more from what didn’t work than what did. I did a lot of stuff that worked, and a lot that didn’t. And I find myself referencing those times more than my big highlights. They’re often more relatable to founders who will face the same challenges I did and can hopefully learn from my mistakes.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I’ve got a crazily active family, so everything outside of work revolves around our two kids - lots of sports, lots of lessons, lots of carpooling, and just generally trying to make it through weekends with two young children ;) If I can find some spare time, you’ll find me playing (or watching) sports.