Soo Jin Park, senior manager, Cisco Investments, is one of our top 50 Rising Stars in corporate venturing for 2024.

Soo Jin Park joined Cisco Investments, the corporate venture arm of the US technology company, three years ago after a six-year career in investment banking at Jefferies.

At Jefferies, Park was vice president of technology mergers and acquisitions, a role that led him to follow Cisco Investments, which has integrated venture investments and M&A. “I really liked Cisco Investments’ idea that they cover the entire lifecycle of venture investments and M&A. It is a key differentiator.”

Park is responsible for cutting-edge cybersecurity investments, including recent investments into SGNL, Binalyze, Robust Intelligence, Tidelift, AppOmni and Island.

In 2023 the company announced acquisitions of three cybersecurity companies that it had invested in. Park helped lead the acquisitions of Isovalent, Oort, Armorblox and Valtix.

Park says his background in management consulting, a sector he spent four years in before moving to investment banking, has helped hone skills for becoming a corporate venturing professional. Having advised large technology companies on M&A for several years, he has developed an acumen on technologies and architectures that are likely to scale inside a large corporation. He also learned how corporations strategically leverage acquisitions and investments to unlock growth. He brings this expertise to Cisco while identifying compelling and mutually beneficial investment opportunities, in a noisy and frenetic cybersecurity landscape.

Park was also attracted to being part of Cisco’s transition to a more software and subscription-based company. Cisco Investments has helped steer that transition.

Understanding the true motivations of startups that want an investment from the company is critical to doing corporate venturing well, he says.  “There aren’t boilerplate investments. Each one is different. Understanding that is critical.”

It is also important to know founders well and really understand their product and technology, he says. This is especially the case in the cybersecurity sector where many companies claim similar offerings.  “It is paramount to be able identify which startups will stand out from the crowd.” 

See the full list of GCV Rising Stars for 2024 here.