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Current career a venture Cece Smith hadn't anticipated
Corporate background proved ideal when opportunity arose to form specialty retail capital fund
Cece Smith, co-founder and partner of Phillips-Smith Specialty Retail Group, is a case study in how a career can evolve in directions not anticipated.
"They didn't have venture capital classes when I was in college," said the 44-year-old venture capitalist. "I had no idea that I would end up where I have."
Not that she is complaining. As a venture capitalist, she and partner Don Phillips have participated in the funding of nine start-ups and expansions, and one leveraged buy-out during the two years the fund has been in existence. Their first $20 million fund has virtually been committed for investments and they are currently in the process of raising $50 million for a second fund.
The name "Specialty Retail Group" pretty much tells what kind of companies Phillips-Smith invests in. The partners invest in retailers attempting to carve a niche in a particular market, often with a large-scale, discount strategy. Included in their roster of investments are some familiar local names such as Bookstop, BizMart, and A Pea in the Pod.
Even though Smith said she never expected she'd end up as a venture capitalist, her mainstream corporate background was excellent preparation. After graduating magna cum laude from University of Michigan with a degree in business administration in 1966, she went to work for the accounting firm Arthur Young & Co. in Boston. She received a gold medal for having the highest score on the Massachusetts certified …