Interview with Maria Lewis Kussmaul, Founding Partner at AGC Partners

Blog Post | October 20, 2020

Hi guys! This is Jael Whitney, volunteer for Kids in Tech. For Cybersecurity Awareness Month and #MassSTEMWeek, I’m going to be talking to professionals all across the cybersecurity industry about the future of STEM. Today, I’m interviewing Maria Lewis Kussmaul, Founding Partner at AGC Partners.

Credit: Maria Lewis Kussmaul

Maria, a Co-Founder and Partner at AGC Partners, leads the firm’s investment banking efforts in the IT security sector. A recognized domain expert, Maria is a frequent contributor to industry events, panelist/presenter at the RSA Conference, Member of Massachusetts Governor’s Cybersecurity Strategy Council, Security Innovation Network (SINET) Advisory Board Member, Naval War College Roundtable Participant and has facilitated numerous “Blue Sky” strategic planning sessions with leading security teams. Prior to co-founding AGC, Maria was a co-founder, general and venture partner of Castile Ventures, a seed and early stage venture capital firm. Maria’s early Wall Street career spanned three firms – Smith Barney, Shearson Lehman and Cowen & Co., culminating as global head of Cowen’s data networks & Internet investment banking activities. Working for nearly 40 years as a sell-side equity analyst, venture capitalist and investment banker, Maria has advised on hundreds of telecom equipment, networking, Internet and security transactions. Previously, she was named to the Institutional Investor All-American Research Team for 13 consecutive years. Maria holds a B.A. in Economics from Rutgers University, an M.B.A. from Wharton School of Business and a Chartered Financial Analyst designation. She was the 2013 recipient of the Boston Joseph Wharton Award.

Maria is a Trustee and Vice Chair of the board of the Museum of Science (MoS) in Boston, MA, and Chair of the Museum’s Discoverers’ Committee. She is also a member of the Board of Advisors to Boston Baroque.

A former marathoner, Maria now restricts her running to shorter distances and is a women’s running coach with 261 Fearless, a global women’s social running network. She has adopted the annual Washburn Climb of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire’s highest peak, as her chief fundraiser for MoS. Maria and her husband Wes are empty nesters and reside in Boston, MA.

How long have you been involved in Cybersecurity? What do you enjoy about it?

I have been involved in Cybersecurity as an investor or advisor for more than 25 years.  I enjoy the dynamics of the sector.  It is the only IT sector with an adversary and tends to attract sincerely mission driven professionals.

What do you mean by “with an adversary?”

By adversary, I mean the hackers, criminals, nation state actors, malevolent insiders, fraudsters, activists and data and intellectual property thieves, among others. The need for cybersecurity exists because there are adversaries seeking to do all kinds of bad things. “Mission driven” professionals are attracted to this work, not only for the compensation but because they feel compelled to counter those bad actors.

The theme for this year’s Massachusetts STEM Week is “See Yourself in STEM,” with a particular focus on the power of mentoring. How can we help more young people see themselves in STEM?

One way is to have people who look like them encourage them to consider careers in STEM; another is to encourage STEM learning very early on by providing inspiring educational experiences in school and out.  This is one of our key missions at the Museum of Science where we hope to inspire a lifelong love of science in everyone and to help build a world where science belongs to each of us for the good of all of us.