Note from NVCA: As part of NVCA’s VentureForward initiative, this ‘Spotlight on Rising Stars in VC’ blog series showcases individuals in the venture industry from different backgrounds and across the workforce to share experiences, spotlight their journeys and successes, and educate the next generation of people considering a career in venture capital.
Spotlight on Rising Stars in VC: Brittany Hargest
Name: Brittany Hargest
Location: I grew up in Salisbury, Maryland and home for me is Baltimore, Maryland. I currently work at Greenspring Associates in Baltimore, Maryland.
Years of VC experience: Five
Position description: As Vice President, I am responsible for the sourcing and diligence efforts on fund, direct and secondary opportunities as well as ongoing monitoring post-investment.
Q. Who are a few of the individuals in the industry that have been the most critical to your professional journey?
There are several people throughout my career in venture that have served as mentors, critical to my professional journey. First and foremost, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my two Managing General Partners, Ashton Newhall and Jim Lim. Over the course of my career here to date, I’ve traveled with them to dozens of meetings during which I developed first-hand experience with investment due diligence, board dynamics, and fundraising. On a regular basis we engage in targeted conversations where they provide constructive feedback and suggested tweaks of my handling of a given situation to afford me a greater opportunity for future success. In addition to the interactions that I have with Ashton and Jim, we also have a formalized mentorship program where all team members are afforded the opportunity to learn from more senior team members. It’s fostered an open-door policy as a firm culture that I’m incredibly fortunate to be a beneficiary of.
Outside Greenspring, several of the GPs with whom we work have been incredibly helpful as mentors. In particular, Kate Mitchell, co-founder of Scale Venture Partners, has not only given me great advice, but also has advocated for my involvement in everything from panels to events to deals that we should consider to people I should meet. She’s an advocate for diversity and women in the venture industry and her efforts have greatly benefited me and the broader venture ecosystem. I am fortunate to call her a mentor, sounding board, and friend.
Q. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For as far back as I can remember I wanted to be a doctor, specifically, an anesthesiologist. I represented my high school in science events across the mid-Atlantic and subsequently studied chemistry as an undergrad. After some reflection, I realized I wasn’t truly happy pursuing this course. I had fallen into the trap of pursuing something solely because I felt I was good at it. I was fortunate to have attended the University of Maryland, College Park, which has an excellent business school. So, I began testing out a few general business courses. I was impressed with the professors, the coursework, my peers, the intellectual stimulation, and the career opportunities offered. While I thought economics and finance were the most interesting of the tracks offered, I ultimately landed with an accounting degree following the 2008 financial crisis. As a practical person, I felt accounting provided me with the most career stability, which was a major factor when considering my student loans. Accounting was an enriching experience and I’m a better person for it, but when the chance came to jump into a finance role with Greenspring I took it and haven’t looked back!
Q. What career advice would you give to your younger self?
I would give my younger self so much advice, I don’t even know where to begin and end. First, I would tell myself to be patient. No matter how hard you work, achieving mastery takes repetition and a diversity of experience. The important thing is to take the time to learn fundamentals over the course of the early part of a career to create a solid foundation. Eventually, with enough experience and grit, you can amass a wide enough base of knowledge and experience to achieve the mastery you’re looking for. I would also tell myself to be prepared to take on any task, any role, any responsibility asked for by your senior team members. Sometimes the way to get ahead in an organization is to be a team player, to be known as the individual who pitches in and can be counted on in any situation. This is especially important in a small business environment where human capital is more limited. Doing this with a smile on your face to show that you’re happy to be a part of the day to day grind will pay dividends to your happiness and to the happiness of your peers.
Q. What’s on the top of your bucket list?
At the top of the bucket list for my husband and me is to become students of wine and wine making, which we expect will be a never-ending adventure. As part of this mission, we plan to take full advantage of the travel opportunity with stints in the top ten wine regions in France, Italy, Spain, United States, Argentina, Australia, Germany, South Africa, Chile, and Portugal. We’d love to do something special and unique in each country.
Q. Which books, articles, podcasts, and/or reports would you recommend for someone interested in learning more about the work that you do?
Greenspring sits in an interesting intersection in the venture ecosystem as we currently have $7.4B in AUM and invest across three distinct sectors – established and emerging VC fund managers, expansion stage venture backed companies, and secondary investments in VC funds and companies. We believe this approach provides us with a unique vantage point from which to comment on the venture market. It is our hope to use the blog posts we write to highlight interesting technology and venture trends with a perspective not found elsewhere. I encourage those interested to read the posts found on our website. Additionally, our blog links to dozens of posts published by the managers with which we invest across our platform. This compilation of pieces by the industry greats provides readers access to a wide variety of topics to learn about all aspects venture.
Q. What qualities do you appreciate in the people you’ve worked with?
I deeply appreciate my colleagues. They are hands down one of the major highlights of a career at Greenspring. The qualities I admire the most in my coworkers are an intellectual curiosity paired with a willingness to work hard to turn that curiosity into knowledge. I appreciate people who challenge me, who make me strive to be the best version of myself, and who I feel appreciate the same qualities. The people that you work with are part of what makes the difference between a job and a career. Ultimately, most of us will work every day between the time we are in our 20s until we retire in our 50s or 60s. When you’re not for a moment bored and learning day in and day out with colleagues you love and respect, it doesn’t feel like work.
Keep up with Brittany on LinkedIn!