Chief Executive Officer, Surgical Solutions
As of January 2018, Alyssa J. Rapp is the CEO of Surgical Solutions, a health care services provider owned by private equity firm Sterling Partners. Alyssa has also served as the Managing Partner at AJR Ventures, a strategic advisory firm for private equity firms and family offices since 2015 on their new business unit/new market development strategies. In 2014, Alyssa joined the ranks as a lecturer-in- management at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business teaching a course on the Global Dynamics of the Wine Industry. Previously, Alyssa served as the founder & CEO of Bottlenotes, Inc., a leading interactive media company in the U.S. wine and craft beer industries.
When not immersed in business and civic life (via service on the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Spark Program, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago board of trustees), Alyssa loves to run track, do yoga, ski fast, and try as hard as possible to decipher a slider from a curve ball from her husband, 1990 MLB World Series champion and current partner at X10 Capital, Hal Morris. Alyssa and Hal are the proud parents of Audrey Margaret Morris (born: September 12, 2012) and Henriette (“Hettie”) Daniella Morris (born: March 16, 2015).
Alyssa holds a BA from Yale University (2000) and an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business (2005).
Describe a moment that could’ve broken you, but didn’t. How did you get past the struggle?
There is no question that when we were at the 2 yard line on an acquisition deal with my first company and the deal fell apart due to structural change at the acquiring company (e.g. absorbing our deal sponsor into another division and terminating our deal sponsor after 20 years with the company in light of that re-organization), it could have broken me. I used the opportunity to pivot- and work on a strategic partnership instead with our top customer. I rallied the team, the board, and our internal stakeholders that we were going to be making “lemons out of lemonade” from this massive sea-change that was ultimately out of our control. Bottom line: I do not know a way in life to move past struggle without viewing the glass half full and using lemons as an opportunity to make lemonade. By staying positive, dedicated, optimistic, and strong of mind, you can blast through most brick walls in life. Not all, but most.
What is one piece of advice you live by?
To paraphrase my husband (MLB 1990 World Champion), Hal Morris, until it’s the last out of the 9th inning, keep swinging. All you can control is your effort. You have responsibility to give life your absolute all each day. Then the cards will fall as they may.
Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?
My mother. She lost her own mother at 16, graduated Northwester University in 3 years as a Russian major, went on to a very successful career in law, and ultimately the US Ambassador to the Netherlands under President Obama. Her ability to be self-reliant, tireless, diplomatic and driven, while affording my younger brother and me every opportunity in the world have all been great inspirations to me. She is also the world’s best “Oma!” (Dutch for grandmother)
If you could create a slogan for your life, what would it be?
“Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up.”-Winston Churchill
How do you define your purpose & mission in life?
I believe that “your legacy is every life you’ve touched,” per Maya Angelou. I strive to give of myself fully in each of my relationships and endeavors: my marriage, motherhood, sisterhood, daughterhood, entrepreneurship, executive, as a board member, as an athlete, etc. I believe in balancing a life of entrepreneurial and business and managerial pursuits- evidenced by roles as a founder/CEO, advisor to private-equity backed companies, and now in a new CEO role for a private equity firm- with a life of service to others- currently enacted by my roles as a lecturer-in-management at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and on the IHDA/Spark/Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s boards. More, a foundation of health/wellness/athleticism for me is the foundation of each and every day. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of others. This balancing act of work, service, parenthood, et all isn’t easy- but it’s crucial. As one of my favorite professors from business school and mentor Joel Peterson also advises, balance isn’t always achieved daily but must be achieved episodically. But understanding who matters most and honoring those relationships is ultimately what life is all about, at least for me.