Rania Missoumi is Managing Director at Novastone Capital Advisors, a Swiss company founded by a consortium of Single Family Offices, that runs an Entrepreneurship through Acquisition program. After obtaining her bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from UCLA, Rania Missoumi attended Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, receiving an M.P.H in Health Policy and Management. She went on to work as a healthcare consultant before returning to Columbia to complete her M.B.A. She was an investment banker in Mergers and Acquisitions, has held a number of roles in Strategy and Operations in London and Dubai before returning to the U.S. Over the course of her career, she has had the she had the opportunity to work with large companies as well as small and medium-sized enterprises including family-owned businesses. Rania recently launched a fund to acquire and operate a profitable healthcare company. Our Nadine Mansour sat down with her for this interview.
Can you tell us about your journey to Columbia?
Moving to NYC was exciting but a culture shock with the high rises and even crossing the busy streets - it’s a different experience than LA, where I completed my undergraduate studies in neuroscience at UCLA. In NYC, I enrolled in a Master's in Public Health at Columbia and then worked for a few years as a healthcare consultant based in New York, having clients all over the country including physician groups with community hospitals and life sciences companies.
I felt, however, that I lacked the business side and how marketing, finance, and healthcare work together. I decided to go back to Columbia and get my MBA and had a wonderful experience as I did with my public health program.
I used the MBA to pivot to investment banking, starting in New York and then in London. I worked in Mergers and Acquisitions across different sectors. Then I met my future husband and in 2007 I moved to Dubai.
2007 was a really exciting time to be in Dubai due to extraordinary change happening on the ground and the city felt like it was being built overnight. It was a different market than NY or London and required that I be scrappy and figure things out - a really fun experience that helped me develop an entrepreneurial mindset that has been an asset for me today.
Tell us about your current role
In September 2021 I launched a search fund focused on acquiring a single, profitable healthcare business. Upon acquiring the business, I will step into the CEO role and operate the business. We are looking for founders who have built an interesting business, but for whatever reason (retirement, etc.) are not able to put more of their time or money into getting the company to its next level of growth and are looking to sell.
It’s a very exciting place to be because, even though I’m planning to step into an established business, there is no playbook to figure things out; I love this uncharted territory.
I decided to partner with a Swiss entity that has a program for people like me. Since then, I’ve been searching for a health care business to acquire and then operate, and will ultimately step in as CEO. It will be an opportunity to set the tone, culture, and path and manage people to achieve growth while also having a supportive team around me.
What advice would you share for recent Columbia graduates in terms of becoming an entrepreneur?
You have to be smart about targeting; my investors were looking for what I was bringing to the table which was a different way of looking at investments. They also liked my identity as a woman and that I had a different perspective on things.
You might get dissuaded at some points if you're speaking to people that can't relate what you're trying to achieve or the values you bring to your work environment. So in addition to getting in front of the right people, it’s imperative that you yourself are convinced that you are the best person to pursue your idea. When I was 100% convinced that I was ready to do this, that it was the right move for me, it was easy for me to convince investors to back me.
One of the big questions I get from investors is, "If we don't select you to work with us, what are you going to do next?" and it was always a no-brainer that I'll just do what I’ve set out to accomplish, even if I have to figure out how to do it with others.
Did any aspect of your identity have an impact on your career or simply shaped your experiences thus far?
Being Arab has made me very aware of when we talk about diversity and inclusion. Many times people think of it as this box that you check or a textbook definition, but for me it's definitely more about coming from a different background or having a different, much more nuanced experience. Being Arab, I can appreciate how to include different voices from other different experiences as well.
What’s your favorite Arabic book or film?
The first thing that comes to mind is West Beirut by Ziad Doueiri. It told a sad story so well and managed to be humorous and uplifting.
Favorite spot on Columbia's campus?
I love just walking in through the gates and toward the steps in front of the library ; I relate to that both when I did the public health degree and while at the Business School. I also have a memory of one of the delis on Amsterdam, where we used to get these really great sandwiches.
Favorite class at Columbia?
My favorite class was Top Management Process by Ralph Biggadike. My second was an Economics and Finance class which was taught by a SIPA professor, when I was doing the M.P.H. It was really my first course in the finance field, and I love the way she taught it, very concept based.
How can CAAA serve our community?
The CAAA could offer so much because we have so many accomplished alumni to draw from. On a professional level, it could offer mentorship and networking and linking people together.