Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Monday, October 24, 2005

...more about non-tech in to Tech companies

On my drive home I was thinking about what I had written, and may be a bit harsh. We are hiring people in with minimal tech experience, but we bring them in as Associate product managers. These are the junior wood chucks of marketing (this is a great example of a statement that will get lost in translation to most other countries, and something I wouldn't say overseas at all) (to translate - a junior wood chuck is the absolute lowest person in the organization. They have full authority to make coffee, but not much else). They are brought in there because they will be taught stuff. Then they learn and learn and learn, but it is a long road from there to the top.

My other comment about "once in it is easier" really rings true. Then you have experience, so the whole "doesn't know" is quantifiable to us. You have proof that you do know, so that discussion moves on to what kind of shoes you wore to the interview etc... (and I am only half joking here, as I have heard that said during a review. I already hadn't respected that person, and that comment did nothing to help...)

It really is all about Risk to us. The more evidence we have that you will do a good job, the more likely we are to hire you. For those with a tech degree OR lab experience (essentially, do you know what we are talking about) we know that we have 1/2 the battle won. We, obviously, push a bit on the tech experience to make sure you aren't completly full of it. Then we just push on the business side. SHow Tech mastery, and some business thoughts, and risk to us is managable/understandable.

Lacking the lab experience/degree then we have to push on the business side to see where you are or how good you are. If you are fresh out of school, then that is hard as well because then we have an unknown business person with no tech background. Risk, to us, is maximum. For a cheap enough salary, you are attractive. At that salary, you probably can't live in San Diego.

For experienced business people, it is a bit easier. We will push to understand your business thoughts, and will make sure you understand HOW to learn the tech info. At that point we are looking to see if you have shown the ability to learn other things in the past. Risk to us is the same as for tech with no business. Managable/understandable.

So - These posts sound like some serious downers for the non-tech person getting in to the tech world. Yes, empiracle evidence shows they are there. How did that happen? I dug around and asked some, and here in a very unscientific poll, are some answers..
  • Worked for a friend at a start up for 5 years. Got the experience that way. Start up stopped, then we hired
  • Came up through Sales. Sold other stuff, then transitioned to technical products, then too marketing (step down in salary to make the jump) then rose up the ladder
  • FINANCE. Many/Most/?All? the people in finance DO NOT have tech backgrounds. CFO's don't, in general, have the strong tech background. It isn't needed.
  • Started as associate product manager, and over 10 years worked way up to Senior product manager.
    • next step is director, and this person will have to leave to do that and that will be a loss for us. This problem is trying to be solved, but is hard. Lot of institutional knowledge in her head.
    • This is the long slog up. The education has been pretty hard, but she is really bright and works her butt off, so has made it
So - it is doable.

1 comment:

Mo Krochmal said...

Great info. Appreciate your insight, which should be helpful to non-tech people trying to break into this field.