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One-way ticket

What matters most to Emy

Mount Kenya

‘I bought a one-way ticket to Nairobi’, Emy said with teary eyes during our December performance reviews.

Since Emy started the application process to enroll in a top MBA, Fernando, my partner, and I were preparing mentally to lose our most precious colleague. Hearing she was leaving very soon was a shock nonetheless. After a long sad pause, we congratulated her on her decision to move to Kenya before her MBA.

I met Emy more than 4 years ago on a Skype job interview. That call took her from Paris to Mexico City a few weeks later. She first joined Numa, the seed acceleration company I co-founded as a junior manager and transitioned to our VC firm a year later to become an investment professional— first as part of our healthcare team and two years later as the head of that practice. I have seen her evolve from a competent, reliable but timid team member to become the standard of excellence within our firm.

Emy’s capacity to learn and deliver value is exceptional. She built our firm’s chatbot ALLIE by looking at Youtube tutorials. She coordinated a complex and successful turnaround for a small network of clinics saving a portfolio company from bankruptcy. She built on her own our financial mark to market model to estimate fund performance. She crafted an entrepreneurship high school course and delivered it with great reviews, despite no previous teaching experience. These are only a few examples of all that Emy has contributed to our firm and the Mexican entrepreneurial ecosystem in French, English or Spanish — it doesn’t matter to her — with an unparalleled commitment and attention to detail.

Millennials are a challenging generation to mentor mainly because they’re impatient. Emy is as curious and idealistic as the best of her contemporaries but she stands out because she’s persistent and steady. I would argue she has become the best venture capital associate in Mexico at her young age in part because she is a patient grinder. Despite her rapid ascent, Emy is always humble and graceful, gaining the respect all her colleagues in every interaction.

We are a small and hyperactive group of investors. In just a few years, we have achieved more than we had imagined when founding our firm in part because Emy was part of our team.

One of the most important traits of Emy’s leadership style is courage. Every step of her young career is a testament to this rare quality that will help her achieve what she sets her mind to do. A quote by Nelson Mandela captures best what I see in Emy: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Stanford Graduate School of Business

As she embarks to new horizons, I know Emy has the potential to be a transformative leader. I am convinced she will, in fact, change the world for the better. I am eager to see where the future will take her equipped with more tools, more confidence and the support of a global top MBA community. As her mentor, I am sure her Nairobi and MBA experience will help her dream up a better world.

So here I am sharing with you all what I told Stanford about Emy filled with satisfaction and hope. Of all my recommendation letters, this is the most significant statement I’ve written on behalf of an extraordinary candidate.

Here’s to a life full of impact and love, Emy. Daima mbele!

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I write about my work as an investor, a lecturer, and a mentor. In general, musings about Latin American tech, VC and life.

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