I have had a non-traditional career, working in various roles spanning customer service, sales, marketing and communications and operations, across various industries over seven years. Three years ago, I transitioned to Venture Capital - I started in operations before moving on to deal sourcing, selection and disbursement.
More often than not, the investment from the funds I have worked is the founder’s first institutional check and at that stage the founder requires a significant amount of support to build the business. Working with early-stage founders married two fundamental elements that brought me fulfilment in my previous roles. First, building things from the ground up, second, improving lives and helping people.
Why this programme?
While I was able to grow by learning on the job and researching, I wanted to further my knowledge by participating in some form of formalised education to learn more, particularly about the general partner and limited partner sides
For me, choosing Oxford’s Private Equity Programme was simple for several reasons, three of which stood out the most - the diverse alumni network, the programme content, and the faculty (in particular Tim Jenkinson, Chris Kallos and Jack Edmonson). But what sealed the deal for me was my conversation with Steve Brewster, Associate Director of Executive Education who was warm, and patient and responded to all my questions on our very first call in 2022.
What I was expecting from the programme?
So far, my work in venture capital has primarily been with early-stage founders as I have worked with funds that run an accelerator model, I applied to the programme to learn more about what it takes to manage and structure a fund, and hear first-hand experiences about investing in developed markets as my work has primarily been with founders in emerging markets.
The programme very easily allowed me to do both in a practical and hands-on manner. The sessions on modelling the waterfall, fund governance and structures, buy-outs, and co-investment opportunities were all extremely insightful. I also liked that we had case studies daily where we had to dive into real life relevant examples that perfectly aligned with the programme’s curriculum.
In addition to that, I was one of the less experienced ones in the class so just being in the same room with over sixty other participants who were all further along in their career and mostly worked with larger funds or ran their own funds, was very inspiring for me.
First is the network, which has proven useful in a very short period of three months. From the introductions I got from a fellow participant while running a founder sourcing event in a different country, to the broader connections that keep rolling in from other participants, participating in the programme has improved my network qualitatively.
Additionally, the programme sparked my intellectual curiosity and encouraged me to explore new ideas and perspectives. The career stories of other participants from similar backgrounds as mine also inspired me to think and dream bigger. I was exposed to a wide range of topics in and outside the classroom, and I enjoyed having my horizons expanded.
Everyday was truly a learning experience for me, but my biggest takeaway from the programme was clarity on my goals and clear steps for the next five years of my career. The programme helped me to identify areas for improvement, as well as the skills, knowledge, and resources that I need to acquire in order to reach my objectives. Two conversations that stood out in particular were my conversations with Chris Kallos at Cherwell’s Boathouse during punting before dinner and my conversation with Tim Jenkinson after lunch on the final day.
The programme may have lasted a week but I left with learnings for the next five years.