‘I look up to the Nordics for the women-friendly labour laws and overall work attitude, we should learn more from them.’
Interview with King’s Business School Alumna Elisa Russo
In honour of International Women’s Day 2018 we are sharing quotes, interviews and articles from King’s Business School alumni, academics and students, to celebrate women in business and open conversation to discuss some of the challenges women face today. We recently interviewed Elisa Russo, King’s Business School Alumna and senior associate working in Venture Capital and the tech industry. We talked to Russo about why she loves her work, the challenges and how the tech industry could be more inclusive for women. Elisa studied Business Management at King’s Business School and graduated in 2011.
Could you tell us about your time studying at King’s and how that led to where you are now in your career?
I have great memories of being an undergrad at King’s - from classes to discovering London and understanding what the 2008 financial crisis was as it happened, I was immersed in the capital of finance from the first year! The strong accounting and finance classes helped to get internships from the first year.
What have been your biggest achievements in business so far?
Breaking into finance in 2010 wasn’t easy. And then moving into tech with no engineering background, to now being seen as a guide and an investor by start-ups. I have to admit I was very lucky and had great mentors!
What do you love most about your current job?
Being in VC, I love working side by side with incredible entrepreneurs and GMs who trust me to help them scale their businesses. The tech world is constantly changing, every day is a new challenge and learning opportunity... almost like being back at Uni!
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The same as what I love about it!
The finance and tech industry is often perceived as being predominantly male. Do you think this is true and how has it become more inclusive since you entered the workforce?
In VC we sit at the intersection of finance and tech - so the low female percentage is even more obvious! There clearly are some good initiatives around but there is still a long way to go. I’m very optimistic about this though and I have been lucky enough to work with firms who encouraged strong ambitious women.
How can the industry initiate change for women in tech?
There are several initiatives ongoing, which are breaking ground and are crucial as the ratio of women at all levels is still very low. For instance, there are few women in senior investment and leadership positions. This won’t be fixed by just feeding more women into the system, as bottlenecks remain obvious and will call for wider initiatives. I look up to the Nordics for the women-friendly labour laws and overall work attitude, we should learn more from them.
Why is an inclusive and diverse workplace so important for the tech industry?
A diverse industry and work environment leads to fewer biases, higher productivity and more creativity - the research speaks for itself! On top of that, a forward-thinking space like tech just can’t afford to miss out on big pockets of talent, just because they aren’t immediately obvious.
Why is International Women’s Day important to you?
Women are still considered a “minority” when they make up over 50 per cent of the world’s population. Initiatives like this are important to raise awareness, encourage and inspire other women and men. For example, many women in my generation still grew up with few female role models: this is a great occasion to hear real stories, with the good and bad, and feel empowered.