Elicia McDonald (Airtree)

Elicia is a partner at AirTree where she has led investments into robotic AI technology Abyss, property technology start-up :Different, and workflow software Process Street.

Prior AirTree, Elicia started her career in investment banking at Credit Suisse before eventually moving into tech at a B2B SaaS startup in Sydney and then eventually enterprise sales at LinkedIn.

On your source of ambition

I strive to have a positive impact on the people around me and that’s what drives me and gives me purpose. I often think about the quote from Maya Angelou “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I aspire for people around me to feel they are better for having known me. Whether that’s by being their trusted confidant, helping them navigate a challenging situation or supporting them to achieve their goals. That motivates me both personally and professionally.

On protecting personal time

I don’t always nail this. I can easily slip into bad habits.

Since becoming a parent, I’ve become better at compartmentalising. When I’m with my family, my universe narrows in on them. When I’m at work, it expands again. I focus on quality vs quantity of time.

I like the analogy of juggling many balls, some made of rubber and others made of glass. Each ball represents a different area of my life. It’s ok to drop some balls, just make sure they’re not the glass ones.

On your pivot

I followed a very typical path of achievement in my life until I left my first job in investment banking to join an early stage startup. I chose to chase my passions and diverge from the expectations I had for myself about what I should do. I didn’t know where I would end up, but I was ok with the ambiguity and I learnt to thrive in it.

I have no interest in simply following a set path to chase a sense of achievement. Life is way too short for that. My advice would be, if you haven’t found what you love yet, keep looking.

On a startup idea

I would love to see a local startup transforming the lived experience for our oldest and most vulnerable in society.

Watch ‘Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds’ and tell me there isn’t more we should be doing to improve the mental and physical health of our elderly.

On something you are notorious for

I’m by far the most competitive on the AirTree team.

I’m a team player but if there’s some friendly individual competition to be had, the gloves come off and it’s game on. During a recent team event, the team was asked “If you were in the AirTree Hunger Games who would you form an alliance with?”. I was the top pick. I’m not sure if I should be flattered or not because ultimately you have to back yourself to win against your ally in the end!


Connect with Elicia on LinkedIn or on Twitter @eliciakmcdonald.

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