Welcome to the AirTree Fam: Meet Our Operating Partner Gill Findlay

AirTree
AirTree
Apr 12 · 5 min read
Gill at our new office in Surry Hills 💕

🥁🥁🥁 We’re super excited to introduce to everyone the newest member of the AirTree team — Gill Findlay.

Gill Findlay has joined us as our first Operating Partner. AirTree’s portfolio companies will have access to her unique and varied experience — from professional services, listed corporates, government and scaling successful startups.

Gill was Chief Operating Officer of Australian SaaS startup, SafetyCulture, from 2015 to 2019, joining as employee number 25 and playing a key role in it achieving unicorn status in 2020. During her tenure, she was responsible for global sales, customer success, customer experience, growth, finance, people operations. She scaled the team to over 300 and grew revenue x30.

Most recently, Gill has been the CEO of marketing technology company Vamp, where she has worked with the two founders to raise equity and transform the company from a services-led to a technology-led business, delivering profitable growth. The Vamp platform was launched a year ago and has seen rapid QoQ growth.

The Operating Partner role is a relatively new concept in Australian venture capital. We believe it will be an increasingly important part of our offering to both current and potential portfolio companies. While we have always added operational value to our portfolio companies, we will now have an experienced operator with a track record of scaling startups, dedicated to delivering. Gill will be responsible for ensuring that the power of the AirTree family is brought to bear to benefit all of the founders and teams we’ve backed. Her focus will be on helping startups to reach their growth goals faster, whether supporting founders through decisions or making connections that help to get things done.

Gill’s appointment further evidences our commitment to providing founders with resources and insights generated from real-world experience. Gill will be contributing to AirTree’s growing library of open-sourced VC resources and to its leadership forums.

Gill’s role working with AirTree’s portfolio companies plays well into her passion for leadership and for executing on ambitious ideas.

“My greatest career highlights have all been seeing teams of people come together to deliver extraordinary results. I have been able to play a role in leading these teams, and now I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned with the founders and leaders in the AirTree family,” Gill said. “How I might be able to help will be different for every business, it could be in connecting them to new talent, setting up the right operating rhythms or metrics, or just someone who they can talk through a tough decision with.”

“It is one thing to talk about adding value to founders and another to lean in with relevant experience and work with them. Gill is that rare breed of deeply thoughtful, operationally experienced and keen to get into the weeds. We are very fortunate to have someone like Gill at AirTree and we know she will add value to all of our portfolio companies and founders”.

Daniel Petre, Co-Founder & Chairman at AirTree Ventures.

What is Gill most proud of from her time working in the Australian startup scene? There’s no hesitation on this one: “the people”, she says, “seeing people I have worked with grow and have great success, both working with me and then beyond that. People like Kate Pullinger, Brian Swift and Shirley Anderson from SafetyCulture who have gone on to great things with other startups. Every successful tech company is really an outstanding people company at its core. The company’s ability to find, grow and challenge the people is what leads to sustained success. This has been a common focus and priority in all my roles in leading tech.”

Given Gill’s focus on people, we thought we’d ask a few of the people from her career journey to give us a little more insight into our new colleague.

“Gill is equipped with a huge amount of tenacity, commercial acumen, and drive, which combines to inspire all those around her, especially scale ups that are handling high levels of inherent uncertainty. It’s nice to work with someone that’s actually done it, and not just read the book.“

Dom Price, worked with Gill at Deloitte and Aristocrat, now Work Futurist at Atlassian.

“I was Gill’s first hire at SafetyCulture. Over four years we scaled customer success, customer experience and sales around four regions globally and this was critical in SafetyCulture’s amazing growth. Gill still inspires and motivates me everyday. She is an incredible leader who gives everyone the opportunity and freedom to be the best version of themselves at work.”

Shirley Anderson, set up customer success at SafetyCulture with Gill, now leading customer success at Hatch.

“Gill and I worked closely together to scale the product and go-to-market functions at SafetyCulture. She was an amazing partner to me in setting strategy, aligning teams to company goals and dealing with daily challenges of quickly scaling a business. I still go to Gill for advice whenever I’m dealing with a tough problem.”

Brian Swift, worked with Gill at SafetyCulture, now Head of Product at Dovetail.

“I joined SafetyCulture straight from corporate law. Gill helped me adjust quickly and her mentorship allowed me to see the potential for me to move from a strictly legal role into a broader commercial role, something I have now achieved.”

Kate Pullinger, worked with Gill at SafetyCulture, now Chief of Staff at Secure Code Warrior, an AirTree portfolio company.

“While we are sad to see Gill leaving us as CEO, we’re excited to watch her take on this new opportunity at AirTree — and delighted she will be staying with us as a board member. Gill came into Vamp, raised funds quickly with top tier investors and strengthened our cap table. She is leaving Vamp in great shape. Revenues have doubled, we are profitable, cashflow positive, there is cash in the bank and Vamp is ready to embark on an exciting new stage of growth. The AirTree portfolio companies are lucky to have her on board.”

Ben McGrath and Aaron Brooks co-founders of Vamp.

Gill began with AirTree in late February 2021, while transitioning from her CEO responsibilities at Vamp. She is working with the Boards and teams at Brighte, GlamCorner, Brosa, Secure Code Warrior and Employment Hero, and is looking forward to engaging with the rest of the diverse and exciting AirTree portfolio.

We asked Gill one final question, that we ask all our new hires:

What’s a quote you live by?

“Life’s too short to drink bad wine” — Unknown wise person.

___

Say hi to Gill on gill[at]airtree.vc or connect with her on Linkedin.

Read more about Gill’s appointment in the AFR

AirTree

A venture capital fund in Aus and NZ.

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