Christina Kim on Transitioning from Investment Banking to Venture Capital
Hello stupendous readers,
I am very pleased to bring you 3 quick takes on the IB/VC scene by Christina Kim today! Christina is an analyst at New Leaf Venture Partners, a leading venture capital fund that specializes in the healthcare/biotech industry. Prior to joining New Leaf, Christina worked for two years in the Global Healthcare Group of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Investment Banking Division. Christina received her dual degree B.A. in Economics and Government at Cornell University.
Could you describe your path into the healthcare VC industry given your Cornell degrees in Economics and Government?
At Cornell I studied Economics and Government with a minor in health policy, so I’ve always been interested in the healthcare space. One summer I had the opportunity to intern at Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s healthcare investment banking group, which really exposed me to the world of biotech. After the internship, I was given a return offer and accepted. I honestly think there are few other entry level positions that give you as much immediate experience, responsibility and transferrable skills as banking does. However, the experience is really what you make of it and you really have to be willing to work hard and take initiative to learn and develop relationships beyond the minimum in order to have a truly valuable experience. After a few years at Merrill, I decided it was time to apply those skills to a different angle of biotech, and was fortunate to get an offer from NLV in biotech venture capital.
How have your experiences as an investment banker prepared you in evaluating startups and markets as a VC analyst?
Like I mentioned, your banking experience will be what you make of it. The hard skills you learn, like modeling, financial analysis, Excel, etc., you will learn quickly with the reps, but if you go the extra mile it really makes a difference. My interest in healthcare, especially the biotech subsector, drove me to read up on companies and market reports in my free time, which also helped me to apply that knowledge in the projects I was working on. I would say the interpersonal and leadership/managerial skills you learn — how to manage up and also mentor junior analysts — is crucial as well. In addition, the network you build is definitely valuable. I still speak to my old colleagues, including MDs, VPs and analysts in my class, to this day if I have questions or just want to chat. One thing I learned is that it’s really a small world — I have come across my old colleagues a number of times on IPOs we’ve invested in, especially since the biotech IPO market was booming this year.
Given that venture capital is an industry dominated by males, could you speak to whether or not being an Asian female has impacted your experiences in the field, and if so, how?
Good question. This has been an ongoing topic of discussion in the public arena, not just in finance, but in biotech specifically as well. However, even in 2018 alone, there have been headlines of women in venture and biotech pioneering the field and innovations, and that’s been really encouraging and inspirational to see and follow. So there’s definitely been a gradual shift in the gender gap towards more women entering the field and succeeding. Even at New Leaf, a lot of the companies we meet with have a female CEO or CSO at the helm and in the C-suite. This also wasn’t an issue at BAML — half of my analyst class in the healthcare group at BAML were female, so that certainly didn’t detract from my experience there.
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