Ha Nguyen promoted to Partner at McRock Capital
You’ve likely heard variations of this story many times over. An immigrant landing in Canada with not much more than a suitcase, a dream and a whole lot of guts. This version of the story hits really close to home for McRock. It’s about our newest partner, Ha Nguyen. You read that right. Partner! Ha has described herself in the past as lucky–lucky the stars aligned for her to make her dream of a career in venture capital far from home a reality. We all know luck had nothing to do with it. Smart. Tenacious. Incredibly brave. Those attributes ensured she was ready when opportunity came knocking.
Ha was born in Vietnam to a middle-class family in a generation that had yet to escape from the influence of Confucianism. Back then, she was expected to stay with her parents until she married, then start a family of her own before 30, leaving any professional career behind. Can you imagine the courage it took to challenge that paradigm? Ha believed there was something more for her. She knew she could make her own destiny. That living her best life meant achieving more than what others expected of her. She took the leap, moving away from home, to a country halfway around the world.
“I remember the first night in Toronto, a city 7,000-miles away from my hometown,” says Ha. “It was a summer night but much cooler than summer in Hanoi. I lay on the floor of an almost empty room. I missed the safe and cosy feeling of my bed in Vietnam, the routine pleasure of my old life; and I wondered if I had made a mistake coming to Canada.”
This isn’t a story of overnight success. The first few months were hard for Ha. No family or friends around for support. Jobs in VC were hard to come by. She was even having trouble landing a spot in retail banking. Then her journey took a positive turn when she met a gentleman from a large Canadian pension fund at a trade fair for recent immigrants. He would not hire her (his loss in hindsight, am I right?) but he told her about an amazing woman he previously worked with in London who now ran a VC fund in Canada. Can you guess who that woman was? McRock Capital co-founder Whitney Rockley didn’t make the same mistake as the pension fund guy when she met Ha in 2016. We hired her shortly thereafter as an Associate.
As much as we’d like to insert ourselves into Ha’s story, her successes were all her own. She was (and still is) driven and ambitious. She didn’t come this far to only go this far. That first job with McRock was just a distance marker on the journey, not the final destination. In 2018 she was promoted from Associate to Vice President and moved to Calgary to head up McRock’s western office. Ha has driven some amazing investments at McRock, including bringing ThoughtTrace into the portfolio. She contributed to its management and was involved in its successful sale to Thomson Reuters, fewer than two years after that initial investment. She was also key in identifying and investing in category leaders such as Edmonton-based Samdesk and California-based Landing AI. She has been pivotal in shaping the strategy for our next fund and is a notable figure in the VC community, respected by co-investors and entrepreneurs alike.
Think this is where Ha’s story ends? Think again. In 2022, she received her Canadian Citizenship. And she also just got promoted to Partner at McRock, a short six years and thousands of miles from where she began her journey to create her own destiny.
Again…this isn’t about us…(humble brag alert)…but Ha’s promotion makes McRock one of the very few investment firms with more female investment decision makers than male. It’s a big deal. We know we said luck had no place in this story, but come on…how lucky are we Ha came to us when she did? And as much as she learned from her experience on the McRock team, we are continually learning from her, including what it means to chart one’s own course.
“We share stories about those who make it through, and how much better their lives become,” Ha reflected not long ago. “Yet, by doing so, we create another formulated plot of the happy ending, in which we tend to ignore the parts that involve constant pains, conflicts and adversity. Indeed, all those untold sufferings are the essential forces that drive us to expand our thoughts, and eventually break us free.”
What will Ha do next? Only she knows. But damn…we’re immensely proud to have a front-row seat to witness it.