What success I’ve had has been a function of the lessons I learned about working hard, always doing your best, discipline, persistence, never giving up, and always doing work that you are passionate about.
There’s been an element of good fortune. I’ve been at the right place at the right time with the right folks mentoring me.
After college I joined the Marines because I couldn’t think of anything I would have rather done than become a platoon commander. In the Marines, I joined a reconnaissance company as a communications officer. That was only because I had a mentor in a senior position who gave me a heads-up that the position was opening.
When I was in the military, it was peacetime, right after the first Gulf War. I was spending a lot of time in the desert training. It was very different from what the military has been through in the last 10 years. At the time, I thought it would be a long time before I had the opportunity to be in a leadership position.
It made sense for me then to leave after my first tour and go to business school.
I had an idea that ultimately I would be in venture capital but I never knew how I would get there.
I remember a good friend once told me, don’t try to look around corners. People try to get from A to Z, but just focus on getting from A to B.
So I did.
I went to business school and got hired at Goldman Sachs.
I ended up working for the team of people that went on to found Goldman’s technology group on the West Coast, which gave me the opportunity to work on deals like the initial public offering for eBay and other exciting deals in the late 1990s.
Then I got a call from a recruiter who was working for David Rubenstein to find new associates for the Carlyle Group’s U.S. buyout group. I started as an associate and left as a principal.
A highlight was helping a company called Vought Aircraft Industries arrange financing in 2005. The financing allowed the company to open a manufacturing plant in South Carolina to build components for the Boeing 787 aircraft.
I eventually left Carlyle to join TWP Capital. The founding partner of TWP Capital was my father. I learned from him and got an incredible experience seeing the evolution of a fund.
I had the good fortune that TWJ had invested in KoolSpan. Over the past 18 months, I made myself available to support the team’s management company as they pursued opportunities in the mobile security market.
Now, at KoolSpan, I am looking forward to making sure the company has the financial resources it needs to facilitate growth and the financial infrastructure in place for rapid scaling.
— Interview with Vanessa Small
Position: Chief financial officer of KoolSpan, a Bethesda company that develops hardware and security applications to protect data and voice communications over network-connected devices.
Career highlights: Partner, TWJ Capital; principal, Carlyle Group; associate, technology investment banking group, Goldman Sachs.
Education: BA, history, Harvard University; MBA, Stanford University.
Personal: Lives in Bethesda with his wife, Dianne, and their three children, Carter, Isabelle and Logan.