Introducing our newest team member, Michael Harte

January 27th, 2021

At United Ventures, we always try to find teammates who share our vision, but also expand our thinking and perspective. Today we are happy to announce that Michael Harte, visionary technologist and longtime friend, is joining us to lead Research. Welcome to the team, Michael!

Like us, Michael believes in the power of technological innovation. He possesses a unique technology vision and a deep understanding of how to drive growth through digital strategies and change. You may have seen him on the stage of our event Tech Insights in 2015 and 2019, sharing his views about digital powered enterprises and the challenges of corporate innovation.

Michael has served in several innovation roles during his career, most recently as the Chief Operating Officer at Santander UK, where he was in charge of overseeing business models and investments in AI, data, technology, networks, and digital change. Previously, he held senior technology and innovation positions at Barclays, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, PNC (PFPC/Blackrock), Citi and Fonterra.

As operations and technology lead, he focused on customer interactions, data and channels, operational resilience, cybersecurity, along with innovation, strategic investment and partnerships with big tech and early-stage start-ups, fintech, universities, and government across Europe and around the world.

Michael received an MSc in Systems Management from New York University and is a Research Fellow with MIT Centre Information Systems Research (CISR) researching re-platforming, digital investment performance, and quantification of digital investment returns. He also serves as a coach, mentor and board member in private firms, advising on identity, privacy, AI, core, edge and cloud computing.

Michael brings a unique global perspective to United Ventures, having studied and worked in New Zealand (he is originally from New Zealand), Sydney, Amsterdam, London, and New York. He can’t wait to restart traveling worldwide again, especially in Asia, wherein the last 12 years he has been closely watching the evolution of Chinese and Asian fintech. He is passionate about Italy, and he is truly at home in Sardinia.

We asked Michael to share a bit more about himself, his professional experience, and his views on the tech investment panorama.

You dedicated a significant part of your professional life to create value through innovation, leading change, transformation and growth across the banking and the broader financial services industry. What is something you’ve learned, and what is your vision about technology?

Choose people well. Inspiration, ideas, passion and hard work are all valuable human traits. These are the characteristics we look for to identify intrinsic value(s) and where to invest. Ultimately large doses of these traits can be the differentiators of success. It’s easy to get seduced by the latest and greatest gadgets or technological breakthroughs from algorithms in AI to new compounds in life science – however, if it’s not supported by driven people willing to go the extra mile with passion and hard work, it’s unlikely to succeed. The most important thing I personally learned up close from inspirational leaders such as Albert Fuss and Douglas Engelbart is to find the very best people and help them achieve the success they want through harnessing and supporting their dedication and commitment.

You are a world citizen, having lived in many different places across three continents. In your opinion, what geopolitical consequences will originate from recent events, and which are the trends that will shape the global economy in the next coming years?

Globalisation and the free movement of capital, goods and services, and people was generally held as a positive force for change through the 1980s and ’90s, until about 2005, we somehow lost our way. Maybe in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), in austerity management perhaps and even up to our current (mis)management of the Covid pandemic, we somehow allowed a fractious, isolating political discourse to creep in to destroy ambitions for a harmonious united Europe and the flow of stable global politics. We have largely ignored or been ineffective in addressing environmental degradation and worse still at addressing inequality. Thankfully, significant tides are shifting to a more empathetic and united consciousness, toward addressing the threats of inequality and toward overcoming existential binary distinctions – such as conflicts between East and West, left and right, fake and real, woke and ‘unwoke’. Across a wide spectrum of positive disruption, we are rightly challenging status quo – there is more room for a multifaceted discourse and a building of momentum for change. I am optimistic that we are over the worst of what the GFC, Brexit, Trumpism and Covid have wrought on societies and economies. Given sound long-term (Public) monetary and fiscal management, coupled with strong (Private) commercial investment strategies, we are about to enjoy another long boom where societies rebuild along the lines of sound community development, environmental practice and, moreover, we are all adequately incentivised for social good.

As an MIT Research fellow, you investigate technology value, digital business models, and transformative change. What drew you to venture capital – specifically to United Ventures – and what is your focus of interest regarding tech investments?

Venture funding is exciting. We can make the difference in rapidly scaling adoption and adaptation of new innovations. Our job is to find the very best European talent, back their ideas and help them realise the value they offer, moreover to gain commercial presence in markets all over the world. The US venture market is perhaps the most efficient aggregator of capital and makes markets for some of the most fundamental changes in the world around us.

Italy and Europe are burgeoning with creative entrepreneurs and deep science breakthroughs – we need to bring these wonderful pioneers, creatives, makers and thoughtful risk-takers safely to market to help them, their businesses and the markets/communities they serve to find new growth for the development of Italy and Europe and to put these new businesses firmly on the world stage. We need to emulate the success of the US venture market for the betterment of Europe.

Thank you for the chat, Michael. We are looking forward to working together!

Read next