Saturday, January 19, 2019

MBAs are moving from Finance to Startups

When I left business school in 2008, I was planning to go into Finance. I took plenty of Finance classes and started working at Bank of America when I graduated. However, firstly, I was bored in my role there, which was highly specialised.

Secondly, We had a massive financial crash that began in Financial Services, that year. My Bank also acquired Merril Lynch just before finding out that it had had a $19.2 Billion Loss; probably one of the main reasons why Ken Lewis, Bank of America's CEO had to step down shortly after.

Fortunately, there was one industry in Boston, Massachusetts, at this time, that was growing; Technology. My wife, Catherine, had a great job at a Managed internet services provider, called Akamai Technologies.

She had previously worked in the traditional Management Consulting track, with four years at Mckinsey and other stints at Bain, Boston Consulting Group and LEK.

So that's when I took the leap into technology and into the world of startups. If you take the twenty-year challenge and look at the top employers of MBAs in 1999 and today, you'll see there is one company in both lists, Mckinsey.

But generally, the trend is out of Finance and towards Technology.....

1998 2018
1 Mckinsey & Co 1 Google
2 Goldman Sachs 2 McKinsey & Co.
3. JP Morgan 3 Amazon
4. Morgan Stanley 4 Bain & Company
5. Boston Consulting Group 5 Apple

I don't have the numbers for Startups versus corporations, but based on anecdotal experience, I'd say it's just as pronounced. Highly skilled workers are moving away from traditional large organisations and towards smaller tech companies. 

Why is this? Partly, it's the flexibility. For example, the entire work from home movement that has now finally been embraced by large corporations, started in tech companies, as did the relaxation of the tie and suit for work.

Now, even upper crust financial firms accept their employees wearing chinos and button downs, jeans even, on a Friday. This would have been unheard of twenty years ago.

So here's my list of questions to ask yourself to see if you're a fit for a startup?

1. 'Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?' Steve Jobs, Apple Founder. If that statement makes no sense to you, then definitely do not join a startup.

2. Are you a risk taker? If you like safe and stable, 9-5 hours, a steady paycheck, then definitely corporate is for you. If you want to stretch yourself; If you are not afraid to try things and fail; If you can handle being swamped with never-ending tasks, then the startup world is for you

3. Are you a specialist? If you are someone who likes to work intensely at one role and become 'perfect' at it, then a corporate is a better fit for you. Startups are a better fit for those who have a generalised skill set and like working that way

Working at a Startup - 'Jack of All Trades' 

If you work at a startup you better be a Jack of all trades.

I'm going to use the accurate, full version of this quote to show you what I mean;
 'A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one'.

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