Ilana Golan tells Gentry she currently “wears two hats.” As the CEO of Golan Ventures, a Los Altos-based investment firm involved in sectors including retail, enterprise, and automotive, “I help Israeli startups succeed across the ocean,” notes Golan. Her company works in tandem with each team to carefully prepare them on all aspects of the marketplace, pricing, and collateral. Golan’s impressive roster of industry contacts can then help open doors to a network of connected individuals with crucial brand access. She calls it a “transformative business model,” one that she notes has already attracted considerable interest from other countries. Separately, Golan is also involved with the International Peace Accelerator, an organization started by Kellogg alumni that applies an innovative business mindset to the world of conflict resolution.
Golan’s inspiring background, both personally and professionally, suggests she will succeed at any endeavor. Among many other accolades, she was the first woman to become a Commander-in-charge of training all F-16 pilots in the Israeli Air Force simulator. Keeping her feet firmly on the ground even while soaring to incredible heights, she modestly says, “It’s not necessarily the smartest or most capable person in the room who succeeds. What’s more important is to have perseverance.”
After conquering the skies, Golan swiftly set about shattering glass ceilings. She was one of only nine women among approximately 300 men in her cohort to study electrical engineering. In her first year at engineering school, she became the youngest student ever at the time to be hired by Intel. Golan went on to play a pivotal role in acquiring a Swedish startup on behalf of the semiconductor titan, an experience that sparked her interest in the customer-focused aspect of business.
She subsequently established a U.S. presence for the pioneering cloud outfit Quali and also worked for Versity, a startup later purchased for $300 million. Such a highly impressive track record saw Golan named to both Forbes’ “40 Over 40” list and selected as one of the “Silicon Valley Women of Influence” by Business Journal.
In her spare time, Golan has also participated in triathlons for charitable causes and traveled around the world solo. It’s a remarkable journey, one that shows no signs of stopping!