At The Spike Lab we work tirelessly to build a team of world-class coaches. This is part of a series of coach profiles blog posts introducing them to you.
Anna Neverova is the Founder and CEO of Phi Networks, a platform that supports founding teams and fast-growing startups by sourcing talent and capital. She is an experienced investor with a background in private credit and structured finance, including over 12 years in finance positions at MIO Partners, UBS Investment Bank, and Amur Capital Management. Anna focuses on private markets and principal investing opportunities that leverage big data and technology to create value, scale businesses and build new categories.
Anna earned a Masters from Stanford Graduate School of Business. There she was selected Class President and focused her studies on Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital. Anna received her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Bard College, where she received a full scholarship as a Levy Economics Scholar. She currently serves on the Bard Alumni Board of Governors and on the iMentor Young Executive Board. Raised in Moscow, Tokyo, and New York, Anna now lives in New York City.
1) Why did you become a coach with The Spike Lab?
I became a coach for The Spike Lab because I care deeply about building human connections and believe that by growing others we grow ourselves. I aspire to support emerging entrepreneurs as a coach, trusted adviser and investor. I have a strong conviction that every person has a unique talent, their very own superpower that will allow them to thrive; live an authentic, purpose-driven life; and make the world a little better. My Spike – aka my startup – is closely aligned with my belief in recognizing early potential in emerging founders, and I feel extremely lucky to be working with inspiring students and diving deep to understand their unique strengths and aspirations. My coaching philosophy is informed by the ideas of Kaizen, growth mindset and grit, and I try to encourage students to pursue their audacious goals, cultivate diverse relationships and develop reframing skills along the way. Ultimately, what motivates me is the desire to serve and inspire grounded in empathy and my own journey as a mentee and coachee for over ten years. From my very first hedge fund internship in New York to the VP role at a fast growing investment holding company, I have benefited tremendously from advice and growth opportunities shared with me over the years. I feel truly privileged and energized by the opportunity to share my learnings with The Spike Lab’s students and help them discover their innate superpowers and sense of purpose.
2) What is your proudest professional achievement?
I like to think it’s yet to come… as an early-stage entrepreneur, I know the journey ahead is long and the road is hard, and I need to accomplish so much more than what I have accomplished already. My proudest professional moments center around connecting people and creating opportunities for growth; for example, connecting NALA, the first Tanzanian company that ever got into Y Combinator, with their future COO; working with the premier credit investors in New York to raise capital for a leading property tech company; and advising Silicon Valley startup founders on how to recruit top growth talent and find strategic capital providers around the globe. But what is more important to me is the belief that neither my past my accomplishments nor my past failures define me – instead they refine me, inspire me, energize me.
3) If you could give one piece of advice to your high school self, what would it be?
“Surround yourself with people who are better than you and don’t try to change them,” – it is actually the advice I heard from Warren Buffett when I met him two years ago, and I believe it could apply to both my high school self and my entrepreneur self. Growing up in three distinct parts of the world – Moscow, Tokyo and New York, I learned first-hand that our strength lies in diversity of thinking and backgrounds and that our beliefs, ideas, and talents need to be challenged in order to continue to evolve. My high school education was very structured and academically rigorous but didn’t offer as much room for exploration or lateral thinking. I wish I challenged myself more to explore ambiguity, step out of my comfort zone and solicit feedback.
I have grown the most when I took risks, became vulnerable with people who are “better” and different than me and embraced their feedback as a gift. Unlike most of my high school classmates pursuing more focused and structured university programs in Europe, I decided to pursue liberal arts education in the US. On top of it, I knew very little about the actual college application process and didn’t have a college counselor. This experience certainly forced me to get out of my element, take initiative and embrace the unknown. I was so lucky to meet wonderful educators and mentors whose backgrounds and experiences were fundamentally different from mine but whose guidance and kindness ultimately had the biggest impact on my academic pursuit and my life. Empathy, listening and collaboration skills have become as critical for my personal growth and entrepreneurial journey as ambition, competitive spirit and sense of ownership. Instead of trying to change people and circumstances, I now strive to learn from them, leverage our different talents and build on what brings us together instead of what brings us apart.
4) How did you choose Bard for undergrad?
When conducting school research, I spent countless hours exploring college websites and speaking to admission programs but found it especially insightful to interview current students and alumni from my target schools to understand their true school spirit and campus life “vibes”. This process offered a room for exploration and reflection and helped me realize I was drawn to liberal arts colleges for their interdisciplinary learning and focus on academic excellence. Bard stood out for me for its commitment to combating injustice through education. Its rigorous core curriculum, focus on critical thinking, and numerous opportunities to work closely with world class faculty and study in a small class setting were important to me. And because my graduating high school class had less than 25 students and I always enjoyed smaller classes, tutorials and seminars, Bard programs resonated with me deeply.
When I finally visited Bard, I had a chance to speak directly with professors and learn that every student at Bard has an academic advisor and is required to conduct independent research work as part of their Senior Project experience. The geeky side of me was quite excited to pursue a big research project as a senior (I ended up conducting a year-long research study on the Japanese Industrial Policy using a novel dataset) and the people side was thrilled to be surrounded by globally-minded students passionate about impact and committed to learning, creativity and exploration. As an incoming international student, I appreciated Bard’s global programs and openness. At that moment, I knew it was truly the right school for me. But my education at Bard would have not been possible without a scholarship. Bard made it possible. I received a full tuition merit based scholarship every academic year, and am forever indebted for its generosity and the impact this small place in upstate New York continues to have on my life.
Learn more about our coaches here.