Five Questions For … Houston Angel Network Chief Juliana Garaizar

Houston—Juliana Garaizar, managing director of the Houston Angel Network, is used to dealing with big egos and strong personalities in both the investing and tech worlds.

“If it’s up to me, I try to work as little as possible with them and be very careful with them,” she says. “If it’s not up to me, I try to make sure the relationship is very fact-based. I try to prevent things from turning into a problem of personalities, rather than a business problem by sticking to the facts.”

Garaizar has worked and lived in Europe and Asia, working in a variety of financial sector jobs, including for the financial services firm Citigroup (NYSE: C). But her strategy for dealing with difficult personalities comes in part, from experience reconciling a charismatic, globe-trotting father whose self-absorption imploded her childhood family.

“He found what he was looking for: a less independent women, someone who thought he was everything and would demonstrate that to him every day,” she says.

For our latest “Five Questions For … ,” we speak to Garaizar about the importance of humility, a piece of advice she’d offer Marie Curie, and valuing passion more than money. Here is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

Xconomy: What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Juliana Garaizar: When I was a kid, I had two ideas. One was a banker because my grandfather was the first director of the BBVA stock exchange. I was born in Bilbao, Spain, and this was when it was only BB, Bank of Bilbao. He was in the main building; it was iconic, and had an office on the top floor. I would go up there and think I want to be like granddad when I grow up.

I also wanted to be an explorer and travel the world, like on safaris. That comes from my father. Every year, he would take a month to backpack around the world. He would bring back amazing pictures. I knew all these places by heart before I ever traveled to them: Machu Picchu, India. They made me dream.

X: Where do you think your drive comes from?

JG: It comes from my mom. I have a family with very, very strong women. I’m from the Basque region of Spain; women there are normally what we call a matriarchal society because many of the men fish and are sailors so they are outside for many months at a time. The women in the family not only have to be in charge of everything in the house but [also] need to take care of the budget. My mom took care of us most of the time, so much so that my dad could go out on trips for a month without seeing us. My mom was always there; she was extremely resourceful and very resilient.

One of the things I learned from here was humility. In my family, we are pretty intellectual. My dad is an architect and lawyer; my mom is a professor. She speaks seven languages as a Latin … Next Page »

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