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Cecilia Lenk is currently CEO of Netcapital, Inc., a publicly traded fintech company dedicated to democratizing private capital markets and empowering entrepreneurs to succeed through its online private investment platform. Her professional career has focused on technology and biopharma (plus a foray into local politics) and throughout has emphasized entrepreneurship and innovation.

Lenk was formerly Vice President of Technology and Digital Design at Decision Resources Inc. a global market analytics company serving biopharma. Prior to Decision Resources, she founded a technology firm that built a patented platform for online research. Lenk has managed large-scale technology projects in collaboration with leading organizations, including National Geographic Society, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Harvard University. She was a city councilor in Watertown, MA for three terms, where she chaired the Public Works Committee. She serve on a number of company and non-profit boards. Lenk received her PhD in Biology from Harvard University and lives in Watertown with her family and two dogs.

 

What made you choose Johns Hopkins?

I still remember exactly why I chose to come to Hopkins although it was a shockingly long time ago. I had done some small research projects in high school and thought I’d like to continue doing research When I visited Hopkins I noticed how many undergraduates were in the various labs. That observation solidified my decision to come. Within a month of arriving at Hopkins, I was working with Dr. Grace Brush and our research together continued throughout my undergraduate years. Our friendship continues to this day.

 

Do you have any memories that stand out from your time as a student?

I loved my time at Hopkins. In addition to my research and friendship with Dr. Brush, I have wonderful memories of my professors and other students in the department, especially Friday department parties in Ames Hall. This may be corny, but I always loved springtime at Hopkins. In February it started getting warm and it seemed like overnight, the whole campus became so beautiful. I loved sitting between classes on the grass in the upper Quad, or in a small park near the faculty club. And like most students, I remember very late nights on D-level in the library and the Hutzler reading room.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring engineers?

One of the great things about majoring in engineering is that it opens up so many career options. It is really a way of thinking— solving problems through a combination of creativity and analysis. So engineering will never limit you. You can shape your own career. So my advice would be don’t worry about deciding if engineering is what you want to do for the rest of your life. You can do anything you want.

 

Where are you working now? How did you get involved in this line of work?

I am CEO of Netcapital Inc. Netcapital.com’s online private investment platform was made possible by the JOBs Act of 2015 and is regulated by the SEC and FINRA. The platform allows companies to close capital digitally and provides investors access to new investment opportunities.

I became involved with Netcapital because it combines two things I love – innovation and technology – to create a whole new way of doing things. I was an early investor in the company because of my own experiences as an entrepreneur and angel investor. I am passionate about democratizing private capital markets. Companies are no longer limited to venture capital firms or IPOs and anyone can invest in companies they believe in.

 

Why and how do you choose to stay connected to Johns Hopkins as an alumnus?

Since graduating, I’ve remained closely connected to Johns Hopkins. I was on the Alumni Council of the Hopkins Alumni Association for a number of years and served as Treasurer of the Council. I have been active in the Whiting School, including serving as President of the Engineering Alumni Association. I regularly attend Hopkins events in Boston.

Staying connected to Hopkins is a great way to continue friendships and to make new ones within the Hopkins community. I’ve met so many wonderful people from all of the Hopkins schools. I encourage everyone who can to make a meaningful contribution to the Whiting School of Engineering. Your gift of any size will help support the student experience and the future of engineering for Hopkins and beyond.