Mind Over Matter

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CHRIS WALKER
Principal – HarbourVest Partners 

D

on’t ever doubt yourself.

“There is no way I am quitting” I had to say it out loud.

It was our second day of Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola Florida. They had just shaved our heads. That was the day I decided I would never quit.

I knew it was going to be hard as I was an academically average finance student from the northeast whose family had no military experience, and the Navy Aviation Candidate school is one of the toughest programs in the military. But how could I go home with a shaved head saying to my friends and family that I quit or I failed? I had so many people who wanted to see me become a naval aviator, so many people rooting for me.

“There’s no way I’m quitting.”

That became my mantra. I had to rely on determination and self belief, because unlike others in boot camp, I had no background in engineering, aerodynamics, or flying. I couldn’t be the best student, but I could be the most determined.

The fast paced academics, physical requirements, and continued military drilling was very difficult and the class soon thinned out. Some were asked to leave due to poor academics, a failed physical, or injury, while some voluntarily quit due to the stress. In the end, we only graduated 15 of our original class of 60.

I was one of them.

After I graduated, I then went on to flight school and ultimately flew P-3 Orions for the Navy for eleven years and exited as a Lieutenant Commander. It all started with a decision not to quit.

“I couldn’t be the best student, but I could be the most determined.”

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Lessons learned – It’s amazing what motivates us to keep going (a shaved head??!!, being labeled as a quitter??!!) It helps to have a good reason to be accountable.

Set your mind to doing something and if you really want it, never ever doubt you are capable of doing it.

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  • In 1999, he joined the HarbourVest primary partnership group and has focused most of his efforts on US venture capital and buyout investments. Chris also has extensive experience working on the healthcare sector, as well as primary partnerships in Canada. He currently serves on the advisory committees for partnerships managed by Caltius Capital Management, Camden Partners, Columbia Capital, Essex Woodlands Health Ventures, Galen Associates, Genesys Ventures, Georgian Partners, Information Venture Partners, Mission Ventures, Sanderling Ventures, Valhalla Partners, Vector Capital, and The Wicks Group. Previously, Chris served as a pilot in the United States Navy for 11 years, flying the P-3 Orion aircraft, and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He received a BS in Finance from Providence College and an MS in Finance from the Carroll School of Management Program at Boston College.

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