If you told me five years ago that I would be an operating partner at a venture capital firm in Columbus, Ohio, I wouldn’t have believed you.
I was working in London for TPG-Axon, a hedge fund tied to the $50B private equity shop. It took me a long time to get from a humble upbringing in Belgium to what I thought was my dream job in my dream city.
In December 2012, my life took an unexpected turn. My fiancé asked me to move to Columbus for his job. I was stunned…I didn’t even know where to find the city (ok, maybe even Ohio) on the map. But he convinced me to check it out.
What I found wasn’t the rust belt I expected but a vibrant city, bustling with people and industry. By the end of our two-day reconnaissance mission, we put an offer on a house. Three months later we landed back in Ohio with my green card, a home office and a puppy.
Three years into our move, my husband’s business was thriving yet I was on a plane to New York or London every week. The travel and time apart was tough, but frankly, the paycheck was pretty good.
Serendipity showed up in the spring of 2015 when I met Chris and Mark through a mutual acquaintance. I was super eager to learn more about why these two Sequoia partners decided to leave CA to form Drive Capital. I did my homework. I met some of their entrepreneurs, I spoke with one of their investors, and I quickly realized that what they were building would reshape the region. It would have been easy to stay on my rabbit wheel, but these guys seemed to be onto something and were encouraging me to take a risk.
My mother is a major influence in my life. She worked two jobs in Belgium when I was really young. She taught herself English and put herself through business school. After starting a business in the early 90s that failed, she joined a supply chain management company that soared. Ten years later, she was on the cover of the Wall Street Journal. Her ambition encouraged mine. She always told me not to dream of success but to work for it and to take advantage of opportunities when they appear.
The more I learned, the more I believed Drive Capital could be the opportunity of my lifetime. If we were right and I worked my tail off, we could have a major impact and have a lot of fun doing it. After all, my mom worked too hard for me not to pursue something great. I am sure that, one day, my daughters will agree.