July 19, 2019
PUBLISHED BY Jason Malki
SOURCE Authority Magazine
As part of my series about “the five things we need to do to close the VC gender gap,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Trzepacz (JT). JT is Wildcat Venture Partners’ Operating Partner and Chief People Officer, focused on operationalizing Wildcat’s proprietary framework — The Traction Gap; connecting talent and people strategies to accelerate performance for portfolio companies; and leading Wildcat’s Limited Partner relations efforts.
Prior to joining Wildcat, JT was Executive Vice President at Rocket Fuel where she oversaw global business operations that included human resources, legal, facilities, IT, business intelligence, project management, and communications. JT has more than 20 years of operating experience implementing human resources and operational strategies at several transformative and industry-leading companies, including LivingSocial, Salesforce, Electronic Arts, Yahoo, and CNET Networks.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the back story that brought you to this career path?
They always say it’s all about the network. My career path seems more like a lattice — all interconnected based on industry trends, talent markets, and relationships. I have been fortunate to be exposed to media, gaming, social, mobile, SaaS, and AI/ML, which are all converging in how digital transformation is reshaping consumer and enterprise businesses. I wasn’t looking for this career opportunity, but how could you not want to get deep exposure around new technology and business solutions, meeting the future leaders that will disrupt categories and create new ways of operating? How could I not want to leverage my expertise in helping these leaders bring out the potential of themselves, their ideas and their teams? I just couldn’t pass this up!
Can you share a story of your most successful Angel or VC investment? In your opinion, what was its main lesson?
I am not an investing partner, so I don’t have a “most successful investment” story. But I can tell you that in my 25+ years of investment, working for amazing companies and now being exposed to more than 40 companies in my operating partner position, there is consistently one main theme that makes or breaks a company, regardless of industry sector, product, customer or tech: the people. This may sound cliché, but all too often I have seen leaders sit on people decisions far too long. Some have moved too slowly to hire someone in or move someone out. Others have compromised people decisions because it was just plain easier for them than facing reality or to save face. I’ve seen company executives challenged with balancing a “seasoned pro” over creatively leveraging the potential and passion of an up and comer. Even tolerating an ineffective board is ultimately a people challenge. In every instance, it all boils down to securing the right people, at the right time, with the right experiences to move the company to the next value inflection point. One false move (a bad hire that lingers for too long) can cost a company a lot in the end.
Can you share a story of an Angel or VC funding “failure” of yours? Is there a lesson or takeaway that our readers can learn from?
Well, as I’ve said, it often comes down to people. People will contribute to both the success and the failures. I think we just need to get more comfortable with failure. Failure is what every founder and VC should expect. In fact, everyone should be very comfortable with encountering many failures along the way — it is those experiences which make us grow, adjust, learn, and thrive. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to accept failures or mistakes, and there are many leaders, companies, and cultures that fear failure. For women, failure is particularly tough, since we can be held to a different — and in many cases higher — standard by others. In fact, we are most definitely our own biggest critic and hold ourselves accountable to such high standards that failure can be devastating. I believe failure plays a large role in contributing to our main topic around the VC gender gap.
Read the full article on Authority Magazine.