Innovation is critical to the success of our customers and our company, which is why Workday invests big in innovation—both inside and outside the company. In February, we announced a $250 million fund for Workday Ventures, the strategic capital arm of Workday co-led by Mark Peek and myself. Workday Ventures is focused on accelerating the growth of emerging enterprise software companies that are valuable to our customers and complementary to our products.
People are critical to our success as we expand our efforts, which is why I am excited to introduce Brittany Skoda, who just joined our team as vice president of investments. Skoda spent nearly a decade as a technology investment banker at Goldman Sachs in San Francisco, advising companies across a range of transactions, including Amazon, Dropbox, Google, and Tesla. She also spent a year helping Goldman Sachs build out a new middle markets leveraged finance business in New York. At Workday, Skoda will be leading investments and helping to accelerate the growth of our portfolio companies.
I recently sat down with Skoda to discuss her thoughts on Workday Ventures, the need for diversity in the venture capital community, and why you’d better bring your game if you get the opportunity to golf with her.
What motivated you to move from investment banking to a corporate venture capital role?
Investment banking provided an incredible platform to learn about companies, meet people, and work on a range of transactions, from IPOs to mergers and acquisitions to investments. Through this work, I have developed a love for the companies and people in enterprise technology. I also love a challenge, and when presented with an opportunity—like helping build out a corporate ventures arm—I’ll run with it. So when I was approached to join one of the most respected companies in this space, I couldn’t refuse.
“We have a unique team, extensive enterprise experience, a vast network, and critical learnings around scaling an enterprise technology company.”
For me, it’s incredibly exciting to be a part of the Workday Ventures leadership team in the early innings, helping to shape the direction of the business and driving a key strategic initiative for the company. With our team experience encompassing products, finance, and investment experience, we have the elements to create a venture arm that drives a lot of value for both Workday and our portfolio companies.
What excites you most about enterprise technology?
There’s so much innovation happening across the entire enterprise technology stack. Every company has to constantly keep a finger on the pulse of it. With so much disruption, doing nothing is not an option. Executives have to ask, “Where are we now? Where should we be? What are others doing around us? How do we advance our strategy so that we are an enduring company?”
With Workday Ventures, we’ll not only advance areas within Workday’s core offerings—finance, human resources, and analytics—but we plan to go beyond that into other innovative areas and frontiers such as blockchain, intelligent automation, integration services, collaboration, and productivity tools.
We’ve talked about the importance of diverse backgrounds in the venture community. Can you expand on that?
I believe a diversity of skills, backgrounds, and even styles are incredibly important for any business to be successful. Everyone has different skills and worldviews. Decision-making will improve in nearly all contexts if conversations include diverse viewpoints.
Right now, there is significant focus on bringing more diversity into the venture capital community, which is terrific. All Raise is one excellent example of an organization that’s working to bring more women into the field.
One of the elements that attracted me to Workday was that from the beginning, the company has focused on culture, diversity, and embracing different points of view. With Workday Ventures, we are well on our way to continuing this trend with two women in senior roles already on the team.
What will Workday Ventures uniquely bring to the venture community?
We have a unique team, extensive enterprise experience, a vast network, and critical learnings around scaling an enterprise technology company. Our mandate enables us the flexibility to invest across all stages of development—Series A, B, C, D— with the ability to take a long-term view. We intend to partner with our portfolio companies closely and help them drive success. Taken altogether, we believe we bring significant differentiation to the market.
On the personal side, a little-known fact is that you were a Division 1 NCAA golfer at Georgetown University. Has golf been helpful to your career?
It has opened a number of doors for me. As a woman who could play well, I would often find myself in circumstances and with groups of people I would not have otherwise had access to early in my career. Golf is an amazing opportunity to learn about people, their businesses, what makes them tick, and so much more.
Golf also taught me early on how to carry conversations and be fearless in talking with people. Since neither of my parents played golf, I would be paired with country club members—who were strangers to me at the time—when I was 10 years old.