(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)
Melissa C. Guzy is the Co-Founder and the Managing Partner of Arbor Ventures, which is focused on investing in FinTech, Big Data, and Digital Commerce with offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Tel Aviv. Arbor invests in companies that have a regional or global reach. Melissa has more than 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and as a venture investor, across Asia and Silicon Valley, and has been recognized as one of the Top 200 FinTech Influencers in Asia 2018. She has been a guest lecturer on the Venture Capital Industry at the University of Florida, Hong Kong University, Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She serves on the Board of Directors of the HKVCA and is Co-Chair of the HKVCA Venture Committee.as well as on the Board of Innovation for the Hong Kong Securities and Commodities Commission. Melissa is a Hopkins Fellow and participated in the Women’s Leadership Program at Harvard University.
What makes you do what you do?
I get up every morning with an aspiration to change the world. At Arbor, we are fortunate to partner with some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, We get to participate in their journey, helping entrepreneurs build great companies. At Arbor, we have built Asia’s largest Financial strategic network to help our entrepreneurs and we are continuously driving forward to support entrepreneurs and maximise impact.
How did you rise in the industry you are in?
I’ve been in the Financial/Investment space for over 20 years, both as an entrepreneur and heading up a large SIlicon Valley firm in Asia. I’ve seen both sides of the coin – an entrepreneur who joined a venture firm – VantagePoint, I then started Arbor Ventures to return to my entrepreneurial roots as I wanted to help others pursue their dreams.
Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
I enjoy building things from the ground up and being part of the journey. At Arbor, I get the opportunity to invest in and engage with exceptional entrepreneurs who are looking at ways to change the FinTech landscape, whether they are aiming at being local leaders in Asia, or companies from across the globe with world-class technology applicable to the Asian market.
Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
I was very fortunate to have a few mentors and even now I reach out to them for advice, from a cross-section of the industries I’m involved in. One never stops learning unless they choose to stop.
How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
It was by circumstance, each one of them enables me to have a sounding board, and we have developed strong relationships over the years, and these relationships are invaluable in continuing to learn and develop.
Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
Venture Capital is a mentoring business and I try to give the same feedback and challenges to our team. Natural curiosity is a key element of any VC. It is key to us to mentor both talent within the company and Arbor’s portfolio companies. It’s a key driver in building successful companies. Additionally, for anyone – whether man or woman, who have achieved success in any field, I believe it is essential to give back and nurture talent both in your own field and other areas.
Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
Diversity is important. The world is diverse and it just makes good business sense to have a diverse team. At Arbor, this is something which is a big part of who we are. In the company, there are seven nationalities, from a broad range of disciplines. By having a diverse team you get different skill sets and viewpoints, reflecting the complex global environment we live in today.
What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
To be humble with success and generous with your time to inspire others. I believe it’s key to understand both your strengths and weaknesses and work with your team and colleagues to push everyone forward and continue learning.
Advice for others?
Pursue a passion, expect to work incredibly hard, and when you succeed be generous with your time to mentor others.
If you’d like to get in touch with Melissa C. Guzy, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissa-guzy-52b86747/
To learn more about Arbor Ventures, please click here.