Venture Exec Lisa Coca: Outperforming the Competition Is the Price of Admission for Women of Color

Featuring a broad cross-section of women who have distinguished themselves across a rich variety of careers, our Portraits of Power series is a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Black Enterprise, and of black women. It’s a place for today’s businesswomen to share their own favorite images and their own stories, in their own words. Today’s portrait is startup adviser and investor Lisa Coca.

Lisa Coca

Managing Director/Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Intel Emerging Growth & Incubation

My first job was as a financial analyst on Wall Street. I constructed the firm’s first automated model for the valuation and acquisition of more than $700 million of distressed loans.

My big break came when Beth Comstock, then Global CMO for GE, tapped me to partner with her in development of the business plan for the launch of GE Ventures. She was incredibly forward-thinking and trusted my ability to translate prior experience and skill sets in a new domain.

I’ve had to work hardest at always being better than the best. For women of color, outperforming the competition in financial services, which is dominated by Caucasian males, is not a luxury. It is table stakes.

I never imagined I would have a daughter who is so incredibly dominated by her right brain! I could not be more proud—she is amazingly artistic but it does take her 20 minutes to put on her socks in the morning. It makes me crazy!

I wish I’d learned sooner about the world of technological innovation. It is driving transformative shifts in our economy, our everyday lives, and offers women an incredible path to empowerment.

My biggest regret is not taking more risks early in my career—exploring opportunities that would have placed me in greater control of my own destiny.

If I could design my fantasy self-care day, I would go back in time to the days when I had fewer responsibilities. When I could wake up, go for a 10-mile run in Central Park, relax, meet my girlfriends for a leisurely lunch, go home and read a book and then re-group with the girls for a night out on the town!

Being a working mother keeps me up at night. I love the adrenalin rush from working and achieving success in a very competitive profession. I also appreciate the element of providing our daughters with role models … “if she can see it, she can be it”. Notwithstanding, it requires compromises. I wish I could be there for her and with her every minute, of every hour, every day.

When I’m struggling, I say to myself, you got this!

I am unapologetically tenacious in my drive for results.

Portraits of Power is a yearlong series of candid insights from exceptional women leaders. It is brought to you by ADP.