How Kellogg MBA Sets Job Search Priorities
In Chapter 12 of 13 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview with host Erik Michielsen, innovation strategist Hammans Stallings shares how he sets job search priorities before graduating from Northwestern with a Kellogg MBA. Stallings finds an venture capital internship too similar to investment banking. He learns that top venture capitalists often have deep operations experience. Stallings chooses to find work where he can gain operations experience working across industry verticals.
Erik: What made you decide not to pursue venture capital career directly after your MBA? Hammans: Well, I had some flashbacks when I was interning at a DC firm that it felt a little bit too similar to investment banking in that, it’s Hammans wearing a suit in a shiny building in a downtown area, looking at business models and plans and it just didn’t feel – I wasn’t – I wasn’t in love with it in the same way that – I needed to sort of be in the trenches, I needed to be talking with sales people, I needed to be talking with product developers and technologists themselves as opposed to being abstract in a way and so it was tremendously important ‘cause I wanted to continue to get operational experience which is kind of a strange word, I don’t really think we consider operational to be as sexy as it is, but to me is where the rubber hits the road. It’s where all the problems are if you don’t understand them at that particular place and time then you aren’t likely to get it and you’re able - I think you’re more likely to kinda get up in hype or have a very distorted view of things. So, I realized that I wanted to be in the weeds and particularly the location. So you know venture capitalists are working with a set of information about like the world that is – when it’s coming in the form of the actual business plans, apparently it’s very—very poor data, very poor information and so the best venture capitalists I found were people who had a lot of operational experience and they just built up this amazing set of pattern recognition kind of mechanisms, but to be good at it, you really do need to have tremendous expertise and experience with verticals and technologies and have a wonderful set of relationships; otherwise, it’s not different enough from just kind of a - one of pure functional role. So, I wanted to be able to go back and spend time learning and doing with an idea that maybe I could eventually go back to but not necessarily that I had to.