Kati Suominen is the founder of TradeUp Capital Fund and founder and CEO of Nextrade Group, which helps governments, multilateral development banks, and Fortune 500s optimize public policy and lending strategies in support of trade and digitization. She’s also an assistant adjunct professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Before joining a Zócalo/UCLA panel discussion in Los Angeles asking “Does Globalization Only Serve Elites?” she spoke in the Zócalo green room about tennis, Eleanor Roosevelt, and living as a minimalist.
You went to college on a full tennis scholarship, on a NCAA Division I team. Do you still find time for tennis?
I exercise every day, running and weight-lifting. But my tennis is getting rusty. Every year I say I’ll get back to it, but not yet.
What do you consider to be the greatest simple pleasure?
Walking on the beach at sunset or under the stars.
What word or phrase do you use most often?
I’m not going to say that here. (Laughs.) I say “That’s excellent” a lot. When someone says something, I say, “That’s excellent.”
What is your most prized material possession?
I hate to say this but it’s my laptop. It has a lot of information in it. Much more than I can keep in my head.
Who is the one person, living or dead, you would most like to meet?
There are a lot of great women in history that I would love to meet. Eleanor Roosevelt. Great tennis players like Billie Jean King, who changed the game. Then you have Hillary Clinton. Any of those.
What profession would you like to practice in your next life?
If I were a man, quarterback. I’ve always thought that would be an interesting job, and also by mentality. You’re leading this entire field of players and choreographing the plays, and every time coming up with a new strategy. Tennis is the same way, but team sports are more complicated because there are so many moving parts.
What is your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
Two things. One is the creativity and openness to new ideas. That is very important when you have an entrepreneurial bent. The other is the proximity to the grand nature that California has—the beaches, the sky, the mountains. Everything is so vivid here, and you don’t have to go too far to find it.
What keeps you up at night?
Thankfully nothing. I sleep soundly every night, nine hours, 10 hours.
What’s hanging on your living room walls?
Not a whole lot, in fact. I’m a minimalist. I have an abstract painting of a beach. I’m very simple. I don’t like to have stuff.