For Kathy Park, the career journey she has taken to ascend to her current title as partner for Andra Capital has been one of hard work, determination, and at least equally important, the help of others. She is particularly thankful for the support she has received from family, teachers, coworkers, and other managers throughout her career.
Park is a partner at Andra Capital, a late-stage capital investment firm whose clients are emerging companies with strong financials, growing sales, and solid business plans in emerging, disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. Park is responsible for business development and managing relationships with strategic partners.
A Korean-American, Park has attained a degree of success that has eluded many women and minorities. But she is adamant that women and minorities have the abilities to succeed in the areas of finance and tech, and has tried to be a mentor for others seeking to work their way up.
Love of Math and Science
The roots of Park’s career can be traced to her childhood, where Park admitted she was a math and science geek growing up. With strong support network that started with her family and transcended to her schooling, Park was able to develop strong cognitive and analytic abilities early in life.
The support network started with Park’s family. As a pharmacist, Park’s mother was a working mother, as well as her aunts. “I saw it was possible to have a career and be a mother,” said Park, who herself has two children and has worked consistently throughout her adulthood.
Math Teacher Inspiration
Park credits her teachers for a lot of her success. “I had an incredible math teacher in middle school, Mr. Vern Williams, who inspired so many of us to love mathematics. He really taught me to do difficult math equations.” Park noted that Williams happened to be African-American, which has helped her debunk stereotypes that members of minority groups cannot succeed in STEM professions.”
William’s inspiration was a factor in Park applying to and getting admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology in Fairfax County, Virginia, considered one of the nation’s leading high schools for STEM education.
Park went on to Harvard University where she earned both a Bachelor’s degree and an MBA, studying quantitative subjects such as economics, computer science, applied mathematics. Park believes this solid grounding in challenging subjects made it easier to learn finance later on. “I did not formally study finance but was able to figure out complex derivatives. I understood the theory and application.”
From the Trenches to Director
Through the suggestion of a college friend, Park later took an internship in investment bank, where she got hooked on financial trading and raising capital. This led her to positions at Goldman Sachs, where she was a managing director for 15 years, as well as heading business development for Grafine Partners and Pagaya. Park joined Andra Capital last November.
Park credits a strong network of co-workers and managers for helping her navigate through her career. “It is important to have good-sounding boards to clarify issues.” Park has tried been a mentor to others. “I continue to mentor and guide people I knew at Goldman Sachs.”
For Park, being a woman and a minority in male-dominated fields was something that became more apparent as she ascended the career ladder.
“When you are in the trenches working, you think survival,” Park said. “We had no idea we were trailblazers until we reached upper levels.”
But Park is proud of the fact that she is a woman and a Korean-American. “When you are a member of a minority group, you have a less colored view of what is happening. You have a better sense of the big picture.”
Giving Back and Giving Advice
Despite her busy schedule, Park has found the time to give back over the years. She is currently a Board Member for Malaria No More, a global non-profit group that seeks to eradicate malaria. Park was also served on the boards for Susan Komen Greater NYC and Youth Advocacy Center.
Park’s advice to others, particularly women and minorities, is to find mentors and sponsors, particularly early in life. She also emphasized the importance of networking.
As she raises her two children, Park also strongly believes in encouraging children to take risks and learn from failures.
“Kids should learn to be comfortable with failure and risk, to do something outside their comfort zones. It is so much easier to take risks when you are younger.”
Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News covering the electronics beat. He has many years of experience covering developments in components, semiconductors, subsystems, power, and other facets of electronics from both a business/supply-chain and technology perspective. He can be reached at [email protected]