Future Private Capital Leaders: Pauline Brunel

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Encouraging and supporting the development of industry leadership is a central part of the sustainability of Canadian private capital. Showcasing talent and telling their stories helps to build and encourage the next generation.

The CVCA is embarking on a new content series featuring the junior talent in the ecosystem. In the first of this new series, CVCA’s Research Director, Darrell Pinto, caught up with Impression Venture’s Analyst, Pauline Brunel.

Pauline Brunel, Analyst, Impression Ventures

Impression Ventures is an early stage venture and late seed VC firm focused on investing in fintech and related technology companies.

What inspired you to move to Canada? Why Toronto and not New York or Paris?

I’ve lived in a couple of the main cities in Europe such as Paris, London or Luxembourg, and approaching 30, together with my partner, we’ve realized we wanted something even more different. As much as a kid growing in North America can dream about Paris, London or Rome, a kid growing in Europe dreams about North America. We’ve thought about New York, and that would have been a great experience, don’t get me wrong. But Toronto is definitely a place we can both call home. It can offer all the city life one can dream about, as well as the ability to get lost in the countryside every weekend if you want to.

Given your previous global experience, what attracted you to Canadian venture capital?

When I arrived in Canada, I wanted to get the most of this opportunity, and make my next career move be what I really wanted to do. Venture capital. This is something I was thinking about for quite some time. In fact, I started my career working in M&A with growth e‑commerce companies. And after working for, and with bigger institutions as an Associate for JP Morgan, and a senior officer for a regulator, I knew I wanted to go back to the startup world. And I feel like it makes more sense for me to do that now I’ve developed skills and industry knowledge to bring to the table.

When I was job hunting, I spent a lot of time discovering the ecosystem, going to pitch events and meeting with both entrepreneurs and investors. I quickly realized there is a huge momentum for Canada, Toronto (in particular), the startup world and the fintech ecosystem. I really feel like the planets are aligned and I am at the right place at the right time, and this is exciting!

Name two people that have inspired you in your career? Why?

The first person I’d like to talk about is Helena Morrissey. Until very recently, this incredible woman was the CEO of a major London based Asset Management company (£50Bn AuM) and a mum of 8! Working hard and having a successful career as a woman and having a family is not about choices anymore. She helped me realize the world is changing already and being who you want to be is up to you.

The second person is my father. He is an entrepreneur and has pretty much always been. Growing up in this environment, you learn there are good and tough times. During tough times, what struck me is his willingness to always look for better ones. Every single time. No matter how hard the previous failure or downturn was. And I think it’s important to realize life and career are both active paths. You can bet or pray, but to make things happen, the best way is to try hard. And try again.

In 2038, what would you like to be in a position to look back and say to yourself today?

Dear me, I am this wiser, good looking, fulfilled woman, wife and mother you’ll one day become. Congratulations on getting your dream job, make the most of it and learn as much as you can. Also, continue to explore and to be curious. The experiences you went through make you who you are and will eventually make me who I am. So, I am not going to ruin the surprise by telling you what’s going to happen. Just remember to never lose the passion, take time for yourself and live your passions, and to stick to good wine! Life is too short to drink bad ones. Good luck, it’s gonna be ok.”

Describe one challenge you have had to overcome in your career?

I think I am kind of living it right now. Starting from scratch in this brand-new life and career was and still is very challenging. Especially when venture capital is a people business and is a lot about having and developing a strong network. That being said, this is everything but a surprise to me. I knew it would be challenging. When we took the decision to move to a different continent and I started to look for a job in venture capital, I knew what I would have to go through, I also knew I had a lot to learn but a lot to share too. And again, in the end, it’s all about knowing what you want, picture it and go and get it. So, I’ve decided to go out there and to take the plunge. Attending a lot of events, taking notes, having coffees with key and random people. And it paid, as I found this position with Impression Ventures, not too long after starting my job search. This is still an ongoing process, and I am working hard to make myself relevant. So far, it’s been an incredible journey and I had the chance to meet so many inspiring and helping people.

Tell us a bit about the bi-monthly dinner cohort you started?

The idea started with a couple of other young women working in VC, and the concept is really to bring together Analyst and Associate-level women working in the Toronto venture capital ecosystem. We talk about the ecosystem, tech trends and share stories. We also brainstorm on initiatives we could work on to help our industry on the gender gap transition. It’s gratifying, constructive and exciting! It’s also interesting to see how each dinner participants’ background and story are different and how this diversity helps us to come up with stimulating ideas.

For the first edition, it was the 6 of us. And it turns out we are more than suspected, as we are now a group of 14 so far, and just had our second edition earlier this month. So, if you are a woman working in VC in Toronto and are interested to be part of those dinners, please feel free to reach out to be added to our mailing list. Stay tuned for the next event!

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