Saqib Jalil, senior manager, Cisco Investments, is one of our 50 rising stars in corporate venturing in 2023.

Saqib Jalil is a senior manager at Cisco Investments, the corporate venture arm of networking technology provider Cisco, but he didn’t start out in venture capital.  

“I’m an engineer by trade,” he says. “I went through engineering school but a lot of my family members come from investment and business, so part of me always wanted to go to that side.” 

Jalil went on to get an MBA from Wharton and moved into investment banking where he got a direct taste of investing, financials and how businesses operate, along with a variety of different deal structures.  

“Investing is something I’m passionate about and technology is a medium where I’m mentally stimulated

“But at the same time, I was missing that deeper connection with technology,” Jalil says. “Investing is something I’m passionate about and technology is a medium where I’m mentally stimulated. The corporate venture route was the best way to combine them.” 

Cisco Investments hired Jalil in 2019 after he had spent five years in investment management for the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association. He’s picked up a reputation for identifying areas of strategic relevance for the company.  

Jalil has also worked extensively with Cisco Investments’ Aspire Fund, which was launched to back founders and fund managers from underrepresented backgrounds. His passion for that stems from his time on Wall Street, where he noticed how few people of colour or members of the LGBTQ community were in senior positions. 

“I always felt a little out of place,” he says. “And so many of my friends left the industry to pursue new careers because they did not belong to that club.  

“For the longest time, VC and private equity have been industries which a small few in our society have dominated. About a decade ago, you’d hardly see a person of colour or a woman in an investment team. Today, the industry has made tremendous progress, but we still have a lot of work to do.” 

See the rest of our Top 50 Rising Stars for 2023 here.

Robert Lavine

Robert Lavine is special features editor for Global Venturing.