Kim Furlong, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association.
The CVCA enters a new chapter today, with the announcement of Kim Furlong as our new Chief Executive Officer. As the Canadian private capital industry rapidly matures, Furlong joins the leadership ranks at the association, representing our interests with all levels of government, and forwarding our collective agenda on several fronts.
Furlong has a dynamic background and brings almost 20 years experience in public policy and communications. She brings with her an extensive national and international network that was built from positions within the federal government, the corporate world as well as trade associations. Most recently, she was leading external relations for Amgen Canada, an American-based multinational biopharmaceutical company. Before joining Amgen, Furlong was Vice-President Federal Government Relations for the Retail Council of Canada.
Furlong’s expansive career began within the government as a communications official when Canada hosted the G8 Summit in Kananaskis. She went on to hold positions such as Director of Communications for the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, Pierre Pettigrew and held an advisory role for James. S. Peterson, the Canadian International Trade Minister.
“I’ve worked both as an official for the federal government, and as a politically appointed person,” says Furlong. “I think there’s significant value in having experience on both sides of government and understanding how policy is made, and how decisions are made.”
This unique understanding of government process and policy combined with a decade in a multinational and a few years as a senior executive in a trade association has prepared Furlong to take on the challenges that our industry faces.
“I have sat on both sides of the trade association table, most recently as an active member of two life sciences organizations and previously as a senior executive for Canadian retail. Having served and delivered for members in the past and having been one recently, I am excited to meet CVCA’s members and work to solidify the value we bring to them on a daily basis. I know that my experience in government, in the corporate world, and my time dealing with trade associations brings a balanced set of experience to apply to the challenges that we’ll face as an industry at the CVCA.”
Furlong expects to hit the ground running in 2019 and is energized.
“I really see venture capital and private equity as being partnered hand-in-hand with the government’s growth and innovation agenda,” Furlong expressed. “When I hear the government talk about the willingness to see Canadian start ups, scale up, I think, we as an industry, are best positioned to help the government deliver on that goal.
From attracting and growing Canadian talent, to building a strong ecosystem for start up companies to flourish, to a competitive taxation system, our voice and the role of this industry is essential to Canada’s economic success. We’re positioned at a time in the industry that we can deliver a lot of value; not only for our members but, in partnership with governments, we can help transform the economy.”
According to CVCA industry data, the last few years have seen venture capital and private equity push to new records and pivot focus to respond to various market variables. Furlong expects to adapt to these changes and offer more benefits for CVCA’s membership.
“The VC and PE community are growing in Canada. As the industry grows, the CVCA will have the opportunity to redefine our offerings and to accompany the industry,” Furlong noted. “I join a very strong team at the CVCA. In the short term, I will spend time learning from them and will be listening very carefully to our members to understand the needs of the industry. I know we can grow this organization not only in the size of its members but in the share of our voice externally; bringing additional value for our members and to policy makers.”
Furlong is the first woman to hold the position of CEO at the CVCA. This represents a progressive evolution of the industry and is a signal to future generations.
“Honestly, I grew up being told I could do whatever I wanted, and I believed it,” explained Furlong. “I think that succeeding Mike (Woollatt) in this position is a continuation and the fulfillment of the experiences that I’ve gathered along my career that have positioned me well to do it.
“Now, the symbolism of having a woman and the decision to put a woman in the leadership seat at CVCA, says a lot about the industry and the industry’s willingness to embrace diversity and gender equity. At one-time this was a male-dominated industry and to a certain extent could be argued is still male-dominated today,” challenged Furlong.
“My appointment is a signal that woman can and should aspire to be in leadership roles within the sector and that is great news.
“When you come from a place that’s small, you stay very real.”
So, who is Kim Furlong personally and what is she up to when she’s not working?
“I’m happiest on my road bike, sun shining, wind blowing on the back roads of Prince Edward County; as a former triathlete, I remain very active. My parents were entrepreneurs and I grew up in restaurants; my mom was a chef, so I love to cook. I love to host, I love to sit around a table surrounded by people I love with good food and great wine. I have twin boys that are about to turn four and are the funniest people I’ve ever met. They are, at times, a hand full, but they also feed my soul.
I grew up in one of the most beautiful parts of this country—a small town on the Gaspé Coast of Quebec called Percé. So, while I have lived in urban settings for most of my life, I come from a small town of about 3000 people and, when you come from a place that’s small, you stay very real. At every point of my career while doing different things, I still go home where I’m just “Kim.” Growing up there has shaped my personality and given me my authenticity.”