Our team

A diverse group of builders united by a passion to create

Jesse Downing
Jesse Downing

Jesse Downing

CEO and Portfolio Manager

Prior to founding Downing Capital Group, Jesse was an investor at The Baupost Group, a $30 billion investment partnership, from 2015 to 2021 where he made investments in media, healthcare, packaging, software, agriculture, aircraft, grocery, consumer products, business services, entertainment, and leisure. He also served on the firm’s Risk Committee and co-led recruitment for the public team. From 2012 to 2015, Jesse worked at HighVista Strategies, a $4 billion fund in Boston where he invested in energy, transportation, private credit, and media. Jesse graduated with high honors from Harvard University where he studied Economics and Mathematics. Jesse Downing is the co-author, with Norton Reamer, of Investment: A History published by Columbia University Press. The book traces the history of investing from early human civilization to the present and has been featured in Institutional Investor, The New York Times, and The Economist.

Fernando Okumura
Fernando Okumura

Fernando Okumura

Investment Partner

Prior to joining Downing Capital Group, Fernando was the CEO and co-founder of Kekanto-DD, a marketplace and SaaS company backed by Accel and acquired by Locaweb (LWSA3). Previously, he was the COO of ClickOn, a US$700MM GMV group buying company acquired by Mosaico Internet Holdings. Fernando is also an active early-stage investor, having backed Brilia, acquired by Cartesian Capital Group, among others. Prior to his entrepreneurial career, Fernando was a management consultant at McKinsey and an investment banker at JPMorgan. Fernando graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where he studied finance, and Stanford Graduate School of Business where he received his MBA.

Sam Heffernan
Sam Heffernan

Sam Heffernan

Investment Partner

Prior to joining Downing Capital Group, Sam was a hospitality-focused real estate investor at MCR, a leading hotel investment and development group in New York City. He previously worked as an investor at Kensico Capital, a $6 billion equity long-short hedge fund, where he invested in businesses across a wide range of industries including software, consumer products, media, food and beverage, technology, and retail. Sam graduated from Princeton University where he studied Economics and the MIT Sloan School of Management where he received his MBA.

Philip Ratnowsky
Philip Ratnowsky

Philip Ratnowsky

Principal

Prior to joining Downing Capital Group, Philip was the first investment professional at the fintech and SaaS venture studio LabCo from 2017 to 2021. He helped the firm build several successful digital services companies in the FinTech and HR space. Philip started his career at UBS in the New York City office as an investment banking analyst where he covered industrial companies—particularly in the transportation, aviation, and building materials sectors—and executed on both M&A and capital raise transactions. Philip graduated magna cum laude from the University of Georgia with a degree in Finance and received his MBA from Columbia Business School where he was a Mark Venrick Fellow, Columbia Venture Fellow, and graduated with Dean’s Honors.

Fausto Rodriguez
Fausto Rodriguez

Fausto Rodriguez

Chief of Staff

Prior to joining Downing Capital Group, Fausto was an Executive of NuviGroup, a leading conglomerate with industrial, retail, and agriculture operations. During his tenure at NuviGroup, Fausto oversaw large-scale industrial investments, founded one of the leading retailers in Sub-Saharan Africa, which employed over 2,500 individuals, and was CEO of a greenfield agriculture operation. Previously, Fausto launched two e-commerce ventures, Zanui in Australia, and Linio in Colombia – which was backed by Rocket Internet and exited to Falabella. Prior to his entrepreneurial journey, he started his career as a McKinsey consultant. Fausto graduated with high honors from Católica-Lisbon School of Business & Economics, where he studied Finance, and from Columbia University where he completed a Postbaccalaureate in Premedical Studies.

Virginia Heleno
Virginia Heleno

Virginia Heleno

Operations Manager and Executive Business Partner to CEO

Prior to joining Downing Capital Group, Virginia was at Wellington Management Company, a privately held global investment management firm, where she supported the director and leaders of the Financial Reserves Management team in the Boston office. She previously worked at Harvard University supporting two faculty members and their respective labs and at the Borough of East Newark, a municipality in New Jersey, supporting the CFO. Virginia graduated from Boston University where she studied Psychology and Criminal Justice.

Mariana Achatz
Mariana Achatz

Mariana Achatz

Investment Research Specialist

Prior to Downing Capital Group, Mariana was one of the first employees at Pagaleve, Brazil’s first Buy Now Pay Later startup. She was responsible for creating the customer communications workflow as well as coordinating the development of their website and other first marketing channels. Mariana was also in charge of the outbound sales area where she successfully closed the company’s first four B2B deals. Mariana is a last year student at Fundação Getúlio Vargas in São Paulo, Brazil, and has also taken part in a 6-month exchange program at EmLyon Business School, in France.

Sean Park
Sean Park

Sean Park

Head of Talent

Prior to joining Downing Capital Group, Sean was a Talent Partner at High Alpha Innovation, a venture studio that partnered with leading corporations and universities to launch new SaaS startups. While at High Alpha Innovation, Sean recruited founders across a dozen new ventures in various industries, ranging from healthcare to marketing tech to waste management. He previously worked as a technical and executive recruiter at The Org, a Series B startup in NYC, where he partnered with various tech startups to support their early hiring efforts. In addition, Sean is a US veteran that served for 6 years in the Army National Guard and graduated from Babson College with a degree in Business Administration.

Ian Jutras
Ian Jutras

Ian Jutras

Talent Acquisition Partner

Ian is a seasoned talent acquisition professional in tech and early-stage recruitment across diverse industries in both the U.S. and Europe. Ian has held key roles in prominent companies such as GoGuardian, Lime, XITE Networks, and Catawiki. Ian is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst with a degree in Business Administration.

Gabriella Reiner
Gabriella Reiner

Gabriella Reiner

Talent Acquisition Partner

Gabriella is a seasoned recruiter with a knack for identifying top talent in the tech and startup sectors, including SaaS and health tech. With experience spanning both technical and business roles, she has successfully recruited for companies such as Vimeo and Carrot Fertility across the US and EMEA regions. Holding a degree in Management and Marketing from Touro College, Gabriella is driven by her passion to leverage her expertise in supporting the growth and success of early-stage startups.

Julia Souza
Julia Souza

Julia Souza

Talent Acquisition Specialist

Prior to Downing Capital, Julia worked at Fox Human Capital, a staff agency, with a focus on Private Equity and Venture Capital. Julia was the first employee at Fox to expand operations from Brazil to the USA with the CEO, supporting end-to-end recruitment and new client development. Prior to that, Julia has also worked as an HR generalist. She holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology from the Federal Fluminense University.

Leticia Costabile Alioto
Leticia Costabile Alioto

Leticia Costabile Alioto

Operations Analyst

Prior to joining Downing Capital, Leticia worked at Norton Rose Fulbright, a global law firm where she worked in administrative affairs. Leticia studied Production Engineering at Faculdades Metropolitanas Unidas.

Julie Kim
Julie Kim

Julie Kim

MBA Investment Intern

Julie is an MBA Candidate at Columbia Business School, where she is a Columbia Venture Fellow. Previously, she worked as an investor at FemHealth Ventures, a women’s health focused venture capital firm based in New York where she invested in early-stage startups developing drugs, devices, diagnostics, and digital health applications. Julie started her career at Clarion (now Lumanity), a life sciences consulting firm based in Boston. She partnered closely with biopharmaceutical clients to assess new opportunities and develop strategic plans on assets ranging from small molecules to cell therapies. She has engaged with companies in immunology, rare diseases, neurology, and oncology spaces. Julie graduated from Amherst College where she studied Neuroscience.

Sanchie Shroff
Sanchie Shroff

Sanchie Shroff

MBA Investment Intern

Sanchie is an MBA Candidate at Harvard Business School and a campus investment partner at the MBA Fund. Previously, she worked as an Investment Associate at SoftBank, a $140B+ venture capital firm where she invested in growth-stage tech startups across Consumer, SaaS, and FinTech. Sanchie also worked with WestBridge Capital, an $8B+ crossover fund based in India and the US. Having deployed ~$400M as an investor, she partnered closely with the portfolio founders on GTM, C-Level hiring, product strategy, and improving unit economics. She started her career as a consultant at McKinsey & Company and has spent time across O&G, Steel, and Pharma practice. Sanchie graduated from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University, where she majored in Business and Finance.