Celebrating Pride: Q&A with Managing Partner Harry Briggs

OMERS Ventures
Jun 24 · 4 min read
Harry Briggs (left) at Pride & Prejudice with friend & fellow speaker Eric Collins

Three months ago, it was announced that you had recently joined OMERS Ventures to lead the expansion into Europe. Can you share more on how things are going so far?

We’ve barely drawn breath (is it June already?!), but honestly I couldn’t be happier. The European tech ecosystem is booming right now, and we’re seeing more great investment opportunities than I’ve ever seen in my 10 years as a VC. It’s also super-competitive of course, but founders are embracing OMERS Ventures and the broader OMERS even more warmly than I could have hoped. And the support we’ve received — both from our Ventures colleagues across the pond, and from the rest of OMERS — has been incredible.

In addition to being an established leader in the Ventures space, you’re also passionate about inclusion and diversity. What are some of the things you’re involved in outside of OMERS?

One of the things that first struck me when I left my startup and moved into the Venture world 10 years ago was the shocking lack of diversity. Our investment meetings were 10 male investors casting judgment on a revolving door of all-male founding teams. The Alpha-male environment made me, for the first time in several years, feel deeply awkward about my sexuality — I heard just enough inappropriate banter around the office in those first few days that I worried that if I “came out” to my new colleagues, I wouldn’t “fit in” and it might affect my prospects. It’s easy to forget, with hindsight, the sleepless nights worrying about what my new bosses knew and what they might think… [I wrote more about this Here]

Harry Briggs speaking on diversity issues on Sky News

Inclusion and diversity initiatives, programs, and impact within the workplace has come a long way in the last decade (…with obviously a long way to go). How have you noticed that change on a personal level?

When I was last in a large organization — at McKinsey nearly 2 decades ago — I wasn’t aware of any Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, although I did choose McKinsey partly because it felt like a place where you weren’t pressured to conform to a “type”. But I don’t think it’s entirely a coincidence that I didn’t “come out” myself until I was running my own business a couple of years later.

Do you have any advice you’d like to give your 21-year-old self?

1. Read The Velvet Rage by Alan Downs (it wasn’t written back then!). I read it recently, and it captures really vividly the common neuroses and challenges of men who grow up gay.

OMERS Ventures

OMERS Ventures is the venture capital investment arm of OMERS, one of Canada's largest pension funds with over $95 billion in net assets. OMERS Ventures is a multi-stage investor in growth-oriented, disruptive technology companies across North America.

OMERS Ventures

Written by

OMERS Ventures is a multi-stage VC investor in growth-oriented, disruptive tech companies across North America.

OMERS Ventures

OMERS Ventures is the venture capital investment arm of OMERS, one of Canada's largest pension funds with over $95 billion in net assets. OMERS Ventures is a multi-stage investor in growth-oriented, disruptive technology companies across North America.