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April 1, 2022

Women’s History Month: Celebrating the Women of ICONIQ

ICONIQ is built on the mindset that technology matters, strategy matters, but people matter most. However, today the accomplishments of women throughout history continue to be overlooked, diminished, or willfully ignored. That’s why Women’s History Month remains a necessary reminder of the enormous contributions of women, and the inequality they still face. The world is changing though. And at ICONIQ, we are fortunate to be surrounded by remarkable women on our team and in our community who are leading the way.

Nearly half of ICONIQ’s global team is women, with dozens in leadership roles.

ICONIQ Women—an energized employee engagement group

ICONIQ Women, one of our inspiring employee engagement groups, is dedicated to helping prepare women to succeed in leadership at the firm. From guided discussions to provocative panels, internal spotlights, and book clubs, we foster community among ICONIQ women and allies while building awareness across the firm to support women in the workplace. For example, our ICONIQ Women Fellowship Program is a peer mentoring initiative that facilitates connections between team members and provides development resources on topics including work-life balance, forming strong relationships, building leadership presence, teamwork, and more. Meanwhile, on “Flaunt It Fridays,” we invite our women employees to share on the firm’s Slack an accomplishment or something they are proud of about themselves or others in an effort to help close the “self-promotion” gap between men and women.

ICONIQ Impact—a global platform for collaborative philanthropy

In 2019, ICONIQ created ICONIQ Impact, our global platform for collaborative philanthropy which harnesses our passionate community of founders, strategic partners and organizations to achieve an outsized, measurable impact on the world’s most pressing problems. A core pillar of our work is investing in women leaders and causes that advance gender equity. That’s why this International Women’s Day, we launched the Maternal & Infant Health Award—a $10M grant competition to help improve maternal and infant health outcomes across the globe. The award comes only months after the launch of the Climate Equity Co-Lab—a $50M philanthropic fund supporting organizations at the intersection of climate change, gender equity, and poverty. Through ICONIQ Impact’s awards, Co-Labs, and more, we’re helping empower women across the world while supporting exceptional female leaders who are focused on making the future better for everyone.

Tarcila Rivera Zea is president of CHIRAPAQ, a Peruvian organization arming indigenous peoples with the knowledge and resources to defend their lands and ancestral cultures. CHIRAPAQ is one of the thirteen organizations supported by ICONIQ Impact’s Climate Equity Co-Lab, and Tarcila is considered one of the most recognized indigenous activists in the world. She has fought for indigenous peoples’ rights (particularly women’s rights) for more than 40 years, receiving multiple awards from institutions such as UNICEF, the Ford Foundation, and Peru’s Ministry of Culture. As a testament to her leadership in the space, she was elected in 2017 to the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to provide expert advice on helping indigenous people globally.

Nika Soon-Shiong, is Founder and Executive Director of the Fund For Guaranteed Income, and director of its flagship Compton Pledge program—the largest city-based guaranteed income pilot in the United States. Nika’s work combines local activism with international development expertise to re-imagine the social safety net. She served over four years at the World Bank Group, where she developed the institution’s approach to disruptive technologies, cross-border IDs, and social insurance platforms for informal sector workers. Nika is currently a PhD candidate at Oxford University’s Department of International Development, where her research investigates unconditional cash programs and citizenship in India.

Ruthe Farmer, is Founder and CEO of Last Mile Education Fund, which provides just-in-time financial support to striving low-income women within four semesters of graduation in a computing field. Ruthe has a history of successfully scaling up innovative STEM programs, from serving as chief strategy and growth officer at the National Center for Women & Information Technology to standing up a national Lego Robotics program at Girl Scouts. Laser-focused on inclusion, Ruthe previously served as senior policy advisor for tech inclusion in the Obama White House and has received numerous awards for social impact.

ICONIQ Growth—partnering with exceptional entrepreneurs who drive global impact and change

ICONIQ Growth invests in private technology companies seeking to transform the future for the better. We are inspired by visionaries who we believe are forging a large market opportunity, maniacally focused on their customers’ success, and thoughtfully building enduring company cultures. We’re proud to partner with numerous women founders and CEOs, and are thrilled to have welcomed these exceptional individuals and their companies to the ICONIQ Growth portfolio in 2021:

IPI Partners—building the essential infrastructure of the data economy

IPI Partners, a joint venture of ICONIQ Capital and an affiliate of Iron Point Partners, holds one of the world’s largest private digital infrastructure portfolios focused on the hyperscale and enterprise markets. Last year, in partnership with IPI’s portfolio company STACK Infrastructure, we launched the Women’s Leadership Network to connect, equip, and encourage the women across the IPI family of companies, including our co-sponsors and portfolio investments. The goal is to create an energized community that will foster professional development and mentorship for women while providing access to educational and social events that enhance leadership skills for careers across the real estate and digital infrastructure sectors.

As part of this initiative, IPI and STACK will hold an inaugural Women’s Leadership Summit this May in Denver, Colorado. This milestone event will bring together more than 50 women from IPI, ICONIQ Real Estate, Iron Point Partners, STACK Infrastructure, and Sentral—our market-leading proptech platform—to dive into real estate sector trends, leadership, diversity and inclusion, and mental health and wellness.

 

Finally, a few words from some of the women of ICONIQ who are helping us all #breakthebias:

Advice to our younger selves:

“I would tell my younger self not to try and do it all on her own, and to seek out champions early and often. As a leader, it’s so important to find and nurture champions at all levels. When the outcome you want to achieve is complex and seemingly impossible, I’ve found you need three things: an almost irrational belief that the outcome you desire is certain to occur, a clear vision of that outcome you can articulate to others in a simple way, and people who come to believe in it as much as you do.” — Matti Navellou, head of ICONIQ Impact

“You must be able to change your mind. Growing up, my parents—both lawyers—would bring home court cases to discuss over family dinner. After hearing all the facts, asking clarifying questions, and presenting our arguments, we were peppered with counter-arguments and new variables being added to the case. As a stubborn teenager, I was annoyed by this game. But now, every time I form an opinion about something, I find myself thinking, what information could I learn that would change my mind?”— Claire Davis, associate

“One insight shared with me very early on in my career was that everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time. This was powerful to me in that it took gender out of the equation and allowed me to find my voice in a predominantly male driven industry. It especially inspires me today, as I see our team at ICONIQ engaging with and respecting the voice of women leaders at all levels in the organization.” — Roudi Pezeshkian, head of Human Capital

“Always find ways to learn new things in your career. The moment you stop learning is when you know a change needs to be made.” — Lydia Lambert, program manager

“Take all the chances. Pull on the strings and see what’s there! Then trust your intuition and engage with the magic of life.”— Sneha Rana, VP

“Growing up, whenever my dad dropped me off at school, the last thing he always said was ‘Do your best. Be a leader.’ That has stuck with me since and served as a helpful reminder both personally and professionally.” — Sarah Stebbins, associate

“Recognize that you can learn something from everyone you work with, regardless of seniority, title and walk of life. As women in finance, we often feel that we need to have the answers to earn the right to be in the [proverbial board] room. However, I have come to realize that having the courage to seek to understand, to learn something new is a strength. Curiosity allows you to understand different motivations and perspectives to enable you to come up with the most creative solutions or paths ahead. It also enables you to build deeper and trusted relationships with those around you.” — Yidrienne Lai, general partner

Our role models:

“My best friends from growing up are still my role models. We celebrate and encourage each other’s successes. It’s uplifting and motivating to see people around you do well.” — Kelly Myrseth, VP

“My mom is my greatest role model! She is incredibly resilient and has never held herself back from pursuing new career opportunities based on her personal interests. Over the last few years, she has been working to build her own business based on a creative passion which has been so inspiring to watch come to life.” — Olivia Saalsaa, associate

“My grandmother is my role model for her unwavering strength, warmth, and kindness. I fondly look back on the time we spent together with all of the teachable life moments she instilled in me.” — Enlin Chua, senior associate

How we can break the bias:

“Create opportunities for more voices to be heard. Perhaps it is inviting quieter individuals to share their views in a meeting, being inclusive in who you are asking for input on a project, or actively elevating more junior people on your team.” — Sruthi Ramaswami, principal

“In order to understand that biases exist, there needs to be transparency in the workplace. The more transparency we have, the more we’ll understand where potential discrepancies lie and how to correct or mitigate them.” — Sara Ghent, senior analyst

“We need diverse opinions in ‘the room where it happens.’ There have been multiple studies that show that firms with gender and cultural diversity on leadership teams are more successful than those with homogeneous leadership. Diversity in opinions enhances the conversation and expands the range of possible outcomes, leading to more innovative solutions. There isn’t a tradeoff with diversity – it’s additive.” — Sarah Coyne, senior vice president

“I find it especially impactful when male friends and colleagues join in to try to empathize and understand the movement.” — Jennifer Hong, Salesforce administrator

 

Note – Team composition data as of 12/31/21. Growth statistics as of 3/3/22. Number of investments and capital deployed reflect all closed transactions of the ICONIQ Growth funds in 2021.