Behind the Scenes with Previous Scholarship Winner Barbara Janczer

Barbara Janczer

This is the first in a series of interviews with a previous FWSF scholarship winner. In these interviews we plan to provide a behind-the-scenes look at how the scholarship has contributed to the winner’s career advancement as well as the advancement of other women in finance and financial services.

This interview is with Barbara Janczer, a 2018 scholarship winner and a current FWSF board member.

In what year did you receive your scholarship from FWSF? Was it for undergraduate or graduate studies? What was your course of study? 

I am grateful to have received the FWSF scholarship in 2018 during my Master's degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of San Francisco. 

At the time you applied for the scholarship, what were your career aspirations? How, if at all, have those aspirations changed? Why?

During my application, I just started my job at Splunk, a big data company here in San Francisco. Coming from a marketing background and being interested in product management, I started as a project manager, which was definitely the step in the right direction. My aspiration of starting my own venture fund focused on connecting Silicon Valley money with female founders in Europe hasn't changed, if at all it has been reinforced by my nonprofit work for FWSF, Vets in Tech and by starting my own company. 

What have been your highest accomplishments since receiving the FWSF scholarship?

When I first heard that Heidi Roizen had been selected as the Financial Women of the Year (FWOTY) for 2018, I knew that I needed to meet and talk with her. When I first spotted Heidi at the (FWOTY) luncheon, I summoned all my courage and introduced myself. That evening I had the pleasure of meeting an incredibly intelligent, visionary and humble woman - all thanks to FWSF. I had so many questions about how to get into venture capital (VC), the daily tasks, what it takes to be a female in the industry and potential career options that would get me closer to my goals. Since then Heidi has not only been an incredible role model but an amazing mentor, giving me guidance on professional decisions and valuable insights into her industry. She has been taking the time to meet during her busy schedule for a mentoring session and has been unbelievably helpful in countless capacities. In May 2019 Heidi participated together with VC maven Ann Winblad from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and Tess Hatch from Bessemer Ventures in an all-female panel sharing their knowledge with the next generation of amazing women who are interested in a career in VC. I can only say that Heidi truly embodies the meaning of women supporting other women and I am grateful to have her in my network. 

What have been your greatest career challenges thus far? How did you overcome these? What advice would you give to others that might also face those same challenges?

I always see challenges as opportunities, to rise to the occasion, work harder, smarter and learn for the obstacles we face. The biggest challenge I faced thus far is staying and working in the United States, as I was unfortunately not selected to receive a work visa this year through the H1B lottery. Nevertheless, this experience has shown me the overwhelming support I received from my personal and professional networks, offering help on all fronts. I am grateful for having such amazing friends, supporters and individuals here in San Francisco.  

How have you been involved with FWSF since receiving the scholarship? Include volunteering for events, serving on committees, serving on the board?

After receiving the scholarship I was eager to give back to the organization, participate and volunteer at several events, thereby getting to know more and more members. After seeing the need for support in the FWSF technology committee I was happy to step up as co-chair and offer my technical expertise and knowledge. At the beginning of 2019, I was appointed as an FWSF board member, joining the ranks of many accomplished women in finance and financial services. I can truly say that our monthly board meetings are an absolute highlight as we are learning about our upcoming initiatives and focus as an organization.

What has your experience being involved with FWSF been like and how has it helped advance your career?

Phenomenal! Being selected as a scholarship recipient has truly skyrocketed my career in ways I couldn't have imagined. The biggest win was definitely interacting with the other members who are all remarkable thought leaders in their own field, established businesswomen running their own companies, or members who hold senior positions at known financial institutions. Learning to navigate the San Francisco career jungle, personal growth in terms of leadership, communication and self-confidence are my top wins, among many. 

How have you helped advance the careers of women in finance and financial services (our mission)? What do you plan to continue to do in this regard?

I plan to continue focusing on my goals of connecting Silicon Valley money with female entrepreneurs. Recently, I became an Entrepreneur in Residence at a female-owned seed investment fund which provides funding to women-owned companies. Only 2.2% of $130 billion in venture capital (VC) was invested in female-led startups last year. Currently, less than 10% of deal-makers at VC funds are women. I am beyond excited to be part of this new wave of amazing women paving the way for future innovation.

What are your near-term career objectives - next three years?

I am determined to start my career in venture capital and further grow my own startup, Curah, as an entrepreneur. I am excited about building a disruptive solution that brings financial independence and freedom to not one, but potentially millions of women entrepreneurs.

How do you like to spend your free time?

Self-care! I urge everyone to invest more time in self-care. We sometimes forget in times of hard work and caring for others that our own body and soul needs attention as well. Going on hikes in the Presidio, meditating, or spending a Sunday afternoon with friends at the spa allows me to recharge. 

How do you balance starting a career and having time for the other aspects of your life that are important?

As a true product manager would say, prioritization is key. No one is perfect and starting a career in San Francisco, while doing many projects at the same time, sometimes feels like juggling with glass balls. I prioritize which aspect, jobs and projects in my life need the most attention at any given day.

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