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Celebrating Pride Month at Insight

Insight Partners | June 28, 2024| 4 min. read

The month of June is dedicated to commemorating the Stonewall Uprising of 1969, as well as the liberation and celebration of those who identify as LGBTQIA+. In observance and commemoration of Pride, we spoke to members of OUTsight, Insight’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) for LGBTQ+ employees and allies about their successes, impactful mentorships, and more.

What do you do at Insight?

Amy ChenI am a senior associate at Insight Partners and sit on our Diligence and Growth Strategy team. My time is split between evaluating investment opportunities and supporting our existing founders and management teams with their growth journey. I also work on our 20/20 Vision Capital Fund, Insight’s fund of funds vehicle investing into underrepresented emerging managers, including sourcing, diligence, and portfolio support.

Will Kenney: I’m an investor and focus on early growth deals, typically Series A-C. I spend much of my time in developer tooling or ‘software for hardware’ — tools that support manufacturing, aerospace & defense, and other hardware-intensive industries.

Maya Frid: I’m an analyst on the Capital Partnerships team. I support our team’s fundraising efforts by handling the scheduling and logistics for all of our LP diligence sessions, both virtual and in-person, as well as logistics for many of our LP-facing events, such as the AGM.  I really enjoy this role because it gives me the chance to meet and interact with many different members of our firm across all levels.

Amir Ravandoust: I am a member of the scaled buyout team, focused on diligence, acquisition, and transformation of our large-scale investments. I also occasionally step into our portfolio companies in interim operating roles such as CFO and COO, to accelerate the upfront transformation of the business and set the management team up for growth and success.

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

Amy Chen: To be bold, take chances, and contribute even when you’re not certain. I would tell my younger self that sharing your opinion and thought process is often more valuable than simply being right. Early in your career, it can feel daunting to get “the wrong answer,” especially after being grade-focused before entering the workforce.

However, I believe this is the perfect time to embrace opportunities, learn from mistakes, and ultimately learn from peers. Particularly in an industry as multifaceted as VC and PE, having a diverse range of voices and opinions can provide our teams with an edge in investment and strategic decisions.

Will Kenney: A VC mentor told me early in my career that I needed to be less afraid to close doors. I’m a naturally curious person, and I wanted to try everything — I’ve worked in philanthropy, consulting, investing, and at startups. However, being afraid to close doors — to narrow my focus — was preventing me from going deep on any one passion or industry that I could become an expert on.

There’s always time to go back and open a door another time, but giving myself the freedom to go all-in on one endeavor (and not fear the opportunity cost) has allowed me to embark on a more intentional and informed career path.

Maya Frid: One thing I wish I realized earlier in my career was the importance of being proactive. I used to think that keeping my head down and working hard would be enough for me to get noticed and grow in my roles, but now I know that nobody is going to pluck you out of obscurity and put the opportunity in your hand. You have to take the initiative and be vocal about what you want. You can’t be afraid of hearing the word “no” — if you won’t ask for it, you won’t get it.

Amir Ravandoust: Asking for help earlier and more frequently. I used to think that I had to figure everything out myself. I became much more productive and effective the moment I normalized asking for help and advice from others.

Talk about a significant mentorship moment or influence in your life

Amy Chen: I’ve been incredibly fortunate to encounter many mentors and sponsors throughout my career. This thread of sponsorship continues in my current role, where I work alongside fantastic people who advocate for me and challenge me. Most recently, a close sponsor encouraged me and provided the opportunity to take on a stretch role. Their full confidence in me reinforced my trust in my own judgment and ability, pushing me into new leadership capacities.

Reflecting on Pride Month, and as someone who has now found their footing in the corporate world, I believe it is essential to pay forward the guidance I received and keep the door open for others coming after me. Mentorship and coaching are elements of my role at Insight that most energize me. It is very rewarding to build relationships with our incoming analysts and associates, helping to amplify their voices, just as my sponsors have done for me.

Will Kenney: While it may be atypical for young kids to have a family ritual of watching 60 Minutes every Sunday, my parents wanted to ensure I developed a global perspective at a young age. As I grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, I felt exposed to a wide range of issues and the trends that drove them due to the incredible effort my mother and father put into my early education.

This is particularly true of my interest in technology, as the Internet transformed society in the late ’90s and early ’00s. My parents wholeheartedly supported my love for all things tech (including me yelling “dot com” while still in diapers). It’s because of their support that I was able to eventually study computer science and come join Insight’s investment team. They will always be my most important mentors.

Maya Frid: One person who had a huge influence on me was a female partner at the law firm where I worked right out of college. I’m a first-generation immigrant to the U.S. and neither of my parents work in a corporate environment, so as a recent college grad, her guidance was extremely helpful to me in learning how to navigate the corporate sphere. She gave me advice on everything from dress code to the nuances of interpersonal relations, and she never made me feel silly for asking questions.

One particular piece of advice that stayed with me was the benefit of building relationships and surrounding yourself with a network of supportive people who are willing to give honest feedback to help you grow. That same network empowered me to make the change from working in the legal industry to finance, which brought me to Insight.

Amir Ravandoust: While working closely with a company to transform its sales strategy, I was facing a lot of push-back from the middle management layer who did not want to disrupt the momentum of the business. The CEO, who was also a mentor of mine, told me to spend more time with the sales team in the field, meet customers and partners, and sit through product demos to better understand the business and gain more credibility with the team.

In addition to making the project successful, my mentor’s advice has become a critical part of how I do my job: I embed myself within teams to better understand their concerns and perspectives and improve the way I support and advise them.