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Inside Insight

Celebrating Black History Month at Insight

Insight Partners | March 01, 2024| 3 min. read

The month of February is dedicated to celebrating and paying tribute to generations of African Americans throughout the United States’ history. In observance and commemoration of Black History Month, we spoke to members of Insight Partners Employee Resource Group (ERG) for Black employees about their successes, impactful mentorships, and more.

What do you do at Insight?

Nonso Ogbonna: I lead the Business Solutions Engineering team at Insight Partners, made up of product managers, software and data engineers, and solutions architects. We are responsible for delivering scalable enterprise solutions that empower different business teams at Insight to efficiently run, scale, and innovate their functions. Our solutions span the investment, portfolio management, portfolio value creation, investor relations, and firmwide operations business functions.

Samer Yousif: I’m a Senior Associate at Insight Partners, where I co-lead the 20/20 Vision Capital Fund, Insight’s fund of funds strategy investing into underrepresented, emerging managers. We are currently investing from 20/20 Vision Capital Fund II, a $118M vehicle. I oversee several aspects of the 20/20 Vision Capital Fund, including sourcing, diligence, and portfolio management. I work closely with our Sourcing and DGS team members to identify and back the best-emerging managers in venture capital.

Ashley Motichka-Cabrera: I am an Executive Assistant in the Marketing Center of Excellence. I assist my executive team in various ways, such as scheduling meetings and coordinating travel arrangements. However, my primary responsibility is to manage their calendars. I try to be the fierce protector of their time so they can perform and lead efficiently and be the best advisors to our portfolio companies.

Chuma Azinge: Currently, I’m an analyst on our Diligence and Growth Strategy team. In the role, I get to spend my time on deal teams evaluating new investment opportunities, and also completing projects in support of our portfolio companies as they scale.

What is one thing you wish you had known when you began your career?

Nonso Ogbonna: When I began my career, I wish I had known the power of storytelling and how to use the art to actively promote my work. Staying heads down and merely focusing on doing a great job isn’t sufficient to advance your career, as your work may not always speak for itself.

You should continuously sell your ideas, validate them with users and stakeholders, and craft compelling narratives about the value you are creating. However, it’s important to strike the right balance while doing this so that it feels authentic and not forced.

Samer Yousif: I took a pretty circuitous route to my current role. After receiving my Masters in Global Policy Studies, I thought that my career would largely focus on politics and policy-making, primarily because I wasn’t aware of other opportunities that married my focus on entrepreneurship and racial equity. I’d push my younger self to focus more on the impact that I wanted to have, rather than a specific role, and then identify opportunities that would let me reach that goal.

I also wish I’d understood how non-linear careers are and that I didn’t have to have a long-term career strategy to be successful. I just needed to focus on making the right next step in my career and eventually, I’d end up where I wanted to be. 

Ashley Motichka-Cabrera: The importance of having a mentor early on. As a student pursuing my degree in marketing, I also worked in my first assistant role at a pharmaceutical company, where I had the opportunity to observe many women in leadership positions. I was fascinated by how they expertly managed their relationships with colleagues and clients. 

Looking back, I wish I had sought out mentorship from some of the women I admired early on rather than just observing them and learning from a distance. I was too nervous to ask for a mentor at the beginning of my career, but later, realized how empowering and meaningful such relationships can be.

Talk about a significant mentorship moment or influence in your life

Nonso Ogbonna: In my professional life, I’ve been lucky to have not just mentors, but two notable sponsors who believed in me and helped me succeed at different stages. Very early in my career at Goldman Sachs, I was fortunate to have worked under the leadership of Bob Naccarella. During a period of uncertainty regarding my path forward, he gave me an opportunity to switch to a tech strategy and consulting role in his organization, which paved the way for what would become an accelerated career trajectory.

I was also fortunate to have met Lisa Opoku mid-way through my career. She gave me numerous opportunities to learn, to showcase my talent, to create value, and to be recognized within the Engineering organization. I am forever grateful to Bob and Lisa for their guidance, support, and advocacy, and I am committed to paying it forward in any way that I can.

Samer Yousif: I’ve been blessed with incredible mentors and sponsors throughout my career. I absolutely wouldn’t be here without them taking me under their wing and supporting me throughout my career. A mentor of mine, who has become a close friend, was one of the first to vouch for me, adding me to projects and initiatives that would help me learn and network early on in my career.

They spoke highly of me to their peers, which gave me legitimacy and credibility, likely before I fully deserved it. And they believed in me, encouraging me to stretch and grow further than I thought I could. That support was and continues to be invaluable to me in my career, and I hope to have a similar impact on those coming after me as well.

Ashley Motichka-Cabrera: My Mom. She is a true inspiration to me and has had a significant impact on shaping who I am today. She has always encouraged me to follow my instincts and believe in myself. I have always admired her strong work ethic and ability to balance motherhood with her career. She has excelled at work, yet I never felt that she wasn’t present while I was growing up. Being a working mother presents a unique set of challenges, and now that I am also one, I appreciate her and her sacrifices that much more.

Chuma Azinge: Jessica Parry, a principal at Blackstone and fellow Georgetown alum, was a mentor who had an outsized impact on my career pursuits. With no prior exposure/connection to the finance industry I was advised to send cold emails in pursuit of a short conversation, and she was the first to respond! A 15-minute chat with Jess turned into an hour, and led to many other interactions where she helped me understand the ecosystem of opportunities within the industry, build connections, and navigate career opportunities as they arose.