(By K Alshanetsky ’17)
Elizabeth “Beezer” Clarkson ’94, managing director for Sapphire Ventures, was recently profiled in Forbes magazine. A 2014 “Forty Over 40 Women to Watch” honoree and one of 2016’s “Top 30 Women Rising Stars in Institutional Investing,” Clarkson is highly regarded in the tech and venture communities. The Forbes article, Want To Be Appreciated, Give Someone A Shot by Whitney Johnson, details both Clarkson’s background and her commitment “to magnify opportunities for other women,”—or “give them a shot,” in the vernacular of the Broadway hit, Hamilton.
Clarkson found her first post-college position—a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley—through what is now Wesleyan’s Gordon Career Center, before following the path of the booming tech industry west, relocating to San Francisco. A former Wesleyan trustee, she holds an MBA from Harvard and has a 20-year career as a strategy consultant and investor for various firms and large companies. Quick to give credit to those women who helped her early in her career, Clarkson is eager to assist others.
Describing the ways Clarkson works with entrepreneurs, Johnson writes:
Clarkson embraces the unconventional, as willing to jump industry boundaries and try new roles as she was to move cross country. Today she champions innovation through investment in early stage venture firms in US, Europe and Israel, but her interest is humanitarian and charitable as well as professional. She is as an advisor to Tala, a women-led mobile technology and data science company [founded and led by Shivani Siroya ’04] that is working to change the way credit scoring and financial services work around the world. Formerly she served on the Investor Advisory Council to Astia, organized to providing accelerated funding and enhancing the growth of high-potential, women-led startups.
Johnson also notes that Clarkson uses the question “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” as her personal inspiration, challenging herself to accept opportunities—and she offers this guidance to others, as well.