Mar. 08, 2023 by CVCA Staff
Toronto, ON – March 8, 2023 – The Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) is pleased to announce the winners of the inaugural Canadian Women in Private Capital Awards, which celebrates exceptional women who have shown a dedication to professional excellence in the Canadian private capital industry.
The Canadian Women in Private Capital Awards are separate from CVCA’s general awards program and aim to identify, recognize, and celebrate the achievements and contributions of exemplary women in the industry. Winners will be recognized during a sold-out morning reception event, sponsored by CIBC Innovation Banking, in celebration of International Women’s Day.
CVCA’s Woman of Achievement Award recognizes outstanding Canadian GPs and their dedication to elevating the performance and leadership of women in the Canadian private capital industry. The winners of the Woman of Achievement Award have shown dedication to raising the bar for performance by women in the industry, have had a significant impact on innovation and value creation and have contributed meaningfully to improving gender diversity in the industry and beyond.
The 2023 winners of the CVCA’s Woman of Achievement Award are Whitney Rockley from McRock Capital, who won the award for venture capital (VC), and Lisa Melchior from Vertu Capital, who won the award for private equity (PE).
Whitney Rockley is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner at McRock Capital. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Rockley has been instrumental in building McRock Capital into a leading investor in the digital industrial sector. She is also passionate about supporting women in entrepreneurship and as the first woman to serve as Chair of CVCA since its inception in 1974, she spearheaded the establishment of the inaugural taskforce on diversity and inclusion. This initiative was instrumental in creating CVCA’s Diversity and Inclusion committee that she skillfully led for many years. With a fervent conviction that diverse teams deliver superior performance, she is a powerful advocate for these initiatives within the technology and private capital communities.
Rockley has achieved several notable accomplishments in recent years. Rockley was instrumental in raising two oversubscribed funds for a total of CAD $200M. McRock has also made successful investments, with one of its portfolio companies, ThoughtTrace Inc., being acquired by Thomson Reuters in Q1 2022. Additionally, mnubo was successfully acquired by AspenTech in 2019 and Decisive Farming was acquired by Telus later that same year. Rockley was the Chair of the Board of Directors of Decisive Farming and a member of mnubo’s Board of Directors.
Lisa Melchior is a trailblazing Founder and Managing Partner at Vertu Capital, where she is the first woman in Canada to start a private equity fund. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Melchior has invested more than $1.5 billion in 25 technology companies over the course of her career, becoming a well-respected figure in the private capital ecosystem. She is also a staunch advocate for promoting diversity in the industry, having built a highly diverse team, and having mentored many women in private equity over the past two decades.
Melchior has achieved several notable accomplishments in recent years. In 2021, Melchior and her team launched Vertu Partners Fund I, targeting growth to lower mid-market technology companies, a previously underserved market in Canada. Under Melchior’s leadership Vertu has grown quickly, having led several successful investments, with one of its portfolio companies, Firmex Inc, sold to strategic buyer Datasite in Q3 2021.
The CVCA’s Rising Woman Star Award recognizes individuals who have made significant business contributions and achieved notable accomplishments. The winners of the Rising Woman Start Award have demonstrated exceptional leadership, contributed to improving gender diversity, and have exhibited a clear and strong ambition for advancement into leadership roles.
The 2023 winners of the CVCA’s Rising Woman Star Award are Courtney Cooper from Alate Partners, who won the award for VC, and Kristin Smith from Novacap, who won the award for PE.
Courtney Cooper is a Principal at Alate Partners, a private investment firm focused on the intersection of real estate and technology. With over a decade of experience in the sector, Cooper leads investments in innovative proptech startups that redefine the way we live and work and lead to a healthier, more equitable planet. She is also committed to mentoring and supporting the development of young women in the industry.
Kristin Smith is a Principal at Novacap, a leading Canadian private equity firm. With over 15 years of experience, Smith is responsible for identifying and executing investment opportunities in various sectors, including technology, media, and telecommunications. Smith is focused on industries and technology companies benefiting from the significant trend towards digitization including serving on the Boards of Accurate Group in the mortgage technology sector and PlusGrade, a leading Canadian-based technology business transforming the ancillary revenue space for the global travel industry. She is also an advocate for diversity and inclusion in private equity and supports numerous organizations and initiatives that advance these causes.
"We are thrilled to recognize these outstanding women in private capital who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the industry," said Kim Furlong, Chief Executive Officer, CVCA. "The improved business outcomes resulting from diverse teams have a ripple effect throughout the Canadian economy. By recognizing and celebrating the achievements of these women in private capital, we hope to inspire women leadership, and ultimately drive economic growth and innovation across all sectors."
"I'm thrilled to see these outstanding women in private capital being recognized for their achievements through the new Canadian Women in Private Capital Awards program,” said Hans Knapp, Partner, Yaletown, and Chair, CVCA. “Diversity is a critical driver of success in our industry, and these awards showcase the significant contributions that women are making to the private capital ecosystem. By celebrating these exceptional individuals, we hope to inspire the next generation of women leaders in our industry and accelerate progress towards greater diversity and inclusion."
"The selection process for CVCA’s new Canadian Women in Private Capital Awards was both rigorous and rewarding,” said Tracey McVicar, Partner, CAI Capital Partners, and Chair, CVCA’s Award Committee. “We were extremely impressed by the exceptional calibre of the nominees, and it was a difficult task to choose just a few winners. These awards are an important way to recognize the achievements of women in our industry, and highlight the valuable contributions they make to the private capital ecosystem. By celebrating these outstanding individuals, we hope to inspire others to strive for excellence and to create a more diverse and inclusive industry. Congratulations to the first winners of these new awards!”