Invest Canada

#IC19 Spotlight: YPC Mentoring Is Critical For The Private Equity and Venture Capital Industry

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At #IC19, CVCA’s 2019 conference in Vancouver June 4 – 6, delegates from the YPC enjoyed a brand new session dedicated to mentoring the next generation of private capital professionals. Here are the takeaways from the luncheon presented by Torys LLP.

Last week the CVCA held its annual conference, Invest Canada 19, in Vancouver. The conference kicked off with a mentoring luncheon for students and young professionals in private equity and venture capital, sponsored by Torys LLP.

There is a huge number of younger [professionals] in the industry who don’t necessarily have access to senior [professionals], or don’t feel that they have a way to get that kind of exposure on a regular basis,” says Shannon Martin, co-chair of the CVCA’s Young Professionals Committee and an associate with Fulcrum Capital Partners.

Forty young professionals attended the YPC round-table event alongside six mentors: Ironbridge Equity PartnersPeter Dowse, CAI Capital Management’sCurtis Johansson and Tracey McVicar,CIBC Innovation’s Mark Usher, Alberta Enterprise Corporation’s Kristina Williams and the CVCA’sKim Furlong.

[There was] a lot of great energy in the room – people connecting and meeting each other and getting some great advice from senior folks in the industry,” says Martin.

So just having that experience and being able to be a part of that was incredible.”

Janelle Goulard, Director of Health Investment at Pangaea Ventures has worked in venture capital for four years. She has run similar ask me anything” events as the university outreach coordinator for YPC Vancouver. She attended the #IC19 mentoring luncheon because she had questions about the challenges the mentors have faced in the industry, including barriers to their career progression, the kind of risks they’ve had to take and what they would have done differently.

I think hearing in an open, honest way about how some of these senior individuals in the industry have gotten to where they have in their careersis really beneficial to how we think about our careers,” says Goulard.

One thing that stood out to her was advice she received from one of the luncheon’s female mentors, who told her to spend less time on being self-critical.

The luncheon featured a mixture of both female and male mentors, which Goulard says is ideal not only for women, but for anyone in the industry.

I’ve always been a big proponent of having a male mentor just as much as a female,” she says. We get the best discussions and best learning (when you have) a good balance of both.”

YPC member Joshua Goodfield, Community and Partnerships Manager at C100, attended the luncheon wanting advice on how to prioritize his time and become more efficient.

One moment that uniquely stood out to me was when one of my mentor’s recommended trying improv classes. He said it allowed him to get out of his comfort zone and think quickly on his feet,” says Goodfield.

Kristina Williams, CEO of Alberta Enterprise Corporation, who served as one of the mentors, believes that these events are vital for networking.

I don’t think I’ve had any of my work opportunities from cold-calling; it’s more through the network where someone’s called me up or I’ve met someone at some point in time,” she says.

CVCA board chair and mentor Mark Usher, Managing Director North American Leader at CIBC Innovation Banking, says the event was an opportunity for seasoned professionals to pay it forward. Usher, who has worked in the industry for 20 years, says succeeding in VC and PE is about putting in the time, being curious, advocating for yourself and networking. He also acknowledges that young people today are much better at reaching out and building relationships.

When I was in their shoes 25, 30 years ago, I would not have been as courageous as they are to take this opportunity and network with some pretty seasoned professionals in the industry, so I admire them for their guts and their courage and their ambition,” he says.

Speaking about the interplay between authenticity, risk and compensation, Usher explains: People are always balancing those things. They want to work for a company that feels right, they want to be fairly paid, but they also want to feel like they’re part of something bigger than just their job.”

Outside of attending events like the mentoring luncheon, Usher suggests that speaking with someone in a senior role is sometimes about being persistent.

I like someone to ask me twice… If they follow up with me, and it’s remotely personal, I will respond, and I’ll meet with them,” he shares.

In a turn of events, Shannon Martin says she noticed that some of the mentees were providing guidance to mentors.

[They were] sharing advice both ways and different experiences people had, which I thought was a great forum, and just a lot of key takeaways for everyone,” says Martin.

Over the next 5 to 10 years, she says, these young people will be moving into those senior level roles and sharing the wisdom they’ve gained.

Building on it over time is going to be critical for the industry.”

Meanwhile, Martin is on her way to becoming a mentor herself. She is giving back by meeting with young females and students interested in the industry.

I try and share what I love about private equity, what makes my job amazing and how I feel I’m impacting the world.”

About The Young Professionals Committee (YPC)

Get together with fellow young professionals and live in the moment while developing relationships that last a lifetime.

The YPC is dedicated to bringing together the next generation of industry professionals through a series of all-fun, no-stress events throughout the year. Open to all venture capital and private equity professionals at the sub-partner level, the YPC’s purpose is to foster a deeper sense of community, camaraderie and connectivity among industry peers.

Join us for our range of networking events that don’t even feel like networking – things like go-karting or slurping wine and oysters. We host about 10 – 12 events throughout the year in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, as well as other markets when the opportunity is too good to resist. If you don’t live near the event city – book a plane ticket, and make sure you bring all your like-level colleagues with you.

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