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Ms Ransom grew up in a remote farming community in New Zealand and was the only female in her high-school class, she moved to the US at the age of 17 to attend United World College in Montezuma, New Mexico.
After studying psychology at Macalester College, Ms Ransom worked for Morgan Stanley, where she gained her first insight into entrepreneurship. In 2001 she launched Access Trips, a company specialising in instructional adventure tours. In 2008 – after graduating from Harvard – she launched Wildfire, helped by a $250,000 award from Facebook’s fbFund, a seed fund for developers and entrepreneurs.
In her spare time, Ms Ransom enjoys surfing, snowboarding, biking and hiking. She was recently named a 2012 TechFellow, an award honouring technology innovators for achievement and excellence in high-tech entrepreneurship.
1. Who are your business heroes?
I’ve long admired women leaders in technology. I recently got to know Susan Wojcicki, the woman behind all of Google’s ad products, and I was not only blown away by how much she has achieved but also by how humble she is about it. I’ve also long admired Sheryl Sandberg for her achievements and leadership at Facebook and for what she is doing to help promote women in business.
2. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
After 9/11, I made the decision to quit working on Wall Street and headed back to New Zealand to start Access Trips. On my way, I met a professor who told me that there are many paths to success and it’s not worth stressing over which is the right one. You just need to pick a path and make the best of it. If it turns out not to be the optimal path, then you can adjust. Many paths can lead to a great outcome.
3. What academic achievement are you most proud of?
Relative to where I’d come from, getting into Harvard Business School felt like a great achievement. I was the first to graduate from college in my family, so I never imagined I would get to HBS.
4. What would you do if you were dean of a business school for the day?
Get practical people in to talk to students. Have students go out and spend time in the many start-ups in Silicon Valley and inspire them to think differently about risk-taking.
5. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
Your own happiness and achievement is only as good as the quality and happiness of your team members. You can’t create success on your own – it comes from surrounding yourself with an exceptional team.
6. Who is your ideal professor?
I’ve always respected Jim Collins’ (business consultant, author and lecturer) work. I really love his books on growing great companies and I’d love to get a chance to interact with and learn from him.
7. What advice would you give to women in business education?
The more that you can get into a career that is in the technology and innovation field the better. Think carefully about the field you are going into – is it a field of the future that will make sense no matter where you are at on the planet?
8. What is the worst job you have ever had?
Picking asparagus on my parents’ farm was never a favourite activity but it taught me a lot about the importance of hard work.
9. What is the last book you read?
I read Steve Jobs’ biography recently. I work such long hours as an entrepreneur that I don’t get to read books as often as I would like, but his biography was fascinating.
10. If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
It would have been great to end up in Silicon Valley earlier – like right after I left Morgan Stanley or right after college. I would have loved to get involved in this community sooner.
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