The Super Seven: Meet Blackbird’s Seven New Associates
We are thrilled to introduce you to the next generation of Blackbird’s investment team.
From backgrounds as broad as elite sport, quantum chemistry, and biotech, Christie, Clare, James, Mason, Max, Nicole, and Silk are going to supercharge Blackbird’s ability to meet more wild hearts with wild ideas, right at the beginning.
Christie Jenkins (Melbourne)
Christie is a Partner at Athletic Ventures, a Startmate Fellow and First Believer. Prior to that she had a decade of management consulting experience, working with companies like ANZ, CBA, Bupa and Virgin. Christie holds a double degree in Economics and Arts from Monash University, and was dux of her school with an ATAR of 99.85.
Christie has been ranked number one in Australia and top ten in the world in three different sports - trampolining, CrossFit and beach volleyball. She speaks and writes on the topic of high performance psychology, and how to apply an elite sport mindset to business. Her passion for travel and sports career has helped her visit more than 40 countries. She even spent a year living on a tropical island, working in the circus!
Clare Birch (Sydney)
Clare was on her way to start a PhD before joining Blackbird as our Scientist in Residence. Her work at Blackbird is about throwing open the doors to our best and brightest deep technical talent, which she will continue to nurture through her role as Associate.
Clare was previously the Programs Coordinator (and first employee) at DeadlyScience, a nonprofit providing STEM resources to remote and Indigenous students. She holds a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) from the University of Sydney, where she was awarded a University Medal for her Honours research designing methods for quantum computers to simulate chemistry. She also advocated for student rights as an elected member of USyd’s Faculty of Science and Academic Boards, was a high school teacher’s aide in learning support, and in her free time, she watches bad TV, bakes good cakes, and occasionally plays netball.
James Palmer (Aotearoa)
James has journeyed through several finance roles before joining the Blackbird investment team. He started his career in corporate banking, then cut his teeth investing as a member of the Corporate Development team at Todd Corporation.
His most recent role at NZ Growth Capital Partners has stimulated his love for venture capital, providing him a platform to invest in Aotearoa’s best venture funds (Blackbird among them) and directly into exciting companies like Author It, Kry10 and Zenno Astronautics. Australian born, NZ bred, James is an avid NBA and F1 fan.
Mason Yates (Sydney)
Mason has been a Blackbird Wild Heart since 2018 when he started with us as Portfolio Intelligence Analyst. Since then, he’s supported our investment team to deploy $600M of capital, become one of Startmate’s top mentors (and was promoted to Partner in the Sydney 2020 cohort), and launched Wild Hearts, a podcast dedicated to sharing the stories from the founders looking to change the world and the investors backing them. Today, Wild Hearts has over 40,000 listeners and has given our portfolio companies the exposure to hire hundreds of employees.
Prior to joining Blackbird, Mason was a data analyst at Zip & Co and graduated with a Bachelor of Business degree from the University of Technology, Sydney. Having built many of the early versions of our portfolio data reporting tools, in his new role as Associate, Mason will turn his attention outward to the founder community.
Max Meyer (Melbourne)
Max hails from Adelaide, but over the past 5 years he has ventured across Australia’s eastern seaboard from Sydney to the Gold Coast, and more recently Brisbane. In 2016, Max began his working life as a deckhand onboard a superyacht. In this role, he met some of Australia’s most ambitious founders and fell in love with Australia’s booming startup ecosystem.
Over the past 18 months, Max worked as an associate at Sprint Ventures, a Brisbane based venture capital firm. At Sprint, Max helped make investments in companies such as YouPay and Hayylo. He’s an avid lover of tennis, basketball and golf, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) and Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) from Bond University, where he was the youngest ever Valedictorian.
Nicole Marino (Melbourne)
Nicole started out as an assistant at Simonds Homes, working her way up to a sales consultant at 19. To generate business, she tried everything from cold calling to going door to door. Since then, she’s worked at a hedge fund, J.P. Morgan, and most recently in AustralianSuper’s investment team.
Nicole grew her love of numbers through a Bachelor of Commerce with Honours in Economics from The University of Melbourne. She complements this with a voracious reading habit, a love of post rock and metal music, and a keen sense of adventure, travelling around the world and practicing her foreign language skills.
Silk Kadala (Sydney)
Before becoming an investor, Silk grew her experience and empathy for founders as a startup operator and consultant. She was the CEO of a pre-skilling startup (WAUC), a Product Analyst at a VC-backed MedTech company (Brandon Capital/OncoRes Medical), and a Management Consultant at a global strategy firm (Kearney) working on projects across Australia and the USA.
Silk grew up in New Zealand (and remains a proud Kiwi!), then moved to Perth where she completed a Triple Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, Neuroscience and Psychology at The University of Western Australia. Now based in Sydney, she escapes outdoors as often as possible to enjoy camping, surfing and snowboarding.
When we advertised the Associate positions, we called for three voracious learners with the courage to venture into the unknown. We got more than we bargained for! We found a cohort of seven incredible Blackbirds whose experiences, rich and diverse beyond our wildest expectations, challenged us to chart a bolder path for the firm that we hope to become.
We can’t wait to watch as Christie, Clare, James, Mason, Max, Nicole and Silk connect with the Australian, and Kiwi founders that will define our shared future.
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