I spent the last four years investing in high impact startups and helping them find product-market fit. While they all professed a desire to be data-driven and iterate rapidly, only a few realized that goal. Implementing a good product analytics process and creating a transparent, data-informed culture across an entire team continue to be extremely hard problems — only getting harder as every growing company becomes a “big data” company and wonders how “AI” will affect them. These are tired buzzwords, but have unfortunately real implications.
If you were to use one word to summarize my career, it would definitely be ‘analytics.’
My career began over a decade ago, when I departed from my hometown in Iowa for the Bay Area to join an economic consulting firm called The Brattle Group. It was here I honed my chops in statistical analysis, working with some of the brightest economists in the industry, including Nobel Laureate Daniel McFadden.
However, like many transplants before me, I was bit by the local tech bug; instead of pursuing my Econ PhD, I enrolled at Stanford Business School. This was a fascinating time for me; it was my first real introduction into the business and tech world. In fact, I was so excited about continuing my business education that I joined McKinsey’s Los Angeles office, with the goal of helping companies make better decisions based on their data.
My McKinsey experience was rather unique in that I got the opportunity to help launch a company called Periscope Solutions, McKinsey’s first foray into enterprise software. While I enjoyed my work consulting with other companies, I had always struggled with inability to actually execute and launching a product filled that need. From the experience of developing and deploying this software, I also came to the conclusion that a major disruption was about to occur in the technology consulting field. This led me to join a handful of fellow McKinsey alums and become a founding member of a digital consulting company that was eventually acquired by Booz (Booz Digital).
On my fifth or so day of work as content writer at Amplitude, I turned to my neighbor Jason Kuhlman and asked him how he’d ended up as a graphic designer here. “It wasn’t very straightforward,” he said with a laugh.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone these days who couldn’t say the same thing about their own career trajectory. After chatting with some of my new coworkers and doing some poking around (it’s amazing how great LinkedIn is for e-stalking), I realized that pivoting is not uncommon among the employees at Amplitude. Suddenly, it didn’t seem so strange that I was a biosciences PhD dropout from Stanford, now writing content for a tech startup. (In fact, I’m not even the first person at Amplitude with that claim to fame.)
It certainly was not a straightforward path, but here I am now at Amplitude – and how glad I am, indeed.
The route by which I got into sales is pretty unusual.
I majored in Electrical Engineering, with a focus on device materials and solid state physics. I spent my summer internships working in circuit design at Cisco and Broadcom. I got the chance to work with a professor on an incredible project: designing the logic for a Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure monitor.
My brain is wired for engineering. And yet I was very unhappy at these jobs, toiling away at my computer by myself. I briefly considered going to culinary school so I wouldn’t have to choose between creating things and getting to be around other people. I worked for a restaurant for three months and discovered it was an incredibly difficult industry to work in.
Then, I found sales.
Now, I get to interact with people all day and also put aspects of my engineering training to use. If there are any extrovert-engineers out there who are unhappy at their jobs, I thought I’d share my story in case it would inspire them to try their hand at sales. As it turns out, a background in engineering is very helpful for my job at Amplitude, where I sell an analytics platform to largely technical customers.