“How to build a successful CVC career” with Aruna Subramaniam, 
SABIC Ventures MD

June 30, 2023
Xavier Wong

On 30 Jun 2023, CM Venture team invited a SABIC Ventures’ MD to share tips on how to scale the corporate ladder in the highly competitive CVC industry. Aruna has over 28 years of international work experience spanning a range of management functions, and has graciously made time to dial in from the Netherlands to have a live, candid sharing with our partners. We sum up the highlights of Aruna’s advice and tips here.


What core skills do you look for when building your team?
Aruna: Incumbents should have basic technical skills, commercial understanding, courage to make decisions, communication skills, incredible patience & ’thick skin’, multitasking abilities.

CVCs have many stakeholders, so communication skills must be important? How do you navigate the hierarchy?
Aruna: Start from the bottom – people who are working with the startups. Then work your way up. Go through a checklist – compliance, legal, tax etc. Be sure to avoid surprises.

What have been your best decisions made far?
Aruna: What not to invest in! Best decisions for me have been to walk-away.

Is there a certain type of personality that fits this career path, or is it something that can be developed?
Aruna: Any personality would work, but authenticity is a must.

How do you keep up with emerging trends and technologies that are relevant to a role such as yours?
Aruna: Don’t get too obsessed. Pick/curate your data sources. Customize your news alerts. Keep it fun and light – not as a chore. Download your sources and read on-the-go.

If you were to give one piece of advice to someone aspiring to be a director at a CVC firm, what would it be and why?
Aruna: Find your passion – that’s the foundation. Have a fundamentally curious mind. Listen well and be able to assimilate information quickly. Acquire a balanced combination of technical and commercial skills.

What is it like to be a woman in a male-dominated space?
Aruna: Everyone has a masculine and feminine side. Feminine behaviors are critical in today’s world – especially in terms of collaboration & empathy. Be sure – not shy – to speak up when you have a point to make that matters.

Watch the full video of Aruna’s candid online session here