Educational background: Boston University, Biology
Current or most recent position: JPH Associates, Principal
I am currently an investor in more than 15 high-tech companies and serve on the boards of six organizations. I became a serial entrepreneur by observing models of how other people do startups and trying them myself. I did this over a number of years and in various roles. For example, after graduating from college, I was working as a consultant to food co-ops, which somehow led to managing a food warehouse. Eventually, I was running a $1.5 million cheese company. I did everything from serving samples and driving the truck, to managing distribution and organizing management training. I was already doing the work of managing and organizing, so becoming the head of a startup was a very natural progression for me.
After doing start-up work for a few years, I decided I wanted to obtain the educational framework for what I was doing. I felt particularly at home at MIT Sloan. My husband has three degrees from MIT, and we have lots of friends from there. I lived (and still do) in Watertown, so it was close by. I also had a strong math and science background, so MIT Sloan seemed like a good fit.
With the knowledge I gained at MIT Sloan and a few years working in other small business, I was able to take the lessons learned to a larger scale. I co-founded a AXON Networks, a developer of network management applications. Following 3Com’s acquisition of AXON, I was responsible for 3Com’s WAN strategy. I later founded Quarry Technologies with a core team from the BBN Technologies/GTE Internetworking SuperRouter project, serving as Quarry’s start-up CEO.
I loved being at MIT Sloan. It was a great deal of work, but it was also a great deal of fun. I loved learning things and hearing about new ideas. I think the academic requirement at that time was 14 courses, and I took 19. It was my biggest investment in myself. Nowhere could you find teams that worked at the level — and with the same focus and intensity — of those at MIT Sloan. Having the chance to do things so efficiently was a big treat, and something not easily duplicated in the real business world.
Over one Thanksgiving period, we had a flurry of team projects and turned out an enormous numbers of papers. All of it was great fun. One assignment was to analyze possible strategic alliances to fill out the product line of a large manufacturer. We paired two existing companies, a small and a larger one and recommended the larger company acquire the smaller one. Two years after graduating, we learned the small company grew faster than anyone had anticipated and actually acquired the larger one! We had the right fit, just the wrong order!
I think MIT Sloan was ahead of its time in teaching us teamwork and analytic ways of thinking about problems. I left with a great set of capabilities. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the School’s flexibility also enabled me to put together a self-designed course on entrepreneurship with a primary focus on marketing and strategy. Now, MIT Sloan has the continuing opportunity to be a catalyst for informing everyone that high tech startups spring from technological innovations. MIT Sloan is producing the business and technology leaders of tomorrow.