Meet the Team: Kora-Lynah Abelard

Q&A with Silicon Foundry’s Associate

What were you doing just prior to joining Foundry?

Following a two-year rotational program within GE’s industrial and digital businesses, I joined the GE Ventures’ Commercial Development Team to bolster and lead the Edge program. This initiative was designed to accelerate commercial growth among portfolio companies by offering a platform of tailored services: founder-to founder coaching, access to coveted events, targeted exposure and networking, counsel from industry-recognized experts, operational infrastructure support and more.

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I forged a strategic partnership between GE Ventures and IDEO CoLab to create Flux, a resource platform for founders and venture capitalists looking to build inclusive teams. We designed a collaborative research process to understand the critical challenges hindering diversity in startups and venture capital teams. Through a series of design workshops, we surfaced the fundamental challenges and new approaches to create an inclusive innovation ecosystem. The project produced a collection of resources for fostering Diversity Equity and Inclusion — including case studies gathered from companies and public resources created by startups, investors, consultancies and nonprofits.

How’d you choose this role for your next professional adventure?

Over the last few years working in strategic corporate venture, my passion for entrepreneurship deepened, as did my craving to help startups reach their full potential. I decided the best way to help companies grow was to expose them to the full array of resources available to them in the commercial marketplace, not just those endorsed by closed-circuit entities. Attracted to Silicon Foundry’s impartial and open approach to connecting innovators to industries, I’m now able to genuinely power up my efforts with result-yielding services that create real value for corporates, entrepreneurs, investors and luminaires, alike. Also, I found the idea of joining a startup itself and helping shape it from the ground up wildly awakening.

What “superpower” do you bring to the team?

My friends tell me that I’m an inventive cook. I enjoy creating meals out of seemingly unrelated ingredients available on-hand at the spur of the moment. Instead of treating ingredients as independent components each used for a specific purpose, I tend to take a more integrated and imaginative view of what’s possible. In the business world, where data and resources are often limited, I employ a similar sense of inventiveness. My ability to craft a way forward in the absence of information or cook up a work product with little direction enables my colleagues and clients to advance toward a desired outcome.

Unlike a recipe intended to produce the exact result every time, there is no cookie-cutter process for serving a client’s needs, especially muddled by the nuances of each sector we serve. To overcome this dynamic, I rely on my versatility and resourcefulness to connect the dots, take action and create. Still early in my career, it is yet to be seen whether or not this is truly my superpower, however I can say reflection like this certainly gives me food for thought.

What’s a particular example of a great corporate innovation or transformation process that you’ve seen in your past work?

In light of fierce competition from Amazon, Walmart is being forced to transform from a brick-and-mortar retailer to an e-commerce technology company, punctuated by recent acquisitions (e.g Jet.com, Shoebuy.com, Moosejaw, Bonobos, ModCloth, Eloquii, Bare Necessities, Cornerstone and Parcel), further building out its reach in footwear, outdoor gear, private-label fashion and same-day delivery services. Walmart also partnered with Microsoft and Google to accelerate digital innovation and improve the customer experience via voice-activated shopping and other services. I am impressed by Walmart’s ability as the world’s largest retailer to pivot and compete in the ever-competitive digital marketplace. Walmart continues to drive real commercial value to existing and new customer segments, proving its stature as one of the world’s most innovative companies.

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