Years in Tech
Founder and Managing Director, The Chrysalis Co
Strategy and execution plan. I am the person that you tell your dreams to and then I distill it into what is actionable and when and think of everything that can go wrong and help you plan against that. I also know how to engage with different types of investors and structure creative deals so we always end up in a win/win situation. Basically, I know how to turn that idea to a real, bankable business.
14th December 2018
Nichole Yembra is the founder and Managing Director of The Chrysalis Co.
Nichole began her career at Ernst & Young LLP, Atlanta where she specialized in risk and process transformation across several sectors including oil and gas, consumer products, manufacturing, quick service restaurants, and financial services.
Nichole is a member of the Inaugural Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa Class and serves as both Council of 8 Member and Non Executive Board Member for the Shared Value Africa Initiative. She also serves as a mentor for Google Launchpad Africa and an Advisor to The Cortex Hub, a South African incubator. As a champion for women in leadership and technology, she founded the Garden Women’s Network which promotes the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in the VGG ecosystem and GreenHouse Lab which is Nigeria’s first female-focused tech accelerator and the first and only “Powered by Google” accelerator in Africa. In 2017, she was named by Forbes Africa as one of the Most Promising Entrepreneurs under 30. In 2018, Most Influential People of African Descent under 40 (MIPAD 100), a global civil society initiative whose efforts are in recognition of the UN-backed International Decade for People of African Descent, named Nichole amongst its 2018 honorees for business and entrepreneurship inside Africa.
Nichole also serves with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and was the Program Director for College MAP, a program providing underserved youth with tools to access university. She is an alumna of the Kenan Flagler Business School at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a graduate from the Masters in Accounting program at Wake Forest University, and a licensed CPA.
Nichole enjoys weight lifting, yoga, and barre and balances that with her love for cooking and baking and exploring different countries through food.
What experiences led you to technology and how did you develop the skills to compete in the industry?
Since childhood I have pretty much exclusively read fiction and more specifically mysteries and thrillers. By college, I knew that I loved solving problems, so I went into Risk Advisory at Ernst & Young to learn better frameworks for solving problems. With EY, I served clients in 19 countries across a huge range of sectors and always found solutions moving the levers of people, process, and technology. So although I’ve only been a part of the African tech scene for just under 3 years, my consulting work always referred to technology as a means to solve companies’ problems. I am an avid researcher and get a bit obsessive about concepts, so I studied a lot of different companies and models and then I get to put it in practice everyday across VGG’s 7 companies and GreenHouse Capital’s 14 portfolio companies as well.
How has your background helped/differentiated you in the tech industry?
Working in consulting, you learn to view problems as universal so coming into Nigeria, while I appreciate the unique complexities of this market, I constantly draw parallels to problems or solutions I’ve seen work (or fail) around the world. That ability to draw similarities and then localize for this market and sector are what differentiate me.
What advice would you give to women considering a career in technology? What do you wish you had known?
Technology is an enabler and not the solution. Whether your passion is in education, fashion, manufacturing, or food, technology can enable its growth so it is relevant and applicable to everyone! You don’t have to be a coder or CTO to be a woman in tech; you can hold any role within a tech company including finance and the all critical operations and still be a woman in tech.
Any other thoughts on women in technology?
When researchers studied why women entrepreneurs failed, a recurring theme was lack of confidence. Dr Amy Cuddy in her TED talk re-coined the phrase “Fake it till you become it” and it has really motivated me in this tech space and especially in its leadership. I’ve spun that mantra to fake it and work hard till you become it. Your mind is the only thing holding you back.