Olivia Grivas

Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws graduate
How a degree in science lead a graduate to a successful career in finance.

We spoke with Olivia Grivas, a Bachelor of Science (2018) and Bachelor of Laws (2020) graduate. Olivia explains how her degree combination taught her ways of learning that helped her excel in the finance industry.

Why did you choose the University of Sydney?

I wanted to study the slightly unusual combination of Law and Science, so I was looking for a university where I could get a world-class experience in both! Both the Sydney Law and Science faculties are known for being phenomenal places to not just earn a degree and get a job, but really fall in love with learning.

Growing up in the Blue Mountains and having to move to Sydney for university – a lively campus life with tonnes of opportunities to engage in societies and sports was also super important to me. I met some of my best friends playing for Sydney Uni Hockey Club and helping set up the Women in Science Society. 

Tell us about your role and what does it involve?

I am a venture capital investor at Skip Capital, the private investment fund of Kim Jackson and Scott Farquhar (co-founder and co-CEO of Atlassian). My role involves investing and working with the next generation of incredible technology companies. We’re a generalist technology investor, so the companies we work with are innovating in areas such as climate tech, fintech and health tech.

We’ve been lucky to invest in some of the world’s most successful tech companies like Canva, Culture Amp, Safety Culture, Figma, Airwallex and many more! In my role I’m responsible for sourcing new investments, conducting research and then once we invest, supporting those companies as they grow.

Olivia Grivas

Olivia Grivas

What key skills did you acquire from your degree that you continue to use in your role?

It sounds strange, but my degrees really drilled into me how to think in a structured way. In science, the scientific method and hypothesis-led thinking are part of every experiment and academic paper. Law requires building a strong, evidence-based argument. I use these skills every day in my investing role! We often have to develop hypotheses about how a technology like AI or hydrogen will develop, and then test that through research and customer interviews. Every investment culminates in a written investment thesis, which steps through the logic and evidence of why we should invest.

What is your most significant career achievement or highlight?

I’m extremely proud of all of the investments we’ve made at Skip, and the incredible entrepreneurs we get to work with. If I had to pick one highlight (so hard!) it would probably be the work I’ve done in the climate-tech space.

I studied geography because I wanted the technical knowledge that would help find solutions to climate change. Getting to apply my knowledge of environmental science to make investments in tech that can significantly reduce or even reverse global emissions makes me pretty proud. 

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your role or industry?

Finance is still a very male dominated industry, and although the gender balance in venture capital has improved there are still many barriers for female investors and especially for female founders. I've been really lucky to have an extremely supportive team. Skip was founded and is led by Kim Jackson, whom many junior investors (myself included) look up to as an example of what women playing at the top of their game in investing can achieve. 

What advice would you offer to students considering a career in your field?

Olivia Grivas

My biggest piece of advice for students interested in venture would be to use your university experience as an opportunity to fall in love with learning. Venture is a role where one day you might be researching how to prevent cyberattacks and the next day learning about giant fans that suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

University life exposes you to such a broad range of subject matter, that it’s a great place to branch out and learn about new topics. Just yesterday I was talking to a climate-tech founder, and I found myself recalling information from first year geology! You never know when your uni subjects will come in handy.