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Leading Edge – Karen McCormick, CIO of Private Equity Firm, Beringea

This is how industry leaders stay smart and ahead of the game.

In the first in a series revealing the media connections and reading habits of top-level business people, THE STAND gets exclusive insight from Karen McCormick, Chief Investment Officer of Beringea, a private equity firm with over 25 years experience of investing in growth markets.

Launch Ticker is something I look at regularly and is particularly good for the VC community. And the BVCA Daily Digest is a very good source of deals done. I also look at TechCrunch pretty often, and on occasion I’ll look at PandoDaily, which is a Silicon Valley news and gossip site for VCs. Growth Business is something we’re reading a lot more these days than we used to.

My main professional news sources are the typical ones: the FT and the Wall St Journal. We get the paper copies delivered to the office and I read those as well as reading them online.

I use Google News customised news feeds for work, too. I also look at the top stories there, in the general news aggregator, which will take me to sources I’m just interested in, as well as the ones I’m looking at for professional reasons. I check news throughout the day. In the morning and then two or three times during the day, then at the end of the day too. I’m not necessarily looking on my phone; it could be the desktop.

Kiki Loizou is the Small Business Editor at The Sunday Times and almost everything she writes is very useful to us. I get a physical copy of the paper and read the whole thing thoroughly; not the magazines, though. I do have a subscription for Vanity Fair, and I read it. I occasionally read Wired in print.

These days I’m listening to a lot of podcasts. The Motley Fool has a couple that are mostly about US public company coverage. NPR, which again tend to be US-focussed; their current affairs stuff is good, and includes corporate topics too. And the Andreessen Horowitz podcasts are hit-and-miss, but I stick with them. When do I listen? On the way to work.

LinkedIn I use more and more, because my news feed has got more interesting and relevant in the last couple of years. As a company, we use Twitter and LinkedIn to share stories. I don’t use Twitter. I keep trying and I’ve never taken to it. I haven’t liked it and it didn’t give me what I needed.

WhatsApp groups are often the primary communication channel with our CEOs and founders of our portfolio companies. Mike Butcher of TechCrunch hosted the Europas [European tech start-up awards and conference] in June and all of the speakers [including McCormick] are on a single WhatsApp group, so that we can exchange information.

I’ll often read books that are specific to companies we’re looking at. One recent one was Madison Avenue Manslaughter, which was interesting and fun, about the advertising agency industry. Traditional ad agencies are going, and this book talked about how there’s no real expertise in that world any more.

I read all my books on Kindle. Probably three books a week, mainly at night when I’m struggling to get to sleep. Most of those are books for pleasure, outside of work. The titles tend not to stay with me – you don’t see titles and covers when you pick up a Kindle. The last one I read was a long thriller. I get gifted paper books, but I never pick them up to carry them. Kindle goes everywhere with me.

A lot of how-to-run-a-tech-team books have the same problem: by the time you’ve finished one, it’s old. Sprint was OK, but it’s already a bit dated. Am I tempted to write my own? No. Other people are more useful than me when it comes to that.

Karen McCormick is Chief Investment Officer of Beringea, a private equity company firm with over 25 years’experience of investing in growth markets.