A change of plans
From graduating with first-class honours in chemistry to launching a venture capital firm targeting a $100-million fund for women’s and children’s health technology, Annie Thériault’s career shift led her to the mission-driven work she always wanted.
After earning her Bachelor of Science, Thériault took the conventional route of following it with a master’s degree. She was halfway through her first year at Waterloo when a conversation over coffee with her supervisor gave rise to a revelation. As Thériault listened to her supervisor enthusiastically recount details of a conference at which they had recently presented, she realized she had never felt this level of excitement for chemistry. Although she was doing well in her courses, she made the decision to leave her program and try something different.
Thériault’s interest in chemistry was primarily based on her affinity for numbers and math, which is why she chose business and finance as her next field of study. Looking back at her time as an undergraduate student, Thériault recognizes the valuable skills she gained that made switching programs feasible and that have come in handy in her current career.
“Research at Mount Allison has helped me with problem-solving and making quick decisions. I was trained to find patterns in data, identify what sticks out, and make proofs,” she says.
Thériault completed a PhD in Finance and entered the world of business in the most technical field, as a currency and derivatives trader and investor in hedge funds. She then joined the venture capital world following a significant shift in this sector during and after the credit crisis of 2008. Over time, Thériault found her niche in science-driven innovations, beginning with Cleantech Investments.
More recently, Thériault ran an innovation platform focused on mobilizing millions of dollars for high-impact healthcare companies in emerging markets called the Every Woman Every Child Innovation Marketplace. She was also a founding member of a female-led Toronto-based business accelerator called The Big Push. Thériault says she created a firm that truly reflects her passions with Cross Border Impact Ventures (CBIV) — which only invests to generate high returns for its investors, while also creating measurable impact with evidence-based innovations.
Thériault and her team have been working for three years to launch the CBIV Women’s and Children’s Health Technology Fund, which will invest in companies creating innovations that have the potential to transform health care in North America, Europe, emerging markets, and underserved populations.
“We launched CBIV based on the idea that borders should not dictate who gets access to the best health technologies,” says Thériault.
When talking with students and sharing how she went from studying chemistry to working in venture capital, Thériault often tells them that their first degree is what shapes how they think, it trains their brain, and those transferable skills will help them find a career that brings them joy.