A chorus of first-year MBA students contributed to this post for the Olin Blog, sharing their experiences on a career “tech trek” to firms on the west coast.
In October 2019, the first-year MBA students of Olin embarked on a journey to Silicon Valley to witness firsthand the energy and enthusiasm that moves the technologies building the world around us.
We visited industry leaders from different backgrounds: digital manufacturers such as Cisco, payment gateways such as Visa and Square, user-obsessed Google, transportation maverick Uber, fashion leader Gap Inc. and the biggest hosting service provider, Amazon AWS.
We started our day in the sunny California from San Jose, making our way to Mountain View before finally reaching the scenic San Mateo.
Cisco, written by Shreyas Jajoo
Give your ego a day off. This was the single most important core value of Cisco that rang multiple bells in the ears of my trek mates. This is among a unique set of ideals followed by Cisco that helps it to maintain among the lowest attrition rates in Silicon Valley.
The intent to give back to society and the monetary sum allocated to every employee to utilize in whatever form of charity they wished was a unique trait that spoke volumes to me. Cisco firmly believes and acts on creating a better, more connected and inclusive world for humankind.
We had a conversation with Rick Butler, BSEE ’80, PMBA ’86, hosting us at the company. That talk revealed to us how we could further Cisco’s goals in roles created for MBA graduates.
Google, written by Gina Wang
At Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountain View, we were hosted by Neil Hoyne, the global head of customer analytics at Google, and Flora Wang, MACC ’12, who is working as the financial analyst in Google.
We were hosted for lunch at Google’s cafeteria, after which the group moved for the Q&A session with Neil, Flora and Micheal Nordlund, MSF ’10. It was great to learn about the collaborative culture within Google, where almost everyone is approachable despite their functions and roles.
During our interaction, we found out that Google has invested heavily in diversifying their revenue streams and creating a huge portfolio for meeting the personal and professional needs of today’s users.
Visa, written by Timothy Brandt
On our visit to Visa, we were exposed to a breathtaking view of the bay. Similarly, Visa’s stock price growth of more than 45% since 2018 has simply been breathtaking.
Visa is a leader when it comes to innovations through the Internet of Things wave and acquisitions of companies. While cash is considered Visa’s biggest competitor, they are making sure to differentiate from Mastercard through value add in offering fraud services to merchants.
We found more about Visa’s mission to empower individuals and businesses, and facilitate economies to thrive and the upcoming platforms to support merchants and markets in the unbanked populations of the world.
For MBAs, Visa highlights its rotational development program, which focuses on roles within the finance department as well as opportunities within the Visa consulting team.
Speed networking round with Olin alums
We ended our first day on the tech trek by interacting with Olin alums from different walks of their careers. The food was delicious and speed networking format helped every member get face time with the alums and to have their queries answered. The networking helped the trek members create professional relationships and bond over food and common interests.
We spent the first day in the Bay Area and on the second day of our trek, we literally trekked the San Francisco downtown area.
Square, written by Karen Chen
During our visit to Square, we talked a lot about the capital services branch, which helps sellers gain access to business loans through partnerships with industrial banks, and how it is connected with real-time payment and point-of-sale data.
The presenter, an alum of WashU Olin, also talked about their considerations in determining the length and annual percentage rate in this business. They wanted to share their vision for Square and the role Square has played in empowering small business owners to scale up and improve their offerings.
Square’s Anil Bridgpal and Thorsten Jaeckel, MSF ’11, spoke to us about their passions and how they had been inspired to work and commit to Square.
Uber, written by Rohit Pandit
At Uber, we were hosted by Logan Lacy, who walked us through the MBA internship hiring program and the qualities and skill sets Uber looks for in an ideal candidate. Later, we had an opportunity to listen to an entrepreneur turned senior product manager, AJ Balance, whose firm was acquired by Uber few years ago.
We had a great discussion on the various strategic and management issues that Uber is trying to solve across the globe. The broad points of discussions ranged from how Uber maintains brand loyalty for drivers and riders to which strategies Uber adopts in tough markets such as China and South Korea.
When it came to acquiring roles at Uber, we were strongly urged to display core competencies—especially analytical and learning abilities—which are the guiding principles for anyone aspiring to succeed at Uber.
Amazon AWS, written by Shantanu Pande
Next we visited Amazon AWS offices, where we were hosted by Alex Rosenberg, BSBA ’10. He spoke to us about the growth mindset, which has been a crucial factor in Amazon’s incredible rise as one the biggest brands in the world.
He even touched upon the entrepreneurial mindset, which makes it possible for Amazon to innovate continuously and create new products for the end users.
We ended the session by taking part in a mock BPT discussion to see live how Amazon employees brainstorm solutions in their day to day lives.
GAP Inc., written by Shreeyeh Rajan
Our last company visit was to Gap Inc., located along the Embarcadero with an unforgettable view of the Bay Bridge. Scott Moore, EMBA ’08, and senior manager for university recruiting, hosted us with a tour of all of Gap’s five floors, from the sewing machines to the operating offices.
Scott mentioned that Gap has been more sustainable than other clothing brands because of its usage of cotton, a renewable source. GAP stands out from other companies as it stands for gender equity in terms of its pay, with auditors verifying that its male and female employees with equivalent experience earned the same salary.
It is strongly rooted from the beginnings of Gap with its founders—husband and wife Donald and Doris Fisher—having an equal 50% in GAP.
The whole two-day visit was an eye-opener for most of our international students. Witnessing firsthand the energy that moves the biggest tech companies in the world has motivated them further to look for opportunities with these companies.
The whole experience would not have been possible without the efforts of the Weston Career Center and Olin Technology Club leadership team. Special note of thanks to Gregory Hutchings, Satish Pawar, Braden Zoet and Shreeyeh Rajan for the efforts put in to make this a successful venture.
Lastly, we would like to thank all of the alums who took time out from their hectic schedules to interact with us and guide us.