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Diversity & Inclusion

Nasdaq Women in Technology: Shruti Tournatory, Partner and Head of Business Development at Sapphire Ventures

@Nasdaq sat down with Shruti Tournatory, Partner and Head of Business Development at Sapphire Venture, to talk about her experience as a leading woman in tech as part of Women's History Month at Nasdaq

Shruti Tournatory Tower Shot

As a Partner and Head of Business Development at Sapphire Ventures, a VC firm with over $8.8 billion in assets under management (AUM), Shruti leads the business development and go-to-market team globally with a focus on revenue acceleration for Sapphire’s portfolio companies. Her team is responsible for growing Sapphire’s enterprise CIO and CXO network, connecting portfolio companies with Global 2000 customers and partners and aiding in developing successful go-to-market strategies. Under Shruti’s leadership, Sapphire has also developed unique forums and assets such as Sapphire’s annual CIO Summit and CIO Innovation Index.

Previously, Shruti led product leadership and strategy roles at SAP and IDC. Shruti has an MBA from U.C. Berkeley and a bachelor’s in International Relations from Wellesley College. She has lived and worked in the U.S., Germany and the United Kingdom.

Please talk to us about your role at Sapphire Ventures. What are your top goals in this role for this year?

At Sapphire our mission is to back companies of consequence, primarily Series B through pre-IPO enterprise software as a service (SaaS) startups. I’ve had the privilege of leading the business development team that supports our portfolio companies with revenue acceleration initiatives. These initiatives run the gamut from brokering customer and partner introductions to providing playbooks on how companies can scale their operations internationally.

As I look to the remainder of 2022, this is a vital year for our companies as industries re-normalize business operations amid a still very dynamic global environment. Making sure our fast-growing companies have the best commercial networks, playbooks and advisory support to expand markets steadily, and navigate uncertainty, is a key priority. Furthermore, as venture capital continues to undergo significant shifts, I’m also committed to helping differentiate Sapphire in a crowded market as a value-added VC firm with an emphasis on go-to-market success.

What is unique about being a woman in tech at Sapphire Ventures?

Sapphire is a truly diverse venture capital firm, with roughly half of our workforce being female. We have 7 female Partners, a female COO, CMO, CFO and so on. Therefore, I’m glad to say I am not unique at Sapphire simply because I’m a woman!

Having said that, I did launch my career in venture capital the same year I had my first child, and there weren’t very many new mothers around in the early years. Simultaneously navigating those two very rewarding but very different rollercoaster rides—between motherhood and a VC operational career path—came with its own set of lessons and challenges. 

Personally, the ingredients that helped me power through these two intense journeys were Sapphire’s supportive culture and my passion for startups and venture capital. 

If you’re excited by what you’re doing and are on a rewarding learning journey, the challenges will fade into the background. As VC has gradually become more diverse, it is refreshing to come across more women progressing through careers in venture capital while balancing the demands of young families.

What are some challenges you’ve had to overcome as a woman in tech throughout your career?

Much has been written about impostor syndrome, and it is very real, especially for women in a male-dominated field like tech. When you’re surrounded by peers and leaders who mostly don’t look or sound like you, that syndrome is much more likely to take hold and directly impact your confidence, and your willingness to take risks and make mistakes.  

For me, this was a challenge in my early years. I felt that I had to be exemplary in any new project I took on, which sometimes inhibited me from taking risks for fear that I couldn’t achieve total excellence and perfection right off the bat. So, I’d say the biggest muscle I’ve had to develop as a woman in tech is a dogged resistance to self-doubt. It takes practice!

From your experience, what can tech do to better uplift women in the industry?

One of the biggest roles that managers and leaders can play, beyond inclusion and recognition, is encouraging women to undertake risks, and to create a safe zone for making mistakes. Risk-taking has a strong correlation to personal growth and career advancement in tech, and this is where companies and managers can push harder to ensure that risky endeavors are evenly distributed amongst genders. Tech as an industry undergoes very rapid cycles of innovation, which creates rich opportunities for companies, people and teams to take risks.  I’d love for more companies to create programs and environments that put women at the center of bold venturing, whether it is at a VC, tech giant or scrappy startup. 

What is your advice for women looking to pursue a career in tech and business?

Find the niche that you’re passionate about and spend time identifying your superpowers. Do this as early in your journey as you can. Then, double down on those superpowers and make them known as you chart your course and build a name for yourself.  Explore different career moves and job changes in the early years, try on multiple hats, and seek out feedback from leaders and peers you respect to constantly improve and eliminate blind spots.  

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