The Health Tech Podcast

To mark the launch of Crista Galli Ventures, our founder Dr Fiona Pathiraja, joined fellow doctorpreneur and podcast host Dr James Somauroo as a guest on The Health-Tech Podcast. They talked all-things healthcare – from forging early careers in the NHS; an inherent passion for learning and development; and why the desire to create change in healthcare led Fiona to launch her own VC fund.

No run-of-the-mill career

James and Fiona discussed her extensive career in healthcare and how, like many change-makers, her trajectory has often strayed beyond the well-trodden path.

After studying medicine at UCL and working as a junior doctor at University College London Hospital (UCLH), Fiona explained how her desire to be a part of the ‘bigger picture’ prompted her to take a break from the medicine and work as a management consultant. 

During her time in consulting, she worked with major clients including the Department for International Development (DFID) before working at the Department of Health as clinical advisor to the then NHS Medical Director, Sir Bruce Keogh, delivering national policy projects. Fiona discusses her curiosity to learn how hospitals are run and how government policy impacts the ever-changing NHS landscape. 

But, it wasn’t long before Fiona felt the lure of medicine once more, deciding it was time to return to specialise in radiology at UCLH.

Building a network

With aspirations of eventually becoming a hospital CEO, Fiona embarked on an MBA at London Business School during her final year of radiology training to upskill in new areas such as financial accounting, management and strategy.  

As one of only two people on the MBA from a public sector background, Fiona took her time to find her feet in this new environment. However, her unique skill set and background opened up dialogue with her peers and led to the development of a strong international network that she is still active in today. 

James asked whether an MBA is something she would recommend to others – Fiona talks passionately about how it benefited her and explains that she was genuinely surprised to find it such a collaborative, rather than competitive, environment. 

Transitioning to investing

Talking about their shared experiences as ambitious junior doctors in the NHS, Fiona and James both acknowledge the challenges that come with working in such a large, process-driven organisation. When she became a consultant radiologist, Fiona realised it could take her years – if not decades – to make real, tangible changes in hospital management and she decided her future lay outside the NHS. 

Recognising the invaluable role technology has to play in the future of healthcare, Fiona wanted to work with startups spearheading the latest healthcare solutions. Her experience on the NHS frontline means she is uniquely placed to identify companies with the potential to truly benefit the way healthcare professionals work. 

And so, Crista Galli Ventures was born. As one of a small, but growing, number of specialist healthtech VC funds across the world, Crista Galli Ventures invests primarily at seed and series A. Pan-European in their operations, Crista Galli Ventures  has already backed founders in seven countries across Europe. 

As Fiona explained to James, in the world of investment, no two days are the same – something she thrives on – and how, as a small but agile organisation, they are able to not only provide the much-needed capital for these businesses, but can impart extensive medical and business knowledge too.

Championing inclusivity in healthtech

To close the session, Fiona shared her vision for the future of Crista Galli Ventures and healthtech. She explained her next goal is to help address the historic lack of gender and ethnic representation amongst healthtech founders and investors. A firm believer that it’s not enough to simply call for change, Fiona has already set about making it happen through the launch of Crista Galli LABS. 

Although Crista Galli Ventures’ core-focus is on investing at Seed and Series A, the firm will invest at pre-seed stage through Crista Galli LABS.

LABS has diversity, equality and inclusion at its very heart, with aspirations to ensure that at least half of these investments are made into companies led by founders from diverse backgrounds. To further their potential impact, all successful LABS companies will receive access to expert advice and mentoring from the CGV team and advisors. 

To hear James and Fiona’s full episode, you can listen to The Health Tech Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.

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