Lisa Skeete Tatum is founder and CEO of Landit, a technology platform created to increase the success and engagement of women in the workplace, and to enable companies to attract, develop, and retain high-potential, diverse talent. Landit provides each woman with a personalized playbook that empowers them with the tools, resources, know-how, and human connections they need to more successfully navigate their career path.
Previously, Lisa was a general partner for over a decade with Cardinal Partners, a $350M+ early stage healthcare venture capital firm, where she focused on investments in healthcare technology and led the firm's investment in companies such as AthenaHealth and TechRx. Lisa worked for Procter & Gamble in various global and functional roles, including product development, purchasing, and product supply. She also worked at GE Capital and was a managing director at Circle of Beauty, a health and beauty startup. In addition, she founded her own consulting practice specializing in medium-sized consumer products companies.
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What impact did HBS have on your life and the life of others?
HBS has played a key role in my pivot to venture capital and now my new venture as an entrepreneur. Attending HBS was not part of my original plan, but it became the door that opened my dreams. After graduating from Cornell with a degree in chemical engineering, I worked for Procter and Gamble in engineering, product development, and product supply. I was recruited away to join a startup and a whole new world was revealed. I loved crafting and building a business from a blank sheet of paper, but I realized I wanted to do this for more than one company. I was and am passionate about solving problems with new and innovative solutions.
In the process of trying to figure out exactly what that looked like, I learned the valuable lesson of sponsorship and having people in your corner with different experiences and connections that are willing to invest in your success. It was a former executive from P&G who first exposed me to the idea of venture capital. I had never heard of VC and the path to breaking in wasn't clear. All I knew was that I WAS going to get there. He told me that if I wanted to increase my chances of breaking in, then I had to attend HBS given the number of people in the industry who were alums.
Fortunately HBS cooperated with my grand plan and I was accepted. I then had to convince my newlywed husband to come along as well (Mark Tatum, MBA 1998). When I arrived at HBS, I went in with a clear plan for laying the foundation to learn this new craft. As an engineer, I inherently "geek out" on tackling challenges that can change the world and for me, venture capital was that path. At HBS, I gained more than I could have ever imagined. I was not only able to meet my career goal, but I was also able to developed strong, lifelong relationships with my peers, faculty, and staff that have provided me with so much personal and professional support and guidance. In fact my first and most successful venture capital deal was a referral from an HBS professor, the godparents of our children were classmates, and many of the investors, supporters, and catalysts of my company are HBS alums. These are just some of the reasons why I feel so strongly about paying it forward and giving back.
Which leads to one of my biggest pieces of advice: Cultivate authentic relationships while you're at HBS and stay engaged with the School after you leave. I've been fortunate to serve as a section fund agent, president of the HBS Alumni Board, and now serve on the Board of Dean Advisors. I am not only able to contribute to the school, but I also continue to learn and receive inspiration each time I connect. HBS is not a two-year experience, it's a lifetime experience.
HBS also played a key role in my starting Landit. I found myself at an inflection point after over a decade as a general partner, where I wanted to combine what I loved about venture capital with my commitment to giving back to others. This inflection point coincided with the HBS W50 conference. During that event I realized how many talented women were at their own inflection point-trying to figure out how to more successfully navigate but not knowing where to start or not having access to what they needed to achieve success on their terms. I founded Landit to increase the success of everyone in the workplace and to partner with companies to offer a "one-size-fit-one" solution to invest in the development, retention, and promotion of their diverse talent. Starting Landit is by far the most rewarding and the most challenging endeavor I have ever taken on.
As an African American woman, you will undoubtedly confront workplace challenges, and it can certainly feel very isolating at times. But HBS gives you an undeniable credibility card, in addition to providing an ongoing network of support and access that is invaluable as you navigate your career.
In a sense, I've come full circle, in terms of figuring out how to achieve my dreams and goals while helping others fulfill theirs. Fortunately, HBS has been a part of that journey, every step of the way.