Pledge 1%’s #WomenWhoLead series celebrates female leaders who are changing the world. Our leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and industries, and are all doing their part to have an impact in their communities and at their workplace. We’ve asked them to share a bit about their background and path to success.

What is your name and title?

Anna Barber, Managing Director at Techstars.

Briefly (1-2 sentences) describe your current role.

I invest in, advise and coach early stage startups at Techstars LA, which is part of the global network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. I am also a partner at The Fund LA and invest in seed and pre-seed companies there.

What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?

Being open to talking to strangers has helped my career, and also helped me grow as a person. You never know where your next great idea or opportunity will come from. Expanding your field of vision beyond people you already know is incredibly valuable.

What’s the number one challenge you face as a woman in your industry?

I am incredibly fortunate and have been lucky to get amazing opportunities in my career and to be surrounded by a strong support system.

I think in general, a subtle problem women face in the tech industry is not being in the room when new projects are coming together. When you think of the process of starting up a company or a venture fund – often these things come together as a project between friends. It’s often part of male friendship to talk about how to make money together, and less so for women.

Do you have any mentors? What does mentorship mean to you? 

The mentors I have now are different from the wonderful mentors I had early in my career. Now, I have a core group of people I call, both within my company and my larger peer group when I need help thinking through a big decision.

To me, mentorship is about supporting people to trust their own decision making. All advice is just one experience generalized, so helping people make better decisions themselves is more valuable than telling them what to do.

What advice do you have for women who are just starting their career?

Early in your career focus on building a strong network and skillset. Network and ability are much more important than resume building in today’s market.

Build a crew of friends who will support your career, while you support theirs. They may be your business partners down the road!

What women inspires you the most? Why?

My mom has always been my inspiration. She grew up in a small town in rural Virginia, and went on to get a PhD in English, move to New York and build an incredibly successful literary agency.

She had a strong moral compass and would do literally anything to support her clients. She was financially independent and an equal partner with my dad. She championed other women in all realms, but was always incredibly kind. The word I most like to describe her is fierce and I hope I’ve retained a bit of that quality myself.

Are you reading/listening to anything interesting at the moment? Please share your most recent favorite book or podcast!

I recently finished Prepared by Diane Tavenner, one of the founders of Summit Public Schools. I’m interested in how we can rethink both K-12 and higher education to better prepare students for life and work in the new global economy.