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JW McGovern

Palo Alto
JW McGovern

Investing is a career in lifelong learning

From an early age, I was a math and science kid. I still remember in elementary school begging my parents to quiz me on my multiplication times tables on our morning drive to school. My career – studying Economics in college, investment banking and then investing – felt like the natural path to apply my love of numbers to a real-world setting. The analytical side of investing is what drew me in initially. However, the social side is what’s made me decide to make it a career. The ability to ask questions, meet incredible founders and management teams, constantly learn about the world around me from industry experts, and form connections with diverse people is what makes me excited to go to work every morning. Investing is all about lifelong learning, and constantly riffing with people about their vision of the future. I feel fortunate to have a job that brings together both the analytical and social sides of my personality in such a fulfilling way.

Intellectual honesty starts with humility

When I started out in investing, I admired the senior investment partners and management teams that were always trying to pick the brains of the younger team members. It takes humility for a partner or CEO, who may be 25 years older, to believe that they can learn from the younger folks on the team who may have a different mindset and perspective. At Advent, everyone is encouraged to speak up, to voice an opinion. I am grateful for that culture, where anyone can form a rounded opinion and speak out. It’s this culture that allows us to be intellectually honest – we are ready to learn from anyone.

Tech allows humans to be humans

My mom worked in human resources her entire career. I remember there being an immense amount of paperwork, and her spending a huge amount of time doing things that could now have been automated. Software and technology are transforming this across every industry – they’re allowing humans to be humans and use as much of their brain power as possible on interesting, creative, human things. It’s exciting to research and invest in what we call ‘enterprise multipliers’ – software companies that help unleash the power of an enterprise or get a start-up off the ground.

At Advent, people are trying to find ways to say yes

We’re constantly thinking about the upside. We like to imagine how a company grows its revenue from $10m to $500m, and how Advent can help create this future. It generates great energy and optimism – people are trying to find ways to say yes. There are many firms that are investors, and there are some that are business builders. Advent is both. We have an incredible depth of resources here to help power that growth and optimism. The investment team and the Portfolio Support Group are ready to roll up our sleeves and dig in when required, and we have the humility to know when to step back.