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Jan 15, 2024

Board of Mentors Spotlight: Rob Mazzoni ‘05

It all started at a basketball camp in middle school. As a kid from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Rob Mazzoni grew up a huge basketball fan. Knowing about UNC because of Michael Jordan, Rob attended Carolina basketball camp in the eighth grade and fell in love with Chapel Hill. His passion for the university and for business led him to UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School where he completed an honors thesis advised by Dr. Greg Brown. While at Kenan-Flagler, Rob gained an appreciation for investing, capital markets, and endowments and following graduation began his professional career with UNC Management Company, focusing on private equity.

After spending two years working with UNC Management Company, Mel Williams, a close mentor to Mazzoni, founded the upstart investment firm TrueBridge Capital. In reflecting on his decision to join the firm, Rob explained that “the way he [Mel] invested in people I found incredibly compelling…and it was an opportunity to go deep in venture capital, and hopefully become an expert in the asset class.” He later decided to pursue his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, using this time to enhance his credentials and build his network. After completing his MBA, Rob returned to TrueBridge Capital to continue investing in venture capital funds and technology companies, as well as co-lead its direct investment fund. In January 2023, Rob joined Wellington Management to lead software investing for the late stage venture capital fund.

Rob grew up around the field of business, observing his father’s working in procurement at The Hershey Company. For him, business, and specifically investing, was always his chosen career path. According to Rob, not only do you have to constantly learn new things, as innovation is an undercurrent to technology investing; hard work and drive are often rewarded in the business world. Appreciation for these are due, in part, to the values instilled in him by his parents from a young age—in “whatever you do, do it well and see it through.”

Rob got connected with Luther Hodges Scholars (then Kenan Scholars) in 2018 through his close relationship with his college advisor and then executive director of the Kenan Institute, Greg Brown. He was attracted by the program’s mission to expose students to the various ways business can make an impact, as Rob has always considered investing an impactful career path. “The capital we manage is on behalf of endowments, foundations, and pensions, and we invest that capital in technologies that can shape our future”, he said. Rob also expressed his passion for mentorship and service as a driving force for his investment in the program. “I have always loved trying to teach and work with people and serve as a mentor. I viewed it as a natural conduit to mentor UNC students”, he shared.

Upon reflection, Rob acknowledged a deep appreciation for the mentors in his life. From the work ethic his father instilled, to his mother’s unwavering confidence in him, Mazzoni spoke of the value of having wonderful supportive parents. He shared that “It’s just so meaningful. It’s something I try to think about with my kids…believing in them.” In addition to his parents, Rob acknowledged the impact of Mel Williams’ mentorship on his life and career and appreciation of Greg Brown’s encouragement of his academic and professional career, including an introduction that landed Rob his first investing job interview, which played a key role in his ultimate career path.
For Rob, there are key indicators that can help students identify a potential mentor. These include someone who is responsive, present, thoughtful, and has a desire to invest in you. He also believes that professional and personal success are intertwined with having an impact. “Any type of job or path you take is going to feel hard. So I want to make what I do also feel meaningful”, he shared. He added that it’s vital to maintain your priorities. For Rob, “family is everything”.

From mentoring scholars, to presenting at events and providing guidance as a member of the program’s Advisory Council, Rob Mazzoni’s contributions to Luther Hodges Scholars have deeply strengthened our community. We are so appreciative to him for his leadership and investments. His positive impact will continue to be felt through not only his own career and volunteer efforts, but also through the scholars he inspires.

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