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Rising Stars: Socially Responsible Venture Capital
Realizing that her first job at the Fed wasn't right for her, Maura now works for a socially responsible venture capital fund, evaluating what companies her fund should invest in.
Name: Maura McCarthy
Years Out of College: 2-5
Company: Ironwood Equity Fund
When Maura was in college she planned to do a Ph.D. in
economics or maybe go to law school. As she puts it, "About
20 percent of Georgetown graduates get law degrees. There's
a lot of interest in law. But I got really interested in
economics and decided to go to the two-year Federal Reserve
research analyst program, instead." There, Maura began
working on interest-rate forecasting.
From Then to Now
At the end of the two year program, Maura realized she
"didn't just want to be a cog in the interest rate
forecasting process. The work that I did didn't have a
visible impact on anything. I wanted a little more social
At first, Maura was caught a little off guard by the lack
of college-style exams and feedback in the venture capital
world. "You're not being evaluated all the time, and a lot
of times people don't give you feedback until review. By
then it's too late, for you and for them. I think it's
really important to ask for feedback. Venture capital is
like an apprenticeship. There are so many soft
"Monday mornings are almost always partner calls. The
partnership gets together and discusses portfolio
companies. Some days you go travel to visit companies.
Other days you do financial analysis of those companies
you've been visiting."
Maura points out that there are limited opportunities to
move up vertically. "In some companies you can move
vertically, but it's rare." Instead, many people move
laterally or go to some kind of graduate school. "I think
business school makes you well-rounded and you approach
management challenges more creatively."
Did I Ever Think I'd End Up Here?
Maura says: "I don't think I even knew what venture capital was in college! But I knew I wanted to be doing something I liked a lot. And I like it a lot. If you love learning, venture capital is the place to be. You're always learning about new industries. You do something different every day. I don't see why anyone wouldn't want to do it!"
Advice for Others
"Well, first something that's not specific to venture
capital: almost all jobs come from relationships we have.
[Before moving from ICIC to Ironwood] I talked to people I
knew at The Kraft Group, at Goldman Sachs, and other
socially-involved VC funds. But one of the ICIC board
members got involved at Ironwood, and I was able to follow.
Ultimately, informed networking helps."
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