You may recall that I started my blog post about going off to find my next work adventure with words of wisdom from Winnie the Pooh. The dude is a total prophet, I tell you (albeit, not gender inclusive). And after less time than I expected, I’m re-invoking Pooh and putting on my Big Boots. I have figured out my next career adventure and I’m really excited about it.
On January 7, 2019, right in the thick of the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, I will be walking around with entirely new business cards. On that day, I will be joining Manatt Phelps & Phillips to head up its digital and technology businesses and the firm’s venture capital fund. If you want to see the official press release, HERE it is.
“What?” you may be asking? “Isn’t that a law firm? They have a venture fund? What the heck? Are you leaving healthcare?” Well, if you know me, you know that the Princess Bride is my all time favorite film; So as the Princess Bride’s Inigo Montoya would say, “Let me ‘splain… no, there is too much. Let me sum up.”
As you may recall in my last missive on the “what am I gonna be when I grow up?” topic back in September, I had a few particular goals for the next thing I wanted to do. In fact, I had devised a handy dandy list for reference when I got too starry-eyed about ideas that came my way. I promised myself I would be absolutely uncompromising about finding a role that had:
- great people who welcome me at the table;
- some new things to learn, hopefully even beyond the healthcare sector;
- the ability to actively grow things, whether they be programs, revenues, and/or teams; and,
- a great culture where I can be exactly who I am and be appreciated for it.
When I had time to consider the Manatt opportunity, I realized that I could find all these things there, even without my rose-colored glasses. Another great Winnie-the-Pooh quote is, “Think it over, think it under.” After following his ever-sage advice, Manatt seemed like the absolutely right next move for me.
For those of you less familiar with the firm, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips started off as a law firm but has morphed over time to a broad-based professional services firm that also does extensive amounts of strategic consulting, policy work, and a number of other things, all in an integrated fashion. Their goal is to be the professional services firm of the future, committed to innovating to meet the ever-evolving needs of a sophisticated client base across many industries. And on all counts, Manatt appears to me to be a remarkably entrepreneurial place, eager to hear new ideas and expand beyond existing capabilities across the service realm. And that is pretty cool. Each time I say to them something like, “How about we try this crazy idea?” they respond with, “Great, figure out how to make it happen.” That’s my kind of place and definitely ticks the number 4 box up above. Plus, they seem to appreciate my sense of humor, at least so far 🙂 And they are also 100% encouraging of my various extra-curricular activities like this blog, Tech Tonics and CSweetener. Yay box 4!
The people are amazing. Not only are they chock full of super creative and remarkably experienced consultants, lawyers and generally smarty-pants humans, they are so damned friendly. Everyone I have interacted with at the company has been so welcoming and supportive. I have experienced this phenomenon before, and I have also experienced the opposite of it, so it’s always easy to know it when you see it. And “it” was number one on my personal hit parade of criteria for my next gig.
I have been fortunate in that I have known some at the firm for double-digit numbers of years and they still like me; I have known others there for less time but have found some truly kindred spirits. Plus, Manatt is deeply committed to diversity, which is a welcome thing in my world, as you know. I love to work around powerful, smart women and they have integrated this population into the firm for real: Manatt has a newly-elected incoming female CEO, a female COO and numerous others representing diversity of ethnicity, gender and the rest, which makes for a far more successful workplace – and if you don’t believe diversity is an advantage, great; we will shortly be running right past you to the front of the pack. Plus, Manatt has a wide range of people across the company who seem to genuinely give a damn about their colleagues and the world around them. Box 1 checked.
In my new role I am super excited to be able to add value to the healthcare consulting practice and to stay deeply connected to the venture world. But I’m also thrilled to be taking on something much bigger. As head of the Digital and Technology Practice, I have the opportunity to do some new things that are beyond my typical bailiwick – taking a much broader view of the tech world that includes the intersection of healthcare and technology, but also much more. It will also be my role to expand on the great base Manatt has built in digital media, technology and venture capital more broadly.
So, for all the teasing I have done about AI and Blockchain, now I get my comeuppance – my plate clearly includes supporting clients that are seeking strategic advisory, legal and other services as they build their businesses across the gamut of frontier technologies across all industries, not just healthcare. This includes the entrepreneurial and venture communities, as well as the large companies that share a goal to leverage digital transformation to maximize growth and performance. Hey, I think I have coined a new word: transformance! Granted, I am writing this post from a Southwest Airlines flight where my tiny little napkin touts the idea of “transfarency,” but I like it!. Digital transformance: using technology and entrepreneurial partnership models as a transformational pathway to innovation and optimal performance. Trademark goes to me! Manatt’s goal is to be partner to both the disruptors and the potentially disrupted to find paths to working together for mutual success. I’ve been working exactly at that nexus for a while but not as broadly across the technology and venture spectrum as this role allows for, so Box 2 checked. I love it when a plan comes together.
And as far as number 3 on my list goes, there is nothing more intellectually invigorating than trying new things and growing new businesses; this is an opportunity to do both but from a well-respected existing platform, so the best of both worlds. This role also provides a way to scale up much of the work I have previously done on venture capital fund formation, company creation and innovation strategy but with a much broader purview and the backing of a great brand. Woo hoo! Time will tell, of course, but I’m hoping I have hit the jackpot.
And on top of all that, I get to stay steeped in the venture capital world through management of the Manatt Venture Fund. I look forward to continuing the firm’s history of investing in tech and healthcare innovators alongside my old friends and hopefully also among new ones. For those interested, the fund invests in client companies, often in their early “seed to Series A” rounds of funding; as a limited partner or member of our client venture capital and private equity funds; and, alongside our fund clients in their portfolio companies. So keep the deal flow coming – we are open for business. And for all my friends breaking out to start their own funds, let us help you with fund formation and so much more.
And further to the idea of an organization who supports me as I am, YES, I will be continuing the blog, the TechTonics podcast, CSweetener, my UC Berkeley faculty gig, and all my other wild and crazy activities that ensure I never sleep and always learn. I know I am the hyperactivity poster-child, but I have always been one of those people who generally sucks at sitting still when I could be out causing good trouble with my colleagues and enjoying the loud laugh that accompanies it.
I am super excited to be joining Manatt and the opportunity here to build something very broad and interesting to serve companies as they instigate and/or work through digital transformation, as they navigate the brave new world of innovation strategy, and/or as they grow from young to mature firms. Companies are looking for more than just vendors; Manatt thinks holistically about how to deliver a broad and deep set of professional services and be a real growth partner to its clientele. Yeah, yeah, everybody says stuff like that, but I have been a Manatt client myself, so I am pretty sure this is the real deal.
And to all of you who reached out to give me career suggestions, introductions, friendship and warm fuzzies during my last couple of untethered months, and there were so many it was an embarrassment of riches, THANK YOU! It was incredibly gratifying to feel so supported by my peeps and by such a broad community of colleagues who so unselfishly came out of the woodwork to reinforce our camaraderie and friendship. Wow, really, it has been overwhelming and lovely. I am so lucky to know all of you and have you on my particular desert island. Thanks again.
And to my already friends and about to be new friends at Manatt who may be reading this, let’s rock and roll! Thank you for being so welcoming and so over-the-top happy to have me. There is so much good work to be done, fun to be had, laughs to share, challenges to conquer and success to celebrate. I so look forward to doing those things with you.
FYI, I’m not officially starting until January and, aside from blogging, am hoping to actually take most of December off for winter hibernation. If Winnie-the-Pooh is my spirit animal, I’m going to hunker down right beside him in a cave and go dark for a few weeks. I look forward to getting a running start and seeing all of you right after New Year’s at the JPM circus and beyond.