Pod Leaders of the Week: Kelsey Tahan & Katherine Prescott

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Kelsey Tahan

Managing Director, 
First Republic Bank

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Katherine Prescott

Senior Vice President, 
Highbridge Capital Management

1. What about your career has surprised you the most?

Kelsey: That taking a step backwards actually did pay off…my first job out of college was in Sales and Trading at Morgan Stanley. My goal then was to make as much money as possible, to pay off my loans as quickly as possible, in order to have the freedom to ask myself what I wanted to do…and be able to act on that. After 5 years, I paid off my loans and ended up switching gears in what a lot of people considered an unconventional way…I went from an investment bank to a commercial bank, took a 60% pay cut and a lower title. What trumped those factors was my belief that being in a growing market, with smart people, while thinking outside the box would lead to opportunities I didn’t yet know existed. That ended up playing out as I had hoped. I have found an opportunity that fits my entrepreneurial spirit and allows me the financial freedom that’s important to me.

Katherine: The value of being optimistic.  I think that if you believe a good outcome will happen, it’s more likely to happen -- it might not, but approaching the situation as if it will makes it more likely that you’ll persevere through the inevitable challenges.  Also, it’s really nice working around optimistic people -- your colleagues will appreciate your positive outlook, probably even more than you think.

2. What about the future excites you?

Kelsey: That I have no idea where I will be…but I know it’s going to be good. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such impressive, authentic and driven people day in and day out (Parity included). I truly believe we will build something together that is great for us individually and the markets/people we care about.

Katherine: I recently made a big zig-zag in my career after ten years in finance.  For the first time in my life, I don’t know exactly what I will be doing and where I’ll be professionally in one year.  Having a blank sheet of paper is exciting and liberating, and it has encouraged me do things I never thought I would (or even could) do.  It’s also scary!

3. What about the future scares you?

Kelsey: Staying healthy, maintaining a balance between family/work/ friends/skiing/travelling and forgetting to slow down.

Katherine: See #2

4. Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why?

Kelsey: The Phantom Tollbooth…I’ve been reading this book since I was a kid. Each time I read it, I learn something new about myself, while also reconnecting with my childhood self…an interesting juxtaposition. I have a tendency to gogogo and overanalyze…this book is a constant reminder to me to slow down, to channel my inner kid and to welcome the unknown even when I don’t know where it’s going to lead.

Katherine: I love reading biographies about strong leaders whom I admire.  Two favorites are The Last Lion, which covers Winston Churchill, and Ron Chernow’s Hamilton.  Their stories, among those of many others, show the enormous impact that a single person can have.  For me, these stories are inspiring and empowering.

5. What lesson do you wish you had learned earlier in your career?

Kelsey: Everything is temporary…I have a tendency to over-think, over-plan, over-analyze (shout out to all my type-A sisters out there). Once I realized that I’m never going to know the outcome when I’m making a decision, I felt free to try things and learn and iterate….and I think I’ve grown immensely by allowing myself to fumble a bit.

Katherine: There are real benefits to taking calculated risks at certain points in your career.  I took little risk during the first ten years of mine. Along these lines, invest in yourself, and concentrate your risk in yourself.

6. What is your favorite P3 moment?

Kelsey: When Nina Stepanov introduced herself during the first P3 talk as, “Hi. I’m Nina. And I’m weird.” Perfect example of the authenticity that makes this fun and fulfilling.

Katherine: The sum total of all the little P3 moments that have made me feel like I’m part of a community that is 100% behind me and cheering me on.  Thank you P3!

7. If you woke up and had 1,000 emails in your inbox and could only answer 100, how would you choose which ones to answer?

Kelsey: Prioritize by sender…I call them my foot soldiers. The people who go above and beyond to support you, the people you care about, the ones that stick their neck out for you-and expect nothing in return. There’s a group of us who truly want to see each other succeed and they are the most important to me.

Katherine: I read once that your email inbox is like a to do list written by people other than yourself.  I try to approach each day with a clear list of priorities that I set for myself and allocate time according to that.

8. If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person in your industry, who would you want to invite?

Kelsey: Ellie Wheeler…she’s done an incredible job of building her personal brand and I’m curious as to how. @Ellie - If you’re reading this…hit me up @ kelsey.tahan@gmail.com.

Katherine: If I could meet one person for dinner it would be Hillary Clinton without a doubt (even though she’s not in my industry).  I had my first job interning for her Senate office, started Harvard Students for Hillary Clinton in 2007 and helped out on both of her presidential campaigns.  Meeting her one-on-one would be a dream come true. There are so many questions I would love to ask her.

Pod Leader of the Week: Sejal Shah Gulati

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Sejal Shah Gulati

Sejal is the General Manager of the Global Marketing Hub at American Express in New York City. Prior to that she was the CMO of Ezetap, a B2B payments company based in Bangalore, India. She is also the Co-Founder of Sonder Connect. In her previous role, Sejal was the President and Managing Director of TAS Analytic Services Private Limited, a Time Inc. company. Sejal founded the organization in 2006 and it currently employs over 900 professionals who support Time Inc.’s content division with its business analytics, marketing research, technology and operations. Prior to her current role, Sejal was the VP of Business Development for Time Inc. in New York, where she wrote the business plan for Time Inc India. Sejal began her career at Time Inc. as the Business Development Director for Money magazine. After her role at Money, she was the Marketing Director for the Real Simple and InStyle magazines. Before joining Time Inc., Sejal was a Senior Manager for Business Development for American Express in New York City. Sejal has previously served on the Board of Trustees of Princeton University and is currently the President of the Global Alumni Board of Harvard Business School. . Sejal is an avid reader, an accomplished runner and an aspiring golfer and viola player. Sejal recently successfully completed the New York City Marathon. She currently lives in New York City, with her husband and two young daughters. Sejal has a B.A. from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She is a Fellow of Famous V of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship as well as a moderator for and member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network

1. What about your career has surprised you the most?

How fun it has been. I think when I was younger I thought  “work” and “life” were two separate things and now I realize, happily, that it all blurs together and that it can be really fun in the aggregate.

2. What about the future excites you?

Everything, I am so excited to see where technology takes business and life as well as the impact of the next generation of folks coming into the workforce.

3. What about the future scares you?

The de-globalization of the world…I am hoping that this is not a trend. I think the beauty of the time we live in is how global we can be if we choose to be so.

4. Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why?

A Wrinkle in Time. I read that when I was in fifth grade and it opened up a whole new world for me.

5. What lesson do you wish you had learned earlier in your career?

FAIL OFTEN.  I think I was so afraid of failing I did not take enough risks. Now I would tell young women --- SEEK FAILURE. If you seek it then you are pushing yourself…

6. What is your favorite P3 moment?

I absolutely love coming to the events – the energy of all of these amazing women is palpable and energizing.

7. If you woke up and had 1,000 emails in your inbox and could only answer 100, how would you choose which ones to answer?

I would sort the emails and answer the 100 from customers/clients first.

8. If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person in your industry, who would you want to invite?

JUST ONE? I think there is a group of amazing young women leaders – I would love to meet the CEO and Founder of Dry Bar and or Soul Cycle and then I have always been fascinated by Melody Hobson. I love strong women and I think we all need to stick together.


Pod Leader of the Week: Megan Hannum

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Megan Hannum

As a partner at FundedBuy, Megan is responsible for business development & expansion. She has worked closely with hundreds of early-stage startups, accelerators and funds to get them set up efficiently and optimize their operating expenses so founders can focus on product and growth.

Megan is a venture consultant to Comcast Ventures. In her role, she works across the investment team to source and evaluate investment opportunities as well as a liaison to NBCU Media Labs on innovation strategy & global expansion.

Previously she served as a venture partner to LaunchTime LLC with FundedBuy founder Benjamin Sun, focused on incubating and investing in digital media and e-commerce companies. Prior to diving into the startup ecosystem, Megan worked in freelance production at Campfire NYC (acquired by Sapient) and Sony Pictures. She got her start in the Global Branded Entertainment & Music Touring departments at International Creative Management (ICM) in Los, Angeles, CA while studying Music Business at the Musician’s Institute.

1. What about your career has surprised you the most?

Everything. I have always taken the road less traveled — from leaving college after my sophomore year — to starting businesses across various industries in which I had no real hard background in. It’s been one big adventure — although my "through line" or narrative --  has always been a steward for people, money and ideas. Whether thats in revenue generating business’ or investing -- I love a good platform. I’m very non-linear and have been extremely fortunate to attract the right partners and colleagues along my journey who have recognized my special sauce and have instilled confidence, knowledge and wisdom far beyond the bottom line. I hope I am always surprised, adapting and pursuing my curiosities.

2. What about the future excites you?

Things are changing and evolving so quickly.  I am excited to be on the ground floor and witness a lot of the technological advances we are making come to life. I am particularly excited to see some of the first real use cases/ implications in the blockchain/crypto currency world as that is where I am currently spending a lot of time. I recently took on a new role and I know I have a lot of growing potential in learning to communicate in a new leadership environment, challenge myself and make things happen.

3. What about the future scares you?

There is always a fear of the un-known but I try to stay as present as possible. When you give up trying to solve or think about things so outside your reach -- you have much more space to be thoughtful, responsive, creative and intentional in the now. There is always the age old battle of technology vs nature — I def. think as we become a more digitally connected society ( which I have a hand in) that we remember the importance of staying connected with ourselves and others.

4. Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why?

The Game of Life & How To Play It  — this was given to me by my business partner 6 years ago.  I have since given or recommended hundreds of copies of this book to family, friends, colleagues and strangers. It was written in 1939 by Florence Scovel Shinn who was one of the first female metaphysics to talk about the power of positive thinking. This book has very short but impactful chapters: The Law of Prosperity, The Power of the Word, The Law of Non-Resistance, Intuition, Love etc. In its simplicity, all the wisdom captured in each chapter still applies to todays world. I keep a copy next to my bed and often I flip to a chapter that speaks to me in that particular moment in time, or sometimes I just flip through and see what page I land on. I have read this hundreds of times and every single time I read it, I draw upon a new meaning, guidance and pause across all sectors of my life.

5. What lesson do you wish you had learned earlier in your career?

Don’t give it all away for free.  I’ve always been generous with my resources which I think is a beautiful gift and way of being — to an extent.  There came a time in which I really had to take stock over what I had to offer and deeply value that, so others would to. I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to find confidence and channel that into making money for myself and others.

6. What is your favorite P3 moment?

— Well, we are just getting started in LA! We had our first pod meeting last month over breakfast and decided as a group to make this a standing monthly event. Back in December I co-hosted a breakfast with the P3 founders while they were in LA to engage with colleagues that were not already privy to the community — and pretty much every single one of them has joined. I know there is so much I am going to learn from each individual member and the community as a whole. We’ve had nothing but positive feedback. The best is yet to come!

7. If you woke up and had 1,000 emails in your inbox and could only answer 100, how would you choose which ones to answer?

I am not an inbox zero person — so, 1,000 seems like a dream. Hmm — I would prioritize any pressing business follow up to founders/investors/colleagues that may need a timely response. Then, I would probably go through and star/select the names of the sender that I am most familiar with that are in my immediate communities first.  

8. If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person in your industry, who would you want to invite?

You mean besides Oprah? Hmm  — such a toss up. Back to the road less traveled...  I will pick two. One is Susan Lyne — although we have met a couple times briefly and I’ve worked with her amazing partner Nisha/BBG companies — I have not had quality time with her. I think she has such a remarkable background.  I really admire her ability to navigate industries , empower others around her, and her collaborative leadership style. I’d love to hear her untold stories. The second would be Mary Meeker — I appreciate anyone who can go super deep in their craft ( and share their findings with the world) I am fascinated by her brain —  she seems like the type of person that I would walk away with more meaningful/reframed questions from than answers and be fully satisfied.

Parity welcomes Deb Bronston-Culp as COO / CFO!


I am thrilled to join P3 as its COO/CFO.  About 15 months ago, a friend connected me to Beth to discuss becoming a Pod Leader.  Natalia and I spoke about it a couple of times.  The Parity mission truly resonated with me and I was excited about "leading" a group of professional women. What I hadn't bargained for was the degree to which the women in Pod Liberty and now Pod Green are inspiring, insightful, accomplished, bright and giving.  Our pod experience has been incredibly rewarding. 

I had been investing in startup companies for the last seven years and sought to become part of the energetic experience of a young company.  So when Caryn, Beth and I started talking about how much Parity was growing and how it would need to fill out parts of the team, I jumped at the chance.  The opportunity to couple a mission I believe in with a terrific team of committed colleagues was impossible to pass up. The future is bright! I wish I could fast forward to see how it all turns out but I can't.



Pod Leaders of the Week: Molly Siems & Vanessa Pestritto

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Vanessa Pestritto

Vanessa Alexandra Pestritto is Co-Founder and Partner at Lattice Ventures. She invests in network effects companies in low tech industries or new markets. Pestritto is an active advisor to entrepreneurs through her roles as EIR at Friends of eBay, Mentor for the NYU Berkley Venture Competition, BrainTrust Advisor for Entrepreneurs@Athena, was named a Top Latino Tech Leader by the New America Alliance, and Co-Founder of the Gladiator Club, which provides access and resources to high potential founders. Previously, she served as Executive Director at the New York Angels, an industry agnostic, network-driven angel investment group.


Molly Siems

Molly Siems is currently Director, Business Development and Strategic Partnerships at Justworks, a fast growing HR tech startup. She was previously Head of Business Development at NewsCred, another venture-backed marketing tech startup after leading NewsCred's legal team for 3 years. Molly began her career as a corporate lawyer at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Mergers and Acquisitions. She is a Columbia Law School and UPenn alum. At Columbia, she was selected to join InSITE, a tech startup incubator run by Columbia and NYU graduate students.

1. What about your career has surprised you the most?

Molly: How listening to my gut (even when it seemed illogical) has gotten me on the right track professionally

Vanessa: How simply talking to people and engaging with them in their world can open more doors and opportunities than any other effort. 

2. What about the future excites you?

Molly: Taking on scary roles that are out of my comfort zone (if you aren't a little scared, you aren't challenging yourself!)

Vanessa: Building the future I believe in with the people I respect. Learning from those that I find interesting and curious. Helping those level up to their next great moment.

3. What about the future scares you?

Molly: Balancing career and children, and overcoming the "motherhood penalty"

Vanessa: This is a funny question because I tell people to do things that scare them. It gets you closer to who you are and who you want to be in the same moment. It's how one can find greatness. 

4. Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why?

Molly: I know it's cliche at this point, but Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg saved me. When I first joined a tech startup, I wasn't being given a seat at the table and I was taking it personally - my confidence was at an all-time low. I hadn't encountered workplace sexism before and didn't recognize it when it was right in front of me. This book made me realize that I wasn't alone, and gave me practical strategies to deal with the situation.

Vanessa: Probably The Fountainhead. I remember reading several scenes where I knew the thoughts and feelings of the characters. It gave me comfort and a sense of calm that I was not alone in having these thoughts, sentiments, and struggles. It is ok to be myself.

5. What tool do you use everyday that is invaluable?

Molly: Meditation - every morning for 22 minutes - and writing in my journal to remind me of my priorities.

Vanessa: My breast pump and Whatsapp.

6. What does the word 'power' mean to you?

Molly: The ability to make decisions that affect others beyond yourself.

Vanessa: Strength and control.

7. If you woke up and had 1,000 emails in your inbox and could only answer 100, how would you choose which ones to answer?

Molly: I would reply to my family, my CEO, a board member, my direct boss, my team, my best friends, in that order. If I had any emails leftover, I'd respond to ones that involved mission-critical projects so they wouldn't fall off the rails.

Vanessa: I would address emails that were critical and those that held the greatest opportunities. If they exceeded 100 then I would attempt a 60/40 split on opportunities and critical.

8. If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person in your industry, who would you want to invite?

Molly: Susan Wojcicki - my first love will always be Sheryl :), but I'm curious about her journey

Vanessa: Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures.

Local Leader Highlight: Maaria Bawja (Sound Ventures) & Chang Xu (Upfront Ventures)

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We are announce that Maaria Bajwa and Chang Xu will be our local leaders for Los Angeles in 2018! We wanted to take an opportunity for you to get to know them below!

Maaria and Chang tell us about your career journey.

Maaria: I started off my career as a generalist at a $4B investment advisor based in LA. I covered mostly alternative strategies including hedge funds, private equity, real estate, private debt, venture capital. Technology was always a passion area of mine and over time I was leading more and more of our venture investments. It was a natural next step for me to make the transition to direct venture investing, but I took my time to find the right team to join. I joined Sound Ventures in February of last year and I have loved every minute of it. 

Chang: After studying applied math and computer science in college, I started my career as a consultant with BCG. I really found my calling when I did two startups in ed-tech: I co-founded an adaptive learning software company in China but had to move back to the US for personal reasons. Then I joined as the first product manager at the Minerva Project, a tech-enabled university that delivers you a quality of education better than Harvard at a third of the cost. Since 2016, I've joined the dark side; I'm currently an early stage VC in LA at Upfront Ventures and I focus on investing in future of work, AI/ML, and logistics.

What about your career has surprised you the most?

Maaria: The most surprising thing about being in venture is how humbling it is. There’s always an opportunity to learn from the entrepreneurs and experts you meet everyday. It’s a constant reminder that you’re never the smartest person in the room. 

Chang: My career has been a lot more organic than pre-meditated, which has surprised me because I tend to plan everything. What I enjoy and learn the most from have often been different from what I expected.

What about the future excites you?

Maaria: I love companies that are thinking about new and innovative business models. These new business models can open up entire new markets and revitalize old industries. 

Chang: Everything: crypto and decentralization and how that's going to play out, creating new pathways for employment that don't involve getting into debt for very expensive college degrees, China's increasing prominence and role in the world as in tech... As I am in early-stage venture, I get to think about cutting-edge technologies and dream about what the future will bring.

What about the future scares you?

Maaria: I’m really worried about the future of our workforce as more and more jobs are automated. No one has the right solution for this today. If we don’t start thinking about solutions now, we could see a massive workforce come to market without any employment opportunities. 

Chang: Black Mirror-esque scenarios; I'm usually an optimistic person, which is probably why I don't enjoy the show. I'm worried about the increasing polarization of wealth in the US and the hollowing out of the middle class, as I think that has far implications for the foundations of the republic and our society.

Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why?


Maaria: How to win friends and Influence people. The book does a great job of outlining better approaches to problems, and completely reshaped how I interact with others in both my personal and professional capacity.  

ChangThinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, as this book has shaped my thinking in so many ways. For example, one of the ideas that stuck with me is that it is human tendency to tell stories, to retrospectively make sense of things. In the venture world, we read (and we write) all these stories about successful startups (and failed ones) in nice narratives that seem so clear in hindsight, but unfortunately, it's full of human bias and the storyteller tend to forget the evidence to the contrary. I try to not be drawn to the allure of a nice narrative.

What tool do you use everyday that is invaluable?

Maaria: Messenger + Slack, mostly for internal communication. 

Chang: Airtable. It's a more mobile-friendly version of spreadsheets and has a better UI. I use it to track people I meet professionally and help me remember who I should reach out to. I jot down quick notes after my meetings and bring it up again when, for example, we are putting on an event and I need to suggest people to invite. It's my PRM - Personal Relationship Manager.

If you woke up and had 1,000 emails in your inbox and could only answer 100, how would you choose which ones to answer?

MaariaWould prioritize emails from our founders and their teams. I’m always thinking of ways to be available and helpful to the companies we invest in. 

Chang:  First, I read every email and I prioritize them. I use my inbox as a to-do list, so I archive emails that are low priority and which I probably won't answer. If I read an email that's quick to reply to, I will reply right there. Then, I answer the emails that are related to whatever is highest priority for me at the moment. I try to balance what's important with what's urgent and make sure that I tackle some of the "important but not urgent" stuff every day.

If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person in your industry, who would you want to invite?


MaariaAt this moment in time, I would have to say Naval Ravikant, the founder and CEO of AngelList. He’s a frequent guest on tech podcasts and more recently he has been a huge thought leader in the crypto space. It’s clear he’s a very thoughtful investor and I have a lot of respect for him. 



Chang:  She's not quite in my industry, but I would love to have dinner with Shonda Rhimes. She's an African American female writer who has created several of the largest franchises in network television (Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder), which feature female heroines, diverse casts, and real-world biases that women and people of color face.

She's an introvert and, in her own words, she's "F.O.D" - First. Only. Different - which is how I feel a lot of the time. I think what she has accomplished in her industry is incredible.

Thank you for joining us Chang & Maaria! 

Pod Leader of the Week: Amy Wu

Amy Wu   (center) is the Chief Financial Officer of Discovery Asia-Pacific, responsible for finance, strategy, business development, commercial operations, and pan-regional production for the region with coverage over 35 countries.  She was previously a Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations at NewsCred. Amy has 10+ years of experience in Finance, Operations, Corporate Development, Strategy, and VC, working with companies ranging from pre-funded startups to growth stage pre-IPO companies.   Amy recieved her BA from Harvard in Biochemical sciences and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - AIDS Initiative.

Amy Wu  (center) is the Chief Financial Officer of Discovery Asia-Pacific, responsible for finance, strategy, business development, commercial operations, and pan-regional production for the region with coverage over 35 countries.

She was previously a Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations at NewsCred. Amy has 10+ years of experience in Finance, Operations, Corporate Development, Strategy, and VC, working with companies ranging from pre-funded startups to growth stage pre-IPO companies. 

Amy recieved her BA from Harvard in Biochemical sciences and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - AIDS Initiative.

What about your career has surprised you the most? 
It’s been most surprising how circuitous and unexpected the journey has been, and at this point I no longer try to make 5-10 year plans. I just take it as it comes! Across my career journey to date, the only one constant factor has been the people. My friends, mentors, and partner have graciously led me to each step of my career journey, and I have no doubt they will continue to. 
What about the future excites you?
Not knowing what I will be doing next.
What about the future scares you? 
Striking the right balance between work and family.
Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why? 
Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Best 4 hours I ever spent learning about executive management dysfunction and recovery. Every manager knows that their success lives and dies by the execution of their teams. Patrick Lencioni breaks it down succinctly.
What tool do you use everyday that is invaluable? 
2 tools: (1) I’m old-school and use a notebook to track all my follow-ups, which I ruthlessly make sure are crossed-off. If I’m not constantly disciplined in initiating, coordinating, and following-up with my different workstreams, the interdependencies across and outside my teams mean that I become weeks or even months behind. For me, that’s probably 30% of speedy execution. The other 70% is hiring the right people. (2) Meditation. I did a course with the Art of Living and now do breathing exercises and meditate 3x a week. It’s changed my life to maintaining a positive mindset and keep at bay my insecurities when work/life starts to feel overwhelming.
What does the word 'power' mean to you? 
The ability to influence how people think and act, in a positive or negative way.
If you woke up and had 1,000 emails in your inbox and could only answer 100, how would you choose which ones to answer? 
I’d first answer emails from my family and partner, my boss, and my direct reports, probably in that order.
If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person in your industry, who would you want to invite? 
Angela Ahrendts, current head of retail for Apple and previous CEO of Burberry. From everything I’ve read about her, she’s a boss, who came from humble roots to turnaround the Burberry business and now is one of the highest paid female executive in the world. 

Pod Leader of the Week: Jennifer Kaminsky

Jen K

Jennifer Kaminsky is an analytical and performance-driven executive with 15+ years of success in financial services and asset management industries. She brings a solid background in Finance and Accounting as well as expert knowledge and leadership experience that spans Asset Management, Operations & Support Services. 

Currently Ms. Kaminsky is consulting for Apollo Group Management in their Credit division.  Ms. Kaminsky worked at The Blackstone Group on the Hedge Fund Solutions Team from Aug 2005 through February 2017 where she was a Senior Vice President and the Head of the Middle Office and Cash Management Group. Ms. Kaminsky received her degree from the State University of New York at Albany, where she graduated cum laude. 


What about your career has surprised you the most?
Earlier in my career I had a clear vision of my path and growth and that has changed.  I used to see it as a straight line and I now realize and embrace that there are ups and downs as you move up and those ups and downs is where you will grow and learn the most. 

What about the future excites you?
Being in a position to have a greater say about my future and where I want my career to go


What about the future scares you?
The uncertainty and not knowing the exact path

Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why?
The Happiest Baby on the Block.

I am a mother of 3 and when I had my first child I read a lot of books on babies and parenting.  Raising kids is a lot like working.  Your influence in raising healthy, happy babies is just like your relationships and work you do at your job.  The more you understand and approach your work in a positive manner the more you will get out of it.

What tool do you use everyday that is invaluable?
My notebook where I write down discussions and notes. I find this information to be invaluable in tracking decisions and staying on track with work

What does the word 'power' mean to you?
I think of power as one's own ability to stay true to who they are.  At times in the workplace you may compromise your views to align with someone more senior.  The more that you stay true to yourself and your values the more power you maintain without compromising who you are.  Being able to be effective in doing that in a way that you are looked at as an influencer and not as a negative person is a balance and a skill.

If you woke up and had 1,000 emails in your inbox and could only answer 100, how would you choose which ones to answer?
I would sort the emails by person and start with the people with the biggest influence and that I directly report to. 

If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person in your industry, who would you want to invite?
Sallie Krawcheck the CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest

Pod Leader of the Week: Deborah Bronston-Culp


Deborah is a Managing Partner at Samothrace Partners as well as an MD and Co-head of Enterprise Technology at Golden Seeds. She invests in early-stage companies, serves on boards and mentors entrepreneurs.

Deborah has over 25 years experience on Wall Street and spent 15 years at Prudential Securities where she managed and trained Equity Research analysts. She was a top ranked consumer analyst for each of the 7 years she followed stocks.

Deborah is a graduate and Trustee of UC, San Diego.


Describe your career journey

My father took me to the gallery of the NYSE when I was about 14 after I had bought a couple of (literally two) shares of IBM stock with some of my babysitting earnings.  I loved the frenzied environment, the unpredictability, the math and how it looked (at least on this particular day) like everyone was having fun.  The seed was planted that I would have a career in the stock market. 

Fast forward fewer than 10 years and I started working in EF Hutton's equity research department.  Ultimately, I became an equity analyst covering textile and apparel manufacturers and some specialty retailers.  It was a very rewarding and challenging career.  One of the most important skills I learned was how to listen to what and how people were telling you their stories--whether it was clients, CEOs, middle managers, bankers, customers of the companies I covered or their suppliers.  I loved analyzing business models and pouring through financial statements. 

After rising to the top of my field and staying there, I decided I wanted a new challenge and thought I could help other analysts be successful.  I developed a training program.  Over time, I took on more management roles and I have mentored more than 60 stock analysts. My last traditional Wall Street employer was Morgan Stanley where I co-ran US Equity Research with some amazing colleagues.  

I left there in 2003 and traveled the world with my husband on and off for several years.  But, I got antsy and started looking for more professional stimulation.   I looked all over for my next gig and ultimately found that I could apply all the skills I had already honed--strategizing over business plans, analyzing financials, mentoring new and seasoned executives, etc.--in the world of angel investing.  It was a perfect match.  

Over the past several years, and with a couple of partners at Samothrace Partners, we focused on investing in female entrepreneurs in exciting new B2B and B2C technologies.  These entrepreneurs are truly inspiring.

1. What about your career has surprised you the most?
If you had asked me that midway through my career I’d have said how creative investing can be.  Economics can be pretty dry to learn but applying it in a variety of disciplines is very artistic.  Now, I am surprised by the number of people I have interacted with over the years and how many have circled back through my orbit or I in theirs.  It is almost always a positive experience to reconnect with someone I haven’t spoken with in awhile.  

2. What about the future excites you? 
All the new technologies that are being commercialized.  Obviously, blockchain and AI technologies are off-the-hook exciting.  They will truly transform so many ways we interact in commerce, banking, communications, medical records and diagnostics, transferring and tracking assets of any kind, including real estate, how we drive.  The applications for these protocols and platforms will touch many, many aspects of our lives.

3. What about the future scares you? 
Political partisanship and closed-mindedness.  Nuff said.

5. What is the best invention ever? 
There was a time I thought it was Bazooka bubble gum.  Then I thought nothing could top TV remote controls.  After losing my father to melanoma, Interleukin 2 seemed the answer.  As my horizons expand and technology pushes the boundaries of what is possible, this is a very difficult question to answer.  My mother is 92 and no longer drives but is very active.  LYFT and a smartphone are hugely liberating inventions for her and therefore my sisters and me.  Many disease therapies must go on the list, but is that better than the Internet, which is a never-ending source of learning?  I know that in 20 years, perhaps fewer, these replies will sound as juvenile and narrow as bubble gum does today.

6. What is your estimate on when we will have gender parity in the US? 
It certainly won’t happen before we stop calling ourselves “girls."  Nothing is more nails-on-a-chalkboard to my ears than when I hear grown females (or males for that matter) refer to other women, themselves, their friends or colleagues as "girls."  If we don't respect ourselves enough, how can we ask others to?

Kelly Hoey: Q&A


On November 13, Kelly Hoey, a networking expert and writer, came to teach P3 about how to build a dream network. Kelly redefined how we think about networking by explaining that networking is every human interaction. She gave concrete tips on how to leverage digital spaces, how to build long-lasting connections, and explained the different types of networks we engage in. 

Because Kelly believes networking is about giving back, she has taken the time to respond to follow-up P3 questions via email.

Q: You had advised to go to each networking event with intent and to spend a lot of time planning ahead of time. Are you able to provide an example, such as the type of steps I should have taken ahead of Parity Partners event?

A: If you're part of the Parity Partners network, you've already taken a big networking step (in the way I think about networking). You've given serious thought to where you're looking to take your career. You've indicated you're invested in taking the steps necessary to advance your career by engaging in the P3 program. Yes, a lot of the networking groundwork has been laid. Now, the types of steps I'd suggest taking at P3 events:

  • Arrive early to take advantage of the informal conversations which occur before the speaker

  • Give some thought to who you'd like to meet. Is it someone who has a similar background or career experience? Ask the organizers to make introductions - beyond "is there anyone I should meet" as clearly, Parity is a network full of connections you should meet. Be specific.

  • Read up on the speaker. Not only will that give you more insights into the purpose of the event, it will provide fuel for informal conversations early in the evening.

  • Reach out to someone you met at a prior P3 event and see if they're attending the upcoming event.

  • Think up your post event follow-up! If you're going to connect with new connections on LinkedIn, is your profile up-to-date? Check your email signature line and online bio, as the people you've just met will be looking at those too.

Q: My network is definitely narrow and deep in the same industry and am struggling to go wide as you suggested. Throwing myself at that event the other night, surrounded by mainly finance and venture capitalists, when I am in marketing was one way---any other suggestions to push to widen that network?

A: I've been on this journey (and share it in detail starting at page 70 in my book) and know exactly the place you're standing in now. My suggestion: get curious! What other industries could use your marketing skills? Think about the ways your current industry is leading in marketing - and what the trends say for other industries. Maybe there is a way to pitch yourself in to something new. Similarly, scan Meetup or Eventbrite to discover new groups where the conversations center on the problems your skillset solves. Finally, take a look at where have professionals who have your skill set moved into new and different industries? Take a look at their bios for ideas for groups.

Q: I was struck by your comments about reaching out only when you need something. Do I need to be more proactive on that? And is it still ok to ask for help?

A: I'm going to pull directly from Chapter 7 of Build Your Dream Network (Networking #Fail). What you want to avoid is being the person who is always in need, only showing up because they need something and never being there to lend a hand to someone else. As I say in my book:

Death Eaters

If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, too bad. You’re not excused from this networking point.

In the Potter books, Death Eaters are evil witches and wizards. In networking parlance, they are the people who constantly ask for help or new connections or random introductions but who never, ever reciprocate in kind. No thanks or consideration, just endless asks. Masters of only thinking only about what they need, Death Eaters are the people who zap your energy and kill the strength of your connections.

Avoid them. And, more important, follow the networking guidance in this book to avoid becoming one.

Q: Any thoughts on best way to approach getting a mentor?

A: I'm going to pull from a blog post I wrote for Tunstone: it’s important to remember that mentoring doesn’t have to be a 1:1 arrangement or a lifelong commitment — and it surely doesn’t have to only occur over coffee. Instead, think about the guidance you're seeking - and not only the people but the different ways you can get that information. I suspect many of the role models you'd like guidance from blog, tweet, have newsletters or release videos. For me, Brene Brown would be an incredible mentor. What's the likelihood of 1:1 time with her? Highly unlikely. However, if I consider watching her TED talks, reading her books etc. as providing the answers I'm seeking, it is a pretty good mentoring. If you look at mentoring in a fresher, information gathering way, you'll see you have many more opportunities to be mentored -such as in asking me this question. And I truly believe that those who are proactively seeking ways to advance their careers, attract the guidance and mentorship they are seeking - which is what you're doing by joining the Parity Partners community.


Most importantly, remember that being a good networker means being a decent human being: don't forget to follow up and say thank you to those who help you out, and to establish regular touch points to show people you care. Thank you so much Kelly for joining us at P3!


Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for future updates.

The P3 Program is an education initiative by Parity Partners, an executive search company committed to diverse work cultures & to supporting minorities succeed in their careers.

The Parity Professional Program is made possible by our generous sponsors:

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Susanne Greenfield, Pod Leader of the Week


Susanne Greenfield is a Vice President of Corporate Development at Priceline Group. In this role she handles M&A, global strategy, and venture investing for Priceline Group's brands. Priceline Group is a 90BN+ market cap company that provides online travel and related services to customers and partners in over 220 countries and territories through six primary brands - Booking.com, Priceline.com , KAYAK, Agoda.com, Rentalcars.com, and OpenTable. 

 Prior to her current role at Priceline Group, Susanne was Director of Corporate Development at Griffon Corp., a private equity associate at Corsair Capital, and an investment banking analyst at Merrill Lynch. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Stern School of Undergraduate Business.

What about your career has surprised you the most?
I think the most surprising aspect of my career has been the fact that my path has not always seemed clear in the moment.  When I look back, however, it seems quite logical and deliberate that I have ended up where I am today.

What about the future excites you?
Assuming we are talking about my personal future, I am excited about becoming a more well-rounded leader.  I have recently taken on a new role at my company with new responsibilities.  This is allowing me to expand my skill set and forcing me to enhance my leadership abilities.

What about the future scares you?
Again, assuming we're talking about my personal future, I think it’s not living up to my potential. I try very hard to hold myself to a high standard and I have high aspirations to become a leader not just at my company but in my field and I have the customary worries of not living up to my goals.

Daring Greatly

Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why?

I am by nature an introvert, which at times hinders my efforts to connect with other people.  Although a bit repetitive at times, a lot of the concepts that Brene Brown explores in Daring Greatly regarding forming connections and building relationships was eye opening.  She illustrates that by opening up to others and showing vulnerability you become more relatable to people.  Especially as a woman in a leadership position, I have found that the more stoic and closed off one appears, the harder it is to connect with and motivate people.  Women in business often feel the need try to show perfection, and I have found that this mentality often gets in the way of relationships in the end, as it is authenticity that allows you to truly connect with other people.

What tool do you use every day that is invaluable?
I cannot get through the day without my To Do Lists.  Although I constantly have to re-prioritize the items on these lists throughout the day, I find it very helpful to have all of my tasks laid out before me in one place.

What does the word 'power' mean to you? 
Having the ability to inspire and motivate others and/or effect meaningful change.

If you woke up and had 1,000 emails in your inbox and could only answer 100, how would you choose which ones to answer?
I always try to answer time sensitive e-mails first and I try to respond to the most senior people with whom I work as soon as possible.

If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person in your industry, who would you want to invite?
I would be interested in having dinner with a CEO of a major technology company who is really pushing the envelope and changing the world of technology as we know it (ie: Elon Musk. Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Ma etc..) I enjoy getting the chance to  speak to people who are  thinking outside the box and contemplating the future of technology in creative ways.  I find it helpful in my new role where I am helping set the strategy for a major public tech company to be able to think creatively about how to remain competitive and how to continue to grow and innovate in our industry.  

Vanessa Liu, Pod Leader of the Week


Vanessa is the COO at Trigger Media Group. In her role, she is responsible for overseeing business operations across Trigger’s portfolio companies, sourcing investment opportunities and managing investor relations.  

Previously, Vanessa was an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company. Vanessa received her JD from Harvard Law School and AB in Psychology from Harvard University.

What about your career has surprised you the most?
If you told me at 21, when I was wrapping up my undergraduate degree in behavioral neuroscience, that I would be a digital media entrepreneur and investor many years later, I would have been really surprised. Back then, I thought I was going to be a researcher, and eventually, an astronaut. But then I slowly realized that 10-15 years could go by without any true impact being made - and I realized I was too impatient for results.

My career has taken so many turns since - from the sciences, I went to human rights and international law, then to management consulting and finally to where I am today, building and investing in businesses. I love the thrill of embarking on a new venture, building and motivating a team around it, and shooting for the moon while solving big pain points within an industry. It is still surprising to me that my desire to have tangible results and a lasting impact on the world around me has led me to having a career in business as I had never bothered to read the business section of the news until well after college.

What about the future excites you?
I am so excited by the advancements being made in alleviating poverty, eradicating diseases, interplanetary space exploration and in general, the development of new businesses in industries that are poorly served today. I love witnessing new developments happening right in front of us that change our lives for the better.

What about the future scares you?
As a mother to two young children, I am terrified about the social inequalities that are being brought on by globalization and automation. As much as I love technology, I know that it will mean deep structural changes that many will be unprepared for - and we need to start thinking of solutions today to create new opportunities and jobs and deal with the psychology of inequity. I am also incredibly scared of the effect being always attached to devices will have on society. I see kids nowadays unable to conduct deep conversations, much less establish eye contact with one another, because they are glued to their phones. Climate change is also keeping me up at night. These issues, taken collectively, make me realize that we may be the first generation leaving our children worse off. And this fear drives me in my work all the time.


Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why?
Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie is simply one of the best books on the meaning of life. We don't have much time on this earth, and the learnings in there are salient. “Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” This is how I try to live my life, everyday.

What tool do you use every day that is invaluable?
aking 5 minutes each day to be mindful. I take the time to jot down what I'm grateful for and what gives me joy - and what things, activities or relationships I need to weed out because they aren't positive.

What does the word 'power' mean to you? 
For me, it means the ability to make positive change and have significant impact. 

If you woke up and had 1,000 emails in your inbox and could only answer 100, how would you choose which ones to answer?
Sounds like a typical day! I am people driven in how I respond to emails. I scroll through to first see if there are pressing things from my family or related to my children. Then I look for emails from my business partner or teams - since those typically need action on my part and they are the cornerstone of what I do. This includes, of course, the InsideHook emails my team publishes - to see that we are living up to our promise to help our readers save time with our content. Then emails from people I know - investors, acquaintances - would come next. Finally, everything else is tackled.

If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person in your industry, who would you want to invite?
I'm still waiting for my husband to organize a meal with his boss, Richard Branson (my husband is on his legal team), so I'd love for you to team up with him! Sir Richard is obviously a brilliant entrepreneur, but it is how he does it that is interesting to me - team first, and purpose driven - and while also innovating in areas I care deeply about, such as space exploration and poverty alleviation. He really is living his life meaningfully, a la Morrie, and that's inspirational.

Jodi Love, Pod Leader of the Week



Jodi is a Managing Director and an Equity Research Analyst at Jennison Associates.

Jodi was previously at Balyasny Asset Management, where she was a senior equity analyst for consumer retail. She began her career as an investment banking analyst at J.P. Morgan Securities.

Jodi received a BA with first class honors from McGill University and an AAS in applied science and fashion merchandising management with highest honors from the Fashion Institute of Technology.

What about your career has surprised you the most?

Being in New York City really did open my eyes to so many different career opportunities that I didn’t know existed when I grew up in Canada.  I didn’t know what “a job in finance” meant when I was growing up, and now this is the career I have been in for almost my entire working life!   I love that all my different experiences have been incremental to what I do now – which combines my love for retailing and investing!  Every day, I try to understand where my weaknesses are and figure out how to build skills and gain knowledge which will help me invest better and adapt quickly to the ever changing world of retailing and investing.    

What about the future excites you?
 The new ideas/businesses/services/time savers that entrepreneurs will come up with to help my life in ways that I haven’t even dreamed up yet or know I need!!

What about the future scares you?
Goodness, this list could be endless!  My children getting hurt or getting lost, global warming, the unintended consequences of technology at the expense of human interaction, a global health epidemic, being fearful of the times we live in  … I think I’ll stop now.

 Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why?
There are so many books that have impacted me!  One of the more recent in the past few years is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  There were so many reasons I loved this book – from my personal past as the grandchild of a Holocaust survivor and as someone who deeply loves to read this book is filled with amazing (and sometimes confusing topics – radio technology and carbon bonds??) prose and complex passages.  

I could not do as good a job explaining why its impact on me was so deep as the author – so I will let him explain in his own words: “The title is also a metaphorical suggestion that there are countless invisible stories still buried within World War II — that stories of ordinary children, for example, are a kind of light we do not typically see. Ultimately, the title is intended as a suggestion that we spend too much time focused on only a small slice of the spectrum of possibility."  The book helps remind me both personally and professionally to continually dig beneath the top layer of a person, conversation, business problem, stock idea, or question as there are so many little things that you can learn that aren't visible right away.  It also is a reminder to me to remember how far we have come in what is actually not that long a period of time in history.  It makes me reflect on my past and reminds me that even though the world we live in today is far from perfect, of all the progress we have made as a society and as human beings.


What tool do you use everyday that is invaluable

My Iphones (yes, plural)!  Lifesaver in terms of being able to be in constant communication work wise and personally.  I feel that mainly for the better (although yes, sometimes it’s stressful) being able to be in constant communication with my office or home means I don’t have to be physically sitting at my desk all the time (or vice versa) and I have the flexibility to stay in touch from anywhere.

 What does the word power mean to you?
 Power to me means influence and impact.  Power comes from having the ability to make changes and influence others to make change.  Having the positive ability to impact whatever is in your sphere and create meaningful value is powerful.

 If you woke up and had X emails and could only answer X (ever) , how would you choose which ones to answer?
I'll focus on my work email as I have a separate personal email for family and friends.  I first focus on any email from any of my portfolio managers since they are the most important and typically require action.  I answer those first.  I then scroll through to see what news and research is out on my specific portfolio investments and put those in a second tier.  Thirdly, I read emails that have comprehensive recaps of all the news overnight in the consumer discretionary space globally.  Then, if I had any remaining emails left, I would respond to any emails about upcoming meetings or scheduling related. Keeping my personal and work emails separate is not only good for compliance purposes (!) but also because if a family member or one of my children's teachers need to reach me - those go to a different account so they don't get lost among work related emails.

If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person in your industry, who would be on the invite list?
Maybe stereotypical but for sure the person at the top of my list is Jeff Bezos from Amazon.  People who know me, know that AMZN has made my life amazing (on a personal level!) and extremely depressing on a work level (the mall is dying!  No one will ever shop in stores again! No one can compete!!).   Amazon completely and utterly changed the way in which people around the world shop and consume goods.  Jeff has singlehandedly changed the face of retailing forever.  He is truly a visionary and an incredible and motivational leader.  He encourages his employees to try new things all the time.  He is 100% customer focused.  Amazon has almost always been the first mover in everything they do and Jeff’s leadership skills and vision is just extraordinary to me.  I recommend anyone who has 5 minutes to read this year’s AMZN letter to shareholders – it gives a quick, yet fascinating insight into what makes Amazon and Bezos tick by always focusing on “Day 1”.


Adebola Osakwe, Pod Leader of the Week

Adebola Osakwe

Adebola Osakwe joined KKR in 2015 and is a member of the Human Resources Team, where she leads the Firm’s Inclusion and Diversity efforts. Prior to joining KKR, Mrs. Osakwe was an executive director on Morgan Stanley’s diversity and inclusion team, where she spent almost 9 years. At Morgan Stanley, she served as head of diversity talent acquisition strategy partnering closely with the experienced and campus hiring teams. Prior to this role, she was a diversity coverage officer supporting the infrastructure and investment management businesses.

What about your career has surprised you the most?
I started my career in college admissions working for Barnard College followed by several years at New York University.  As a college admissions counselor, I provided awareness and access to students interested in receiving a higher degree.  At the time, I never imagined that I would find another role that provided me the same fulfillment and had similar impact. And I certainly never expected to find that in the world of finance! Over 15 years later in my career, I find myself pleasantly surprised in my current role as Head of Inclusion and Diversity at KKR. At KKR, I have the opportunity to focus on attracting, developing, promoting and retaining diverse talent because we recognize/understand the importance of having diverse teams.

What about the future excites you?
I am excited about the prospect of continuing to make a difference in the financial sector.

What about the future scares you?
As a mother of 3 young children (ages 10, 7 and 5) I wonder what the future holds for them.  I want to make sure that I, along with my husband, raise good, kind-hearted, successful, hard-working, contributing members of society.  It is important to me that they understand how important it is to give back.


Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why?
Mika Brzezinski’s Knowing your Value is one of the most impactful books I have ever read.  It was one of the first books that not only outlined the thematic challenges that women face with speaking up, asking for what they want and being direct but it provided relatable examples and specific language that could be used in various situations.

What tool do you use every day that is invaluable?
I could not live without my phone. Given my busy life, it helps me stay connected to my family, keeps me organized around their various schedules and allows me to stay informed of current events.

             Sheryl Sandberg

What does the word 'power' mean to you?
Power means coming from a place of strength and being able to influence change, make decisions and impact your environment in meaningful ways.

If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person, who would you want to invite?
If I could have dinner with one person it would be with Sheryl Sandberg.  She has such an interesting background, remarkable career, and inspiring story.

Parity Partners Prepares Emerging Leaders aiming for the C-Suite

On August 9 at NEA’s offices in San Francisco, more than 150 venture capitalists and entrepreneurs joined Parity Partners to listen to a panel discussion on Leadership. The session was the 4th Parity Talk as part of the P3 curriculum. P3 (Parity Professional Program) is an education initiative created by Parity Partners that aims to build new leaders and diverse work cultures in high impact sectors.

P3’s 4th Talk was designed to give attendees and program participants the tools they need to craft a path to the C-suite, a process that often lacks transparency. During the hour-long discussion, the expert panel shed light on what executive recruiters and senior managers look for when they evaluate the potential and achievements of promising candidates.

From left to right: Melissa Taunton (NEA), Andy Price (Index Ventures), Gia Scinto (Y Combinator), and Hilary Gosher (Insight Venture Partners).

From left to right: Melissa Taunton (NEA), Andy Price (Index Ventures), Gia Scinto (Y Combinator), and Hilary Gosher (Insight Venture Partners).

Panelists included Gia Scinto, Head of Talent at Y Combinator,  Melissa Taunton, Partner at NEA, and Andy Price, Mentor-in-Residence at Index Ventures. The discussion was moderated by Hilary Gosher, Managing Director at Insight Venture Partners and founding member of Parity Partners.

In the tech industry, companies develop a product through consciously building features that customers value and want to purchase.  In the talent environment, the individual is akin to the product, and one of the features that the market values is leadership.

Leadership is multi-faceted.  First, leaders require a goal and vision for what the organization or team should achieve.  Second, leaders are able to translate that vision into action. Lastly, leaders empower and excite people on the team, and work with them to create an environment of personal learning and accomplishment.  

Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM has noted, that leadership is difficult.  A leader should “always take on things you’ve never done before.  Growth and comfort do not coexist”.

Andy Price, an executive recruiter for 22 years who has completed more than 500 searches and recruited dozens of CEOs for high-growth startups and multi-billion dollar public companies, says that when he evaluates talent, he looks beyond “relevant experience” to understand what drives people.  He looks for people who “have a thesis or a point of view” worth defending, especially emerging venture capitalists.  Leaders put a stake in the ground and have specific ideas about what the team vision or investment strategy should be.  They are prepared to explain and defend their point of view.


Melissa Taunton, who focuses on executive talent acquisition across NEA’s portfolio, highlights “integrity and authenticity” as key factors she looks for in leaders. She explains that the best leaders “really understand what they are good at...and they play to their strengths.”  Leaders that are aware of their own capabilities, can then surround themselves with team members who have complementary skills. For Ms. Taunton, it’s clear that leaders have strengths and they have honed their capabilities in specific areas.

When asked “what advice would you give to women in this audience about being a leader?”, Gia Scinto, who has recruited talent for Andreessen Horowitz, Google and now Y Combinator, recommends that people be “opinionated, definitely authentic, be human, be kind, and don’t try to be perfect.”

Ms. Scinto adds that you should remember to “weave in the personal into the professional” so your personal narrative is not lost in an effort to be perfect.

Among other questions, the panel also touched on mentorship, common mistakes emerging leaders make, and how leaders can create a climate of trust in the teams they lead.  The full Parity Talk can be listened to and watched below.


Follow Parity Partners on Twitter and LinkedIn for future updates.

P3 is made possible by the following generous sponsors:


Sophie Jones, Pod Leader of the Week

Sophie Jones (center), Principal at Centerview

Sophie Jones (center), Principal at Centerview

Sophie Jones is a Principal at Centerview Partners.

Dr. Jones is trained in surgery, specializing in heart and lung transplant at Columbia University, where she was Chief Fellow and served on the Boards Quality Council. She has been awarded an NIH fellowship, and has authored numerous papers and book chapters. 

Dr. Jones received her M.D. from Boston University School of Medicine, and a B.A. in History from Yale University. 

1. What about your career has surprised you the most?

I cannot imagine my surprise as a 22-year old university graduate, if someone had told me that I would be working in biopharma M&A advisory 15 years later. However, as my career has progressed from the United Nations, to the surgical amphitheater, to investment banking, I have viewed every step as an opportunity to challenge myself to impact the health of humans across the world in a more meaningful way.

2. What about the future excites you?

I do not believe I will ever truly discover what I want to “be” when I grow up. I love the challenge and excitement of a journey, and I find motivation and inspiration from working with brilliant teams of outstanding individuals.

As a world, we are at such an exciting moment in history for the healthcare industry. Advancements in technology have planted the seeds for major advances in the treatment of diseases. Going forward, our challenge is not only to recognize those opportunities, but also to develop an entirely new treatment paradigm, as we learn what it means to be human and compassionate when for the first time in history, it is possible for health to become a human right, rather than a privilege. I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

3. What about the future scares you?

I worry on a broad scale about the development of extreme divisions in society as globalization has created enormous disparities in wealth and opportunity, and individual achievement is increasingly valued over communal well-being. There is no simple answer as to how to decrease the divide and lift up the poorest and most disenfranchised among us. However, I am heartened by how many wonderful foundations are working to make an impact, and I hope to continue to lend my two hands however I can.

4. Which book has had the most significant impact on your life and why?

I think of books in the same way I think of paintings—words take on brilliant shapes and colors in my mind. I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” when I was quite young. It was the first book I read that danced in vivid color in my mind. Before that book, I remember only faint black and white images. I believe Marquez’s writing unlocked the beauty hidden within the written word for me.

5. What tool do you use every day that is invaluable?

My most invaluable tool is my mind. I am so incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity to pursue higher education and now, I am trying to put that to good use. It is a great privilege to have a career where my thoughts and creativity are valued, and my voice matters. Only a very few decades ago, women were not afforded such opportunities; and before that, it was only a very small upper class of men who had such an opportunity to pursue thought as a vocation.

6. What does the word 'power' mean to you?

Did I pay the electricity bill this month? Assuming I did, I think of “power” as a word steeped in duality. Within one small word, is an ability within individuals and groups to influence and mold progress when used in a positive manner. However, there is a darker component to power that holds the potential for great harm, and a loss of empathy towards those without it. While an individual or group might yearn for “power”, attaining it without the recognition of its deleterious potential, may be one of the most negative of human abilities. I find “power” a word to be used sparingly and only in specific circumstances, where it’s meaning can be fully comprehended by both the speaker and the listener. 

7. If you woke up and had 1,000 emails in your inbox and could only answer 100, how would you choose which ones to answer?

That sounds about like my morning! My approach is to cover the most ground possible first thing in the morning, so I am set up for the day. As a scientist and mathematician, I use a soft algorithm that includes first, checking for emails from my family – those get priority always. If my mother sent 100 emails, I wouldn’t answer anyone else. Next, I exclude all “update” emails and sort the rest by sender and topic. I answer one email per unique topic. If there were to be >100 topics, I would sort by relevance to immediate tasks I already know about, and then work towards the more obscure until I hit 100. There is nothing better than a nice clean inbox in the morning. It keeps me on top of the rest of the day.   

8. If we could arrange a dinner for you with one person in your industry, who would you want to invite?

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

I will remain contemporary, but take a bit of liberty in defining my industry to include former scientists so that I might have dinner with Angela Merkel, who holds a doctorate in physical chemistry. She is both brilliant and politically savvy. She has also shown herself to be level-headed and clear in her purpose to serve her nation and Europe. I would be on the edge of my seat to hear her thoughts on anything from the political world stage, to how she managed her career progression.