How She Did It: Chandra Roxanne
Updated: Oct 18, 2022
Each month we feature inspirational women who've made it to the other side of career reinvention. Learn how they did it and take away usable tips from their professional journeys!
We're so proud to introduce Chandra Roxanne. Chandra believes in the transformative power of venture capital when used consciously. A mission-driven venture capitalist, she empowers women by investing in their ideas.
In her brilliant new chapter, Chandra is the Managing Director of Astia Edge, investing in high-performing companies founded and led by Black women and Latinas whose innovations are helping to resolve complex market gaps and inefficiencies globally.
Chandra is an alumna of a fellowship program we ran before launching EvolveMe. And we've been her super-fans ever since! Read on to be inspired and find out how Chandra reinvented her career!
What is your personal mantra, mission or manifesto? If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. ––African Proverb
What inspired you to launch your current career/launch your business? The original impetus was the Return with Purpose (RWP) Fellowship that Judy and Linda co-developed and led in 2018 through Inspiring Capital. Here I discovered not only my interest in venture capital (VC), but in combining the practice of VC with the principles of consciousness.
However, it was during my recent studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) that I was galvanized by the work of female VCs in their attempt to create access to capital for female founders.
What drew me to Astia specifically was the commitment to systemic change. Astia has strategically built an infrastructure to meet the gender and racial disparity in VC.
What is unique about returning/pivoting in midlife? Challenges & opportunities? Serena Williams uses the term ‘evolution’ to define her pivot from tennis into VC and other pursuits.
I resonate with this term as evolution connotes a metamorphosis of sorts. What better time to undergo a metamorphosis than in midlife? Indeed, challenges internal to oneself and in the external environment are inherent to pivoting during midlife.
Yet they are necessary for strengthening women for the ultimate impact they will make, which will come as a result of their evolution –– a butterfly’s wings are strengthened for flight from the struggle it encounters to leave the cocoon.
A midlife pivot is an opportunity to step into a fuller, more authentic expression of oneself. Ultimately, this can be the culmination of everything a woman is now and is designed to become, should they accept the invitation.
What’s one intention you have for your work this year?
As I am new to VC, my primary intention is to learn through listening, exploring, observing, and building relationships with members of Astia’s community and like-minded colleagues.
What are you most passionate about right now? VC is where my love of finance and business combust. Investing in women and their ideas, though, is my foremost passion. Astia’s proven approach enables investors to assert their values through investments.
I believe female ingenuity will create new, much-needed markets while disrupting outdated ones across multiple sectors in the coming decades. With women from different cultures operating as full economic actors within the global economy, as well as their respective national economies, the market inefficiencies and gaps we are currently experiencing today will begin to be resolved.
I do believe economic development is tied to the ability of women to be architects, alongside their male counterparts, of the very economy in which they participate. Stifle women and one stifles the economy, period. I strongly believe that female empowerment equals capital investment.
What does a typical day look like for you? Typically, I start each morning with exercise and meditation.
On any given day I have a series of meetings with the Astia team, investors, and entrepreneurs, which is coupled with various investment-related tasks such as drafting memos, attending virtual pitches or demos, conducting research, and evaluating funding applications that were submitted through our unique platform, which is known as the Astia Expert Sift.
However, on Wednesdays I’ve made it a habit to take a “brain break” from Zoom and other virtual meetings.
What’s the one thing that has advanced your career in the last year? I was recently appointed Special Ambassador for the Community Healing Network (CHN).
On August 1st I represented CHN in Accra, Ghana, and presented their case for “emotional reparations” at the Global Summit for Reparations & Healing. Connecting with a global collection of delegates working on reparations for people of African ancestry has increased my professional network.
But more importantly, this opportunity has allowed me to truly connect with like-minded people who are working to heal the current plight of people of African ancestry due to the legacy of slavery and anti-Black hatred worldwide.
It is not a coincidence that I received this appointment approximately three months after starting full-time at Astia. I feel my career and my purpose is a beautiful culmination of the two.
Who’s your “tribe” when it comes to professional inspiration or support? I became a fellow with the Black Venture Institute in June. During the initial two-week intensive, I felt a deep sense of belonging and realized that I had found my investment home, my tribe for professional support and inspiration in VC.
Favorite book, app or podcast? PODCAST: Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead & Unlocking Us | BOOKS: Maya Angelou’s autobiography (complete set) and Women Who Run With the Wolves
You’re granted an extra hour in the day, how do you spend it? I would spend my extra hour in stillness, doing nothing. Life has become radically busy and being still and quiet is an equally radical response to the busyness.
Several years ago I started observing the Sabbath and it has been a healing experience for the health and restoration of not only my mind but my soul and my body. Thus, I would spend the extra hour perfecting the art of doing nothing.
The advice I wish I had given to my 20 year old self is… Anti-Black hate exists, including among BIPOC. Misogyny exists, even among women. You will experience both on your path. But fear not, know that the love of God/The Universe and your ancestors is stronger than anti-Black hate and misogyny. Forever trust in their love and lean on it. It will nourish you, replenish you, and carry you forward. No one can withhold love from you, because no one has a monopoly on love –– it does not originate with any single human being or group of human beings. Always remember that you are loved, deeply, deeply loved.
The advice that I want to give to my 75 year old self is... Rest. And revel in the fruits of your labor and legacy.
Your theme song that played every time you walked in a room would be? I’m Coming Out by Diana Ross
Best career advice for other women? Leave the window open for the miraculous.
Ambitious women are not idle. We plan everything. We set goals and revise them several times. We are the first to sign up for courses and workshops to “level up” or “up-skill.” We network. We buy, read, and complete workbooks and seminars to help us take the next step(s) in our careers and/or to pivot. We watch videos, attend webinars, and listen to podcasts. We conduct mock interviews and write the 100th draft of our resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn summaries and ensure our social media profiles are up-to-date. It goes on, and on, and on.
Every detail of the pivot cannot be planned though. So, while one is doing these things, leave room for the unexpected and the unknowable to land serendipitously in your lap. Be open to it and ready for it. Your opportunity will be far greater and far sweeter than you could have imagined –– trust me.
In my journey, I’ve come to realize that the opportunity for which I was preparing was also being prepared for me. I could not have planned the timing of its completion, nor its arrival. I could, however, leave space in my planning for the opportunity to cross my path when it has been made ready for me.
I remember the words of a very wise friend who once told me: we can snatch the apple from the tree, or we stand under it with an open palm and it will fall into our hand when it is ready.
When did you feel you got “you” back? Honestly, I don’t feel I’ve completely got “me” back, but I certainly feel I’ve embarked on the path.
It started in 2018 with the RWP Fellowship and learning to face forward in my life. I spent many months revisiting the exercises pertaining to my core value and my sprout speech. Yet the moment I felt my foot step onto the path was when I received my offer letter from the LSE. It was the only door that opened.
I hesitated out of fear and almost declined the offer so I could return to something which was familiar. I remember pursuing the School’s website for answers to my fears and saw a video entitled “LSE Shaping the World.” It stunned me, because a few months earlier a friend posed the following question: How do you want to shape the world, Chandra?
Watching that video made me realize that the path before me was part of some greater purpose. It was even larger than LSE, and in my fear I could choose courage, face forward, and take the next step in the Unknown that felt tremendously overwhelming. Accepting the offer felt as though I had stepped through a portal of sorts and into the rhythm of what I will call my purpose.
Being on purpose, in my opinion, is a journey of becoming oneself, one’s true self, because only the authentic self can deliver on the purpose, and I am on that journey now.
What’s up next? I am preparing to launch a new fund at Astia called Astia Edge (www.astia.org/news). Through Astia Edge, we will invest in high-performing companies founded and led by Black women and Latina CEOs globally.