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The Lighthouse

A place for diverse founders, builders, and funders

The Lighthouse is an ongoing fireside-chat series from Leap by McKinsey focused on lifting up and celebrating diverse entrepreneurs, founders, business builders, and funders.

Latest episode


Speaking up, being heard, and making it to the top

In this episode of the Lighthouse we talk with lawyer, entrepreneur, and NFL team president Sandra Douglass Morgan. She spoke with McKinsey partner Julie Gilbert and consultant Shayne Skov about falling in love with law as a first-generation college student, her influential and high-profile positions in the public and private sectors, and her current role at the helm of the Las Vegas Raiders football team. She is the National Football League’s first Black woman team president.

Previous episodes


Persevering through ‘no’ to succeed

In this episode of the Lighthouse series, we talk with Bahram Akradi, the founder, chair, and CEO of Life Time, a health and fitness company. In this discussion with McKinsey partner Julie Gilbert, Akradi talks about how leaving Iran to study aeronautical engineering led to building a national chain of athletic clubs, living centers, a digital platform, products and services, and an events portfolio.

The ‘if not now, then when’ approach to business building

In this episode of the Lighthouse we talk with Monalisa Zwambila, the founder and CEO of Riverbed, South Africa's largest advertising agency. She spoke with McKinsey partner Julie Gilbert and practice manager Adjatay Nyadjroh about the life challenges that inspired her to launch a company based on her conviction that respectful and caring workplace relations lead to greater business success.

Sistering up: Building women’s financial wellness

In this episode of the Lighthouse, we talk with founder, investor, philanthropist, and changemaker Jacki Zehner. She spoke with McKinsey’s Julie Gilbert and Roselyn Cason-Marcus about being the first female trader at Goldman Sachs to make partner, her work to support women on their journey to financial freedom, and why funding Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) founders and fund managers is so important.

Pulling each generation into greater opportunity

In this episode of the Lighthouse we talk with Peter Braxton, the managing director for investor relations at Akoya Capital. In this discussion with McKinsey's Julie Gilbert and Tawanda Sibanda, Peter shares his experience of being an Air Force pilot on 9/11, bringing a multicultural view to seizing opportunity, and taking a more inclusive mindset on value creation in the private capital markets.

Capitalizing on integrity's compounding effects

In this episode of the Lighthouse we talk with Eric Reeves, the managing director and head of private capital investments at Duchossois Capital Management. In his discussion with McKinsey's Julie Gilbert and Grace Kamara, Reeves talks about how integrity and accountability inform his work in private equity.

The hard work of getting what you want

In this episode of the Lighthouse, Rumiko Hasegawa, retired Goldman Sachs partner and managing director, talks with McKinsey partner Julie Gilbert and recruiting director Roselyn Cason-Marcos. Hasegawa shares her experiences of being one of few women executives in Japan at the time and of founding More Than Musical, a Hong Kong–based arts advocacy organization dedicated to making opera more accessible.

A commitment to service

In this episode of the Lighthouse series, we talk with Dr. Chris Howard, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Arizona State University, A Public Enterprise. In this discussion with McKinsey's Julie Gilbert and Adjatay Nyadjroh, Howard talks about his career as a leader of universities and about learning and inclusivity in the United States.

The need for more diverse capital allocators

In this episode of the Lighthouse series, we talk with four entrepreneurs about expanding access to capital. Danny Ball is co-founder and managing partner of the operator-investment firm Bruin Point Partners, Deborah Choi is co-founder and managing director of Founderland, Harold Mills is CEO of VMD Ventures, and Grathel Motau is group financial director of the Black-owned South African investment firm Thebe Investment Corporation.

An engineered approach to advancing economic opportunity

In this episode of the Lighthouse, we talk with entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert F. Smith, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a leading investment firm specializing in enterprise software. In his discussion with McKinsey Senior Partner Shelley Stewart III and Partner Julie Gilbert, Smith describes how his upbringing shaped his views on racial equity and what he sees as the greatest opportunities for eliminating wealth disparity.

Tackling poverty through housing and health

In this episode of the Lighthouse series, we talk with Myung Lee, president and CEO of Volunteers of America-Greater New York. An adviser to not-for-profit organizations, Lee has long worked to serve low-income communities and promote democracy, and seeks to bring new business building to the work of ending homelessness.

Powering through and up as Black women founders

In this episode of the Lighthouse series, we talk with four founders about overcoming start-up challenges. Sanyade Okoli is CEO of Alpha African Advisory, Lisa-Marie Monsanto is a partner with Rimon, April Johnson is founder and CEO of Happied, Michele Ozumba is CEO of Michele Ozumba and Associates, and Shirley Billot is founder and CEO of Kadalys.

Helping live music survive through crisis

In this episode of the Lighthouse series, we talk with Dayna Frank, president and CEO of First Avenue Productions, about helping live music venues survive the pandemic shutdowns by starting a trade association to lobby Congress for passage of the largest arts funding legislation in American history.

The opportunity for Latin American founders

In this episode of the Lighthouse series, we we talk with Luisa Fuentes, founder and CEO of Rayito De Sol schools; Ignacio Salgués, founder and CEO of Inviu; and Bárbara González Briseño, CFO of Bitso, on the experience of being Latin American founders, the opportunity available, and just how key talent is to success.

Changes in health and wellness

In this episode of the Lighthouse series, we talk with Efonda Sproles, vice president of Life Time; Dr. Verna Price, founder and president of Power of the People Consulting Group; Jeremy Hills, president of Kollective; Carla Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Canary Telehealth; and Dr. Emeka Ofobike Jr., co-owner and medical director of Vessel Longevity, to share their experiences and challenges faced in the health and wellness space, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The shifting funding landscape

In this episode of the Lighthouse series, we talk with Yumi Mera Kuwana, founding principal at Cook Pine Capital LLC; Heather Redman, co-founder and managing partner of Flying Fish Capital; Ann Winblad, founding partner of Humming Winblad; Ashif Mawji, venture partner at Rising Tide; and Gina Lee Peyton, partner and head of capital formation at Castlelake, on the challenges and shifts in the funding space during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding for societal impact

In this episode of the Lighthouse series, we talk with Jacki Zehner, angel investor and founder of ShePlace; Laura Gonzalez-Estafani, founder and CEO of TheVentureCity; Judith Aidoo-Saltus, founder of Caswell Capital Partners Ghana Limited; and Eva Ho, general partner at Fika Ventures and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at City of Los Angeles, on funding for societal impact and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

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