I met Lally through a mutual connection. She was introduced to me as the co-founder of The Gal’s Got Game, an awesome daily email blast that keeps busy women up-to-date on key sports news. I soon learned Lally has even more up her sleeve: she is the founder of Coco Capital (which focuses on investing in female entrepreneurs) and current CFO of Quantius (a commercial lender). Lally’s track record also includes a VP Finance role at Lavalife (she helped sell the company twice) and Nulogy.
She is thoughtful, kind, and very positive. At one point during the interview (unfortunately the question didn’t make the cut) I asked what Lally thought women – since that’s a big theme in her career – needed to improve in the context of career development. In three seconds steered the answer in a cheerful direction.
Female, male, any other gender identity in between – doesn’t matter. You’ll find so much value in this interview. And if you want to write sports features for The Gal’s Got Game, shoot me a line at email@example.com. I’ll hook you up.
Tell us about yourself!
Lally Rementilla: I am a technologist, a capitalist, and a feminist. I have spent twenty-five years in the Tech industry across different subsectors: commerce, telecom and digital media. Prior to that it was enterprise software. In December of last year I became a more active investor when I joined Quantius. On top of that I also have my personal investing practice called Coco Capital, where I invest in and advise female entrepreneurs.
How and why did you start The Gal’s Got Game?
LR: It goes back to my personal mission of advocating for women. One way to do that is to give them the tools they need to advance. Coming out of selling Lavalife in 2010, I hosted a play-date with someone that I have known for almost ten years. We were talking about what I would do next. I said I want to be involved with women’s advancement in a way that is not done currently. It should not be the usual suspects of personal branding and negotiation skills. Those are needed skills, but a lot of women’s groups are already providing that. I wanted something very unique, where I can give information to women they can use that same day, and for it to be something that will give them an edge.
My friend said she was thinking about the idea of helping women learn about sports. Sports is something that helps galvanize relationships in business and build camaraderie, and it is a great networking tool. A lot of networking happens over sports, whether over afternoon beers where people start talking sports, or a company gives away tickets to a game, or even within a company, when there are sports days. If we found a way to engage women, it would improve their networking and relationships with peers at work.
What is the sports culture like in business?
LR: In the corporate world, a lot of social and casual conversations are centered on sports. When doing the research around this we talked to a lot of people, and focused on women who work in male-dominated, competitive industries. Many women who work in the financial services industry, like brokerage firms, look at the sports pages first thing in the morning. It is one of the first topics of conversation with their boss or clients in the morning. If you know enough about sports, you are in the zone. You are in the conversations. I also met a lot of women in sales and client-facing roles. Often enough, if talking to a new or existing client, they need to have something in common with the client that is outside of business. A lot of them gravitate towards finding out what sports their clients are interested in.
Do you have advice for twenty-somethings looking to start their career?
LR: I have been very lucky in that I have worked with a few very successful companies. Underlying them all was a great culture. At end of the day it is very important to be working with people you respect who have created a culture that enables you to grow. I have been in situations where I was asked to join teams where I did not see a cultural fit, and looking back I am lucky I did not take those opportunities. Fit makes a big difference. If you are a new graduate or a student looking for new opportunities, it is very important to put that focus on fit. Otherwise it will be more difficult to be successful.
What is the best move you made in your twenties?
LR: One was doing my MBA. My undergrad was in communications; it is an arts degree. I wanted to be in business, and I wanted more grounding on the finance end. A resulting benefit of my MBA was that I was able to meet people.
I also started networking. When I first immigrated to Canada, it was all about survival: get a job, eat, sleep, get a roof over my head. Someone I worked with said one day “you should come to this event, it is put on by Canadian Women in Communications (CWC).” [Ed. Note: CWC has since rebranded to Women in Communications and Technology.] She said it is always good that you are good at your job, but if you do not meet people outside of your work, you are not building your network or creating value. She got me on the ball of meeting people in different industries. I joined the CWC, and it really opened up my perspective. Networking is all about how do you give value to others as soon as you can – not the other way around.
What tips do you have for students relating to networking?
Try to create value. Understandably when you are young in your career you can be limited by the amount of help you can give, but at the same time, when you are young and have fewer responsibilities, that is the best time you can be out meeting people and joining committees and volunteering. That teaches you a lot of things and cultivates your network. It is a long game. You may not necessarily see value in some of these volunteer activities that you do right now, but I have been at this for my 25-year career, and there are people I go back all the way with. It helps.
It gets to a point where it is not what you know, but who you know that matters. In today’s world where information can be accessed by anyone at lightning speed – thank you Google – what you know is not as relevant as who you know and who you can help with the information that you have available.
What does success mean to you?
LR: Success is about understanding what your talents are and using them to create change and goodness in as much of the world as you can. It is not about how much money you make, or how popular you are. It is really about understanding what you can do and using your strengths to make a difference in the world.
For me, looking at Coco Capital, I want by the time I turn fifty for there to be a fund I will have raised that helps finance men and women, creating a level playing field for women. That would be success to me. At the end of the day we do not know what the size that fund will be, but it does not matter. Success is using everything that I know and putting in as much as I can – time, social capital, human capital – to do that.
Have more time? Check this out: Startup Canada’s CEO Victoria Lennox on Hustle, Success & What She Learned from her First Job
There you have it folks, twenty coffees down! Only 80 to go. I hope you learned something. And to Lally, thank you for sharing with us.