Executive Search Firm


Donna White

Story about the Founder and Managing Partner
of August Venture Talent

recruiting-firm

The launch of August Venture Talent in August 2015 is more than rebranding BWA Executive Search or building on the legacy of BrewingtonWhite, Donna’s first entrepreneurial endeavor that started alongside the birth of her son August, born in August 1998.

August Venture Talent represents Donna’s passion for and commitment to the startup ecosystem and the wider entrepreneurial community. She is excited by the potential of entrepreneurship as a vital force in building the world’s economic strength, and its role in providing opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds to stretch to their highest potential in pursuit of a vision.

I believe that people should thrive in their work. I see my role as helping to make this happen.

When Donna had the privilege of meeting one of her role models, venture capitalist Fred Wilson, in person, she shared with him that when she landed on his AVC.com blog in 2009 and began interacting with the entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts who frequented the comments section, she felt like she had found her people.  Encouraged and inspired by this community, she began to fully embrace her identify as an entrepreneur, deciding that she wanted to do more than build a robust executive search practice, but to build a high-impact business.  

I believe in business and the value of commerce. And businesses are not going to be successful without the right people.

Earlier in the same year that she began frequenting AVC.com and other VC and tech blogs, Donna resigned as Vice President of a highly respected boutique executive search firm, on a quest to reinvent her career. This decision was prompted by a time of soul searching in which she reflected back on her experiences several years earlier at BrewingtonWhite when much of her time was consumed with supporting the brilliant founders of two early stage consumer technology startups as a recruiting partner in building their management teams.

Those two clients, along with several others, were negatively impacted by the economic aftermath of the dot com bubble, which led to Donna joining a more established executive search firm. This proved to be a great experience, but as the firm’s client base increasingly veered toward the nonprofit sector, Donna found herself at a crossroads, and her passion for working with emerging companies won out.

It wasn’t just recruiting for those founders who were my first startup clients- they needed a confidant and a sounding board. Likewise, I don’t see my services with AVT as just about hiring for them. I am helping my clients build their business.

Launching BWA Executive Search on the brink of the recession was one of Donna’s most challenging undertakings to date. However, a lifetime of facing and overcoming adversity has contributed to her motivation for championing entrepreneurs.

Her personal history includes growing up in a part of the Midwest where racial discrimination was rampant, causing her to continuously fight against what felt like an invisible but palpable force. One of her notable early successes was serving as campaign manager for a classmate whose other friends discouraged her from attempting the seemingly impossible feat of becoming the high school’s first ever African-American in student government. Undeterred, Donna took on her friend’s campaign, promising to help her win – and she did.

As a young adult, she walked away from a scholarship at a Midwestern university and the family support available by remaining close by, convinced that heading west would open new possibilities for her life. This resulted in taking an entry level role in the Human Resources department of a large financial institution based in Los Angeles which led to rapid promotion to the role of Compensation Analyst while she also completed her degree in business at Pepperdine University.

The first stirrings of entrepreneurial drive in her 20s led her away from the corporate world into executive search. Contacted by a headhunter about a new opportunity, Donna was more intrigued by the headhunter’s own role than the job being presented. As well as being drawn to the independence that the role offered, she saw becoming an executive search consultant as a perfect way to combine her convictions about how finding the right work promotes an individual’s wellbeing, the value of commerce to society, and the vital importance of people to an organization’s success. These convictions have driven her career.

Donna’s first entrepreneurial venture in 1998 came unexpectedly. After a few years’ hiatus from the business world to work with her husband in a nonprofit organization, they found themselves suddenly unemployed after taking a stand as a matter of conscience. Unemployed and broke with two young children and a third on the way, Donna decided to pursue her latent dream of becoming self-employed and to return to the field of executive search for which she had never lost her sense of passion. This provided her the challenge that she craved while also providing the flexibility needed in raising a growing family.

Donna’s life experiences are at the heart of many of the passions and convictions that led to the creation of August Venture Talent. In some ways, launching this firm is a celebration of her own personal and professional reinvention and pursuit of a dream.

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