Q&A with Insight's Hanel Baveja

Hanel Baveja is an incoming analyst at Insight Venture Partners, based in New York. She interned with the firm last summer. Prior to Insight, she worked for Vettery, a recruiting startup recently acquired by Adecco Group.

What led you to Insight Venture Partners?

My interest in venture capital began as an intern for Vettery, a talent recruiting startup. I was around the 25th hire when I joined, and I worked for the company while the founders were raising Vettery’s Series A round. I got to see my bosses demonstrate to VCs how funding would help their marketplace expand and reach new customers. Before I left, the startup grew to 30 employees. It’s fantastic working for a company in that early, dynamic stage but next summer I wanted to try it from the other side. So I applied for Insight Venture Partners’ summer analyst program through the Harvard job portal.

Insight recruits on campus at schools like University of Pennsylvania and Princeton. But the analyst role is open to those who hustle. I know that one of the interns just reached out to people and set up multiple phone calls with analysts and associates. Someone who expresses interest, regardless of school, definitely has a shot at becoming an analyst.

What was the internship like?

I loved it. Insight was a great fit for me and I think the size of the firm and size of the team were key. As an intern, you’re staffed on an investment team made up of analysts, associates, partners, and principals. A typical team is 7–9 people. I received a lot of mentorship from every level. Beyond that, the work was creative. Even as an intern, you have the opportunity to source startups, reach out to founders/CEOs, and attend conferences.

Insight has such a supportive and encouraging environment. You’re given a lot of independence to explore what you’re interested in and the members of the team are always curious to hear your thoughts.

Did you end up focusing on any particular markets or industries during your internship?

I ended up talking to a lot of founders but I didn’t realize I would be so interested in education tech. Edtech makes learning more accessible; these companies help teachers and administrators do their jobs better. Insight has been on the frontline of this disrupting this industry, leading rounds for companies like Udemy.

I also explored investment opportunities in healthcare. My advice is to look at any market and see how you can impact those businesses with software and technology.

What skills did you bring to Insight from school and your previous internships?

One thing that was small but important was empathy. I felt like I could really connect with founders because of my experience at Vettery. I had seen my former bosses and the blood, sweat, and tears that go into building a company. They’re at the office everyday, on call 24/7. It gave me a better understanding and appreciation of the struggles that a founder faces. When CEOs asked questions or sought advice about funding and other challenges, they wanted feedback. My work at Vettery helped me tackle those conversations.

What kinds of backgrounds did you find at Insight? Were there any best-suited for positions at the firm?

There was such a spectrum of backgrounds at Insight. In the intern class, there were many with technology and finance backgrounds; people who had worked in S&T or interned at Microsoft and Google. That was pretty consistent among analysts and associates. As for partners, many were from big consulting firms like McKinsey. What appealed to me about VC was that it’s a mix of all three: finance, technology, and consulting. From an investment perspective, you’re running models and conducting compliance and due diligence. But venture capital isn’t just writing a check. You also need to care about software and how technology companies are run. We’re holding portfolio companies for years — a big piece of the work and value-add is helping grow the company. That’s the consulting side.

Tell me a little bit about firm culture. What makes Insight unique?

Like I said earlier, working on an investment team is great. Every team is different, so you might have meetings every week or every other week. This is where I learned the most: everyone comes to pitch companies, talk about ideas, or discuss market moves. I was blown away by the senior partners. They can spend a couple of minutes learning about a company and its market, and form an insightful opinion.

You get to know your colleagues as friends and mentors outside of the office. For example, a partner invited us to their summer home to spend time with their family. We also had plenty of social events for the interns like Escape the Room, barbecues with partners, and trips to sporting events. These outings helped me develop close personal relationships especially with some women at Insight.

Did you receive guidance and support from female analysts, associates, partners or other mentors?

I’ll admit that was something I was nervous about given what everyone hears about tech and VC. But at Insight, I had great mentors and leaders. They were approachable and made me feel welcome from the beginning. I connected closely with one woman who became a mentor. We’d sit together every week; it was a chance to build my skills, discuss ideas, and run things by her before bringing them up at full team meetings.

Everyone at the firm reflects a culture of ‘let’s do this together.’ They realize that the more we collaborate and share information, the better the results for Insight.

I know you’re returning full-time as an analyst. Congratulations! What led you to that decision?

I signed the day I received the offer. I knew I wanted to grow at a firm like Insight. Before the internship, I was considering a career in VC or consulting. I thought consulting would be an ideal way to work and gain experience in multiple sectors. But VC has given me that opportunity as well. And after the incredible internship, I knew I wanted to join as an analyst.

What advice would you give to young women in VC or looking to join VC?

Don’t let the idea of venture capital intimidate you. I definitely felt conscious of the fact that I never studied finance or took a computer science class. But I’m glad that I had people who pushed and encouraged me to apply. Above all, a firm like Insight values your curiosity. You must have this drive to learn… the other skills, they can teach you along the way. It’s evident in the hiring process that they’re not only looking for the technical credentials. They want people who genuinely love startups and software; they want people who are interested in how technology can change the world. Don’t let fears of being underqualified stop you from looking at a career in venture capital.