Bold Ventures: Kathy Harris, MBA’85

From the Spring 2010 edition of Vanderbilt Business

Kathy Harris
Kathy Harris

In a way the timing couldn’t have been worse. Just when Kathy Harris, MBA’85, was making the jump from an 11-year career in investment banking to a small venture capital firm specializing in Internet startups, the dot-com bubble burst. “I started the exact month that everything began to unravel,” she recalls. “It was fun while it lasted.”

As uncertain as those days were, the experience gave Harris a taste for a career that she has relished ever since. Today she is a Partner at Noro-Moseley Partners (NMP), an Atlanta-based venture capital firm that invests in early-stage and early-growth-stage companies in the technology, health care and tech-enabled business services industries. When she’s not working on the business development efforts across these industries, she’s involved in NMP’s health care practice, which represents half of the firm’s investing activity.

“It’s addictive to meet energetic entrepreneurs and see new business models on a daily basis,” she says. “We’re exposed to the latest and greatest technologies and health care delivery systems being introduced. And I get to dissect what works and what doesn’t—what makes a management team effective and what doesn’t.”

Harris credits Owen with giving her the skills to make these tough decisions. Certainly her concentration in finance has helped, but she admits her emphasis in human resources management has paid the most surprising dividends. “I didn’t appreciate how helpful the HR focus would be,” she says. “So much of our business today is based on assessing management talent—just understanding the psyche of leadership and what it takes to build and motivate a team.”

Beyond the courses, though, she acknowledges that Owen has played an even greater role in terms of the relationships she has built. “I still do business with people I met 25 years ago,” she says. “I think that’s what the Owen network and reputation can bring to a young person just starting out.”

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