Jenny Lee ’01

Scott Dorsey

Jenny Lee ’01

Staying ahead of the pack

Considered the world's top female tech VC, Jenny Lee '01 turns fledgling ideas into game-changers

To say Jenny Lee has a knack for identifying great business opportunities is an understatement.

As a managing partner at GGV Capital, Lee has made a name for herself finding, developing and growing companies out of China's everexpanding tech industry.

How much of a name? The Shanghai-based Lee was the first woman ever to crack the Forbes Midas List for top tech venture capital investors worldwide.

Since joining the Menlo Park, California-based VC firm in 2005, Lee has built a track record of finding opportunities within China's consumer internet and digital media sectors. Some of her most successful deals include investing in social media platform YY, which went public on the Nasdaq back in 2012, and smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi, which is now the fourth largest smartphone company in the world.

But ask Lee how she finds the "next big thing," and her answer is surprising. "It's all about the problems," she says. "We're in the business of finding talented entrepreneurs working on new ideas and new business models."

A self-professed "geek" who worked on fighter planes and drones prior to Kellogg, Lee attributes her success to the MBA education she received in Evanston. It gave her both the strategic-thinking skills needed to identify emerging trends and the team-building abilities required to help direct young entrepreneurs as they move from fledgling idea to product launch.

"We have to spend time with the entrepreneurs, helping them think through strategic decisions, why we finance, bringing in the right people, when to enter a new market," Lee says. "The managerial, strategic thinking that we can bring to that — I think Kellogg excels at that."

So far, the results speak for themselves.