Sherry Coutu is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor who serves on the boards of companies, charities, and universities. She chairs or has chaired Founders4Schools, Workfinder, Raspberry Pi (Trading) and the Scaleup Institute, serves as a non-executive Director of Pearson, London Stock Exchange plc and as a Trustee of Raspberry Pi Foundation. With more than 60 angel investments, three IPO’s, and numerous JV’s and acquisitions behind her, Sherry has extensive experience in early and mid-stage companies having held senior positions in product management, research, finance, and operations. She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to entrepreneurship in the New Year’s Honours List 2013.
1. Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
That the secret of being successful was to make decisions rather than prevaricating or thinking or waiting for perfect information. Moving ahead was better than not. This was from Richard Caruso – a mentor of mine. This is similar to the advice that my good friend Reid Hoffman also gives which is to not wait for a product to be ‘perfect’, but to get it into the market – the equivalent of jumping off a cliff and building a plane on the way down’…
2. Worst piece of advice you’ve been given?
I remember in my first job that a senior colleague told me that I should never speak up in meetings because it was better to ‘hold my tongue’ and ‘fit in’, than to raise my head above the parapet or to ‘stand out’ in any way. Insane!
3. What would you tell your younger self?
Find a problem that you are passionate about solving and then recruit an extra-ordinary team around you to put that problem behind you and everyone else. It’s important to believe in what you are doing and if you don’t, find something else that you believe in.
4. What excites you most about the future of your industry?
I love the way technology allows us to solve problems that were previously unsolvable. I love the way that Founders4Schools and Workfinder are re-inventing tech platforms from to social media and recruiting industries and now solving the Learning and Development issues companies have had and revolutionizing the way schools and universities help up-skill their students so that these organisations now clearly are a part of driving economic growth in their communities.
5. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
That is a really tricky one as I am like a sponge and take inspirations from many many people. As a child growing up in Canada, my grade 5 teacher, Mrs. Cousins for telling me I could do a lot better, and as a university student in London, Dame Steve Shirley (a case study assigned on my course) for highlighting a pathway that I’d never imagined, but which was the right path for me (entrepreneurship and innovation).