10 questions for Hercules Technology Growth Capital CFO Jessica Baron

By , IDG News Service |  

Name: Jessica Baron

Age: 38

Time with company: Almost 6 years

Education: Bachelor of Arts in human biology and Master of Arts in sociology from Stanford University; MBA with an emphasis in finance from the Haas Business School, University of California at Berkeley

Company headquarters: Palo Alto, California

Countries of operation: U.S.

Number of employees total: 50

Number of employees the CFO oversees: 8

CFO's areas of responsibility: Accounting processes and financial reporting, some operational duties, mainly serving the loan portfolio

About the company: Hercules Technology Growth Capital provides customized loans to public and private technology-related companies, including clean technology, life science and select lower middle-market technology companies at all stages of development. The company has committed more than US$2.8 billion to over 200 companies.

1. Where did you start in finance and what experiences led you to the job you have today?

I started at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Internet go-go years and worked with a lot of startups as well as some venture capital firms and really enjoyed the venture space. It quickly became clear that a life of auditing or consulting was not for me, and I left PWC to join Dominion Ventures, which also had a debt portfolio -- unusual for a venture firm.

When the Internet bubble popped, Dominion scaled back, and I went to work for Levi Strauss, which was an entirely different experience. I had always wanted exposure to retail and I got that -- working for an iconic, 100-plus-year-old apparel company in a finance role supporting the U.S. sales team. As my family moved down the San Francisco peninsula, it made sense to work in technology and I spent a few years at Cisco Systems.

Eventually, I wanted to return to the investment field and to work for a small company again. At that time the opportunity at Hercules was available and I joined the team in 2006. The highlights of my past experiences are present at Hercules. This is a public company with a small company feel. Here at Hercules, we provide debt financing to venture capital backed startup companies in technology related sectors including life science, and clean technology spaces. With almost all of our debt investments we receive a warrant, or an option to purchase equity in our portfolio companies.

2. Who was an influential boss for you and what lessons did they teach you about management and leadership?

I think the most influential manager I had was the CFO at Dominion Ventures debt company. He came to Dominion with an experience leading at both large and small firms.

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