Career Pivots

Pivoting from enterprise to startup and engineering to business, in a pandemic

January 28, 2021

Career pivots of any type are challenging. Although “pivot” may be an understatement when going from a 14-year engineering career in large enterprises to becoming the first business hire at a tech startup.

When I graduated college with an engineering degree, I had never even considered looking for a job in a startup environment, as there was almost no exposure to the startup community and the traditional career path was very common for engineering grads. After working at several large companies and finally feeling the desire to make a career shift, I decided to go back to school and enrolled in an Executive MBA program. As an engineer, I felt my business acumen was a weak spot, and through this process I was able to find the confidence that I could be successful making the jump to almost anything I wanted, if the opportunity arose.

Breaking into the startup ecosystem

Toward the end of the program, I was introduced to the startup ecosystem which led me to find Propel. I was eventually given the opportunity to join a seed stage company heading up BizOps, and with a young family at home and the extra challenges brought about by the pandemic, this was no small decision. One of the largest reservations for someone in my personal situation was the long term financial uncertainty of joining an early stage startup with a finite runway compared to the job security of a large company.

However, with the community support and resources I had access to through Propel, I had the confidence that I could successfully make the transition - and more importantly build a strong network as a safety net and for future opportunities.

A strong network and community in action

Six months later, finding a professional community has been even more valuable than I could have imagined. I’ve participated in many useful group events, and meetings with advisors and other members; every time I come away with more knowledge that has allowed my career pivot to not only be successful, but more engaging and enlightening.

I’ve connected with others who have either already gone through or are currently living the same situations I am currently experiencing, whether just to be a sounding board or to help find solutions to problems. One of the more impactful experiences was that 3 months into my new role, I participated in a Propel learning track, which is a mini course on a skill or topic. It was timed perfectly - the topic was strategic planning, and I was navigating actual strategic planning with our leadership team. The sessions taught me best practices by other startup leaders that have had success, and significantly improved my work.

The most fulfilling part of my career shift so far is that I have built up an entirely new, engaging, and resourceful network of people that I would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise; creating a lasting impact on my knowledge, relationships, and career growth.

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