In her role as Talent Director and a member of the OMERS Ventures Platform team, Jenny do Forno works closely with the senior leadership and operations teams of our portfolio companies to drive the talent and people strategies that support scale and growth.
Jenny brings over 20 years of experience creating talent strategies and programs that build award-winning cultures. The breadth of her experience covers both large enterprise organizations and startups — supporting throughout multiple funding rounds, debt financings, mergers and acquisitions, and beyond.
Welcome to the team, Jenny! Tell us a bit about yourself?
So happy to be part of the team! I was born and raised in Southwestern Ontario, and did my undergrad at Queen’s University in Kingston. I was on the law school path until I took a year off to work in executive search and became hooked on the possibilities of what the right talent and leadership can do to transform business and the world. I never did make it to law school. I now live in Toronto with my husband and two kids.
What does the role of a Talent Director look like?
As Talent Director, my focus is on supporting the 40+ OMERS Ventures portcos by adding value on all things people and talent — whether it is sharing best practices, connecting people, offering frameworks, or advice. I am also responsible for supporting the OMERS Ventures management and deal teams throughout our global growth.
You have a breadth of experience — both within startups, large enterprise orgs, and agencies — how do you think this will play into your current role?
I have had the privilege to work with some exceptional companies at varying stages of growth, within both consultant and in-house roles. I have worked with large 1,000+ headcount companies with international offices, and startups that literally started as an idea on a napkin in a coffee shop.
I have been through multiple funding rounds, mergers and acquisitions, office openings, closures, international expansion, have rolled back lines of business — I’ve seen it all. I have also had the opportunity to lead teams that have won multiple awards for culture and innovation.
I love the startup space, and having been part of a founding team, I have a lot of empathy for the journey of entrepreneurs and founders. I am hoping it is this mix of experience and empathy that will aid as I support our portfolio companies, understand their needs at various stages, and share some of the best practices, lessons and mistakes to avoid that I have learned along the way so they get a jump start.
Is there a book you would recommend for those in talent or HR roles looking to learn new tactics or ideas?
It’s not a talent or HR book per say, but I regularly find myself going back to a book called the “Messy Middle”. In the startup world, most of the discussion and excitement seems to happen around the launch or the exit of a company — not much attention is paid to the work that truly makes or breaks companies in that messy middle stage. There is a ton of helpful advice on how you can endure and optimize this phase of growth, and how you can improve how you hire, manage and leverage talent in your organization. If you want to understand how to help your business grow — it’s a great read.
Finish this sentence! The future will be…
Written by the bold and those who are brave enough to take a chance.