How Ariadne Capital founder Julie Meyer relies on the her support network by Stephen Milton.
As the founder and chief executive of Ariadne Capital - one of the leading forces behind providing financial investment advice and contacts to entrepreneurs in the media and technology sectors - Julie Meyer knows a thing or two about a solid business venture. But when it comes down to her greatest investment, she strays ever so slightly from her occupational portfolio to somewhere a little more personal. “I always say that I am my best investment,” Julie begins, speaking exclusively to Executive PA Magazine. “I've always viewed myself as what I need to invest in - from an INSEAD MBA, to myself as entrepreneur. After that, it’s all about having great people around me.”
Having built up the Ariadne brand from the ground up 12 years ago, Meyer initially offered backing to Espotting (now MIVA), Kashya (later sold to EMC) and Skype (later sold to eBay) and holds current investments in Geocast, Zopa and Global Dawn. With the company expanding operations with Entrepreneur Country, a network of investors, entrepreneurs, corporate organisations and media partners, and the Ariadne Capital Entrepreneurs Fund (ACE) established to back up internet and mobile internet companies at the seed stage, the American tycoon has made sure to populate her organisation with the best minds in the business. Initially however, it didn’t start out that way. “I made some poor hiring decisions early on, and I have thoroughly berated myself for them,” she admits, candidly. “To fully sweep out the virus that a couple of people brought into the firm took longer than I had wanted.
“Now, I work with very strong teams both above and below me, and I'm very proud that these people have chosen to build their careers and professional contributions around me too. I never take that for granted, and I try always to make this the best place for them to achieve what they want to achieve. A focal point in the team set-up is my Executive Assistant, Claire Langmead, who I’ve been with for over two years now. It’s fair to say it has been a great time together.”
Julie, voted one of INSEAD’s ‘50 alumni who have changed the world’, credits the smoothness of the current operation down to Claire’s initiative and diplomatic negotiations skills. “Claire is a ‘glass half full’ person who pitches in. I’ve never once heard her say ‘that’s not my job’. She is organised, friendly, constructive, hard-working, thoughtful and committed; and presents the image that I want my EA to present to the world. I get a lot of compliments about her on my travels.
“Sometimes I have to brief her quickly, and it's amazing to me how fast she is on the uptake. She's very intelligent - I say two words and she completes the thought. I can tell she's used to working with top executives. Due to my schedule, there’s the need to rearrange things a lot more than I would like. Claire seems to get this done without people getting upset. She also single-handedly project managed one of the most important events that Ariadne Capital has ever done – the ‘Follow The Entrepreneur Investment Summit’ last year – and did a spectacular job. It’s that sort of reliability that’s essential for me.”
However the event did provide an extreme juggling challenge for Claire. “I would say that organising the Ariadne Investor Summit was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, as well as being the best thing,” Julie’s EA says. “It took a huge amount of planning from start to finish, but as well as being Project Manager for the Summit, I still had to continue with my usual day job, so it was a very hectic few months. There were many late nights and I was working at weekends to keep on top of everything. But it was worthwhile as the event was well received by all who attended.
“And I really enjoyed it – there has to be that level of satisfaction in any role like this. Of course, it helps when you have a wonderful room overlooking the grounds of a gorgeous hotel! That said, the job has less glamorous parts - I admit I’m not a huge fan of expenses and timesheets, but these things have to be done!”
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