Alumni Q&A: Nina Le Lievre
24 May 2022
Nina has been the CEO of Enterprise Angels since 2019, who earlier this year invested in their 100th start-up.
Nina has been the CEO of Enterprise Angels since 2019, who earlier this year invested in their 100th start-up. The organisation began in 2008 and since then its members, funds, and wholesale investor community have collectively invested over $60m dollars. Nina joined the team as a Manager 9 years ago, working with prospective and existing portfolio companies, guiding due diligence teams, negotiating deals, launching, raising and managing EA Funds 1, 2 & 3 and managing the angel network.
She comes from a background in Investment Banking, having worked in the European Transactions Group at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in London for seven years and in the Equity Capital Markets team at Craigs Investment Partners for three years.
Now she leads the team and guides the strategic direction of Enterprise Angels as well as sitting on the Angel Association of NZ Leadership Council.
Nina enjoys the personal nature of meeting and supporting founders and connecting them to investors to help them grow their businesses. She loves hearing solutions to problems she never knew existed and truly believes that founders and start-ups are the key to helping our planet survive and thrive – they have the vision, drive and agility to make change happen. “Relationships and people make good stuff happen – nurture those and you can’t go too far wrong”
Recently we asked Nina to reflect on her career to date and her journey from graduating UC with a BA (German / Japanese) in 1995 to where she is now.
Has your career evolved the way you expected?
Definitely not! My main aspiration when I was younger was to travel. I wanted to be a travel agent or air hostess. I certainly managed to travel a lot and my career evolved from a job I secured at a German Investment Bank in London (my German helped me secure the role, but I didn’t use my German in the role at all). While I haven’t used my degree, it has formed a good basis for my approach in learning as well as fostering a lifelong passion for languages and building good relationships. Anytime I travel I make sure I learn at least the basics of the local language as you will form really neat friendships and learn so much from locals. They will respect you for appreciating their culture and language (but often want to practice their English!). I’ve learnt a few other languages depending on where my travels took me. I learnt basic Russian (including the Russian alphabet) on the flight from London to Moscow, fluent Spanish when I travelled for a year with my husband on a motorbike from Winterpark, Colorado to Ushuaia, Argentina and conversational French for the numerous weekend jaunts that I made on the Eurostar from London to Paris and further afield in France. Since completing my degree at UC, I’ve also studied a range of topics including chemistry (because it fascinates me), NZX courses (when I worked at Craigs Investment Partners), First Aid (very important), governance, finance and due diligence (for my current work with start-ups).
What goals do you hope to achieve with Enterprise Angels?
Sustainability of business, more diversity, better solutions for people and planet, which I believe will come from entrepreneurs and investment and support of them (experience, skills, connections).
What motivates / inspires you?
People solving gnarly problems and connecting them to the resources and people they need to make a difference. I’m more than happy for founders to reach out to me with their ideas. If I can’t help, I can likely refer them to the right person.
Looking back at your time at UC, what memories and experiences have stayed with you?
I met a lot of interesting, fun people. One particular experience was my summer break that was arranged via the University. I got a job working in a souvenir shop at a Japanese ski resort to improve my language skills (and skiing!) During my stay I formed some really good friendships and learnt a lot about the Japanese culture. Back then we didn’t have emails so unfortunately, I gradually lost touch, but I recently reconnected with some of my Japanese friends on Facebook which was great!
I recall doing the first year of law and found it really boring, there was a lot of reading and I didn’t do so well. This taught me to double down on what I enjoy doing. Interestingly, now I have a strong understanding of legal documents subsequent to my experience in undertaking due diligence on investment opportunities, launching funds and managing the compliance involved in this very regulated sector. I’m always looking for the most practical, simple approach with our legal documents – I probably drive our lawyer crazy!
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