Interviewed by Hajar el Baraka
Meet our Talent, Rita Verderosa, Senior Investment Manager of Technology Transfer Fund at CDP Venture Capital SGR. In this interview, she talks about how her strong academic background has helped her in her career, what changes are needed for investment firms to become more diverse and why she is passionate about empowering girls
You have an impressive academic background having obtained a Bachelor’s degree and three Master’s degrees in Finance and Economics. How does having such a strong academic background help you in your current position?
Studying is fundamental for every job or position, even more so for technical jobs like mine. A strong academic background makes it possible to solve critical problems during our daily work. When I started my professional career, my academic background helped me overcome barriers. It gave me critical thinking and hard skills without which I could not do my job. Of course, soft skills are also very important for working in a company. These soft skills could include empathy, the passion you put into your job and the capacity to understand other people.
What does a typical day look like at your job as a Senior Investment Manager at CDP Venture Capital SGR? What makes you proudest to be where you are today?
I deal with the screening, analysis, evaluation and selection of technology transfer funds characterised by a clear value proposition and go to market strategy.
Typically I schedule analysis and due diligence meetings with potential fund managers to select the right people whom to give money to invest in suitable deep tech startups. I also deal with the negotiation of fund rules, in terms of quantitative metrics and governance principles.
The final aim is to boost the Italian technological ecosystem – launching funds means launching new startups and it leads to more job opportunities. I am proud of having a real impact on the economy and creating real value in the marketplace.
I am proud of having a real impact
on the economy and creating real value
in the marketplace.
CDP Venture Capital SGR is committed to accelerating the marketing of high-tech intellectual property via its Technology transfer funds, on which you are working. Can you tell us more about why this work is so important? How do you recognise whether research is worth investing in and how do you transform it into a profitable product?
The Technology Transfer Fund managed by CDP Venture Capital SGR is a multi-compartment fund. We invest directly in pre-seed projects and indirectly - throughout fund of fund facility - financing fund managers who invest in deep tech startups. On the one hand, the aim of the tech transfer fund is to finance intellectual property and derive value from research activities in Italy and all over Europe. Research is the pillar and the source of every type of innovation and intellectual property. In a preseed stage, it’s very difficult to understand if a specific type of research is worth investing in or not. For this reason, we invest in the proof of concept stage (PoC), which is the first laboratory evaluation of the technology; if the PoC is positive, we invest further in seed and early-stage rounds.
On the other hand, there are the tech transfer funds financed by us, that could take a look at PoC and early-stage projects that have already been financed, to invest in furtherly.
Our main aim is to invest in the scale-up of these targets.
A study from Bella Research Group and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation found that investment firms owned by women and minorities manage just 1.3 per cent of the investment industry’s 69$ trillion assets in the US despite being overrepresented in the top quartile of performance. In your view, which changes are needed for the industry to become more diverse and what happens when they do?
In my opinion, women need to have more confidence in their entrepreneurial skills. This should become the new normal. We should no longer be surprised by the results achieved by women, for example, them entering C level positions. A lot of stereotypes would then finally be erased because we would see that women generally are doing well in their jobs and that prejudices are a cultural and social issue.
This should become the new normal.
We should no longer be surprised
by the results achieved by women,
for example, them entering C level positions.
You are one of the participants in the 6th edition of WIL’s Women Talent Pool Leadership programme. Can you tell us why you wanted to participate and what have you gained from this experience?
When I was informed about WIL’s Women Talent Pool Programme, I was very excited because finally, I had found a serious programme dedicated to the training and promotion of female leadership targeting young women. I had never before participated in a programme focused on women’s leadership, particularly coming from a world fully dominated by men in C level positions. I have really appreciated the entire experience. It has been a nice discovery that has changed me in many aspects: I have had the chance to network with diverse women from different sectors and backgrounds.
When I was informed about WIL’s
Women Talent Pool Programme,
I was very excited because finally,
I had found a serious programme
dedicated to the training and promotion
of female leadership targeting young women.
You have been volunteering for more than four years at a school providing an educational and cultural point of reference for female students. Why is it important for you to work on empowering girls through education and how can this lead to achieving gender equality?
During my university studies, I lived in a female college recognised by the Italian Minister of Education, University and Research, where I received a complete education also with reference to soft skills. My role was to be a mentor for young ladies and to work on their empowerment. Based on my experience, one of the major difficulties girls face is feeling underestimated and the fear of doing something wrong. I think it’s really just a cultural issue and, by supporting young girls, we can build the future of female leadership.
Video edited by Dovilė Bogušytė