Adele Oliva


  • Firm: Quaker Partners
  • Education: MBA, Cornell University; BSc, St. Joseph University
  • Position on the Forbes Tech Midas List: 97


Adele Oliva has ample experience and deep roots in biotech and pharmaceutical investment, but she didn’t know this is where her interests would lie until the early 1990s during her tenure at Cornell.

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“While at business school, I was not sure what industry I was going to go into,” she said during a panel, talking about her transition from a bachelor’s in finance to her healthcare-focused MBA. “So I sat through everything from Exxon to Mobile to PNG to consulting and chose healthcare as where I want to spend the next 40 to 50 years. I’m thrilled with the decision.”

She put in some time in marketing and business positions in her chosen industry, then transitioned to investment. Some of her portfolio companies have seen notable exits in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and her current investments include EKR Therapeutics, NB Therapeutics, NovaSom and Semprae Laboratories.

“I sit in board meetings everyday where I’m the only woman,” she said at a Cornell event in 2009. “There are still many board meetings where there are no women. Most of the people I work with and are exposed to are white men — and they are very talented, but there is the benefit of diversity in ideas, in contacts, and networks.”

Recommended: interview about the value of MBA programs; clips and transcripts from a panel on enterprising women.

Top image courtesy of wavebreakmedia ltd, Shutterstock