Revenge of the MBAs: A Subjective Take on the Tech Industry
By Aubrey Donnellan '15 | january, 2014, Issue 1
Aubrey Donnellan '15
You just returned from Tech Trek and boy, you drank that complimentary Kool-Aid. You drank it so hard you've since abandoned case prep, signed up for Booth Hacks, and added TechCrunch's RSS feed to your daily to-do list. If this sounds like you, I would urge you to read on before spending your hard-earned holiday cash on flannel button-downs and dark wash jeans. Or don't, and risk combating existential night sweats until you break down and apply for a leadership rotational program.
I kid, but as someone who has been enthusiastically immersed in technology since high school (hello Robotics Club, goodbye mister prom date), I was happy to share my perspective of the industry from the eyes of a fellow Boothie. Over the years I have come to understand a sub-cultural truth that has revealed itself time and time again across every tech team, project, and company I have worked with:
It is of no matter what degree(s) you have or how many C-suites know your name. Engineers and software developers are the holy grail of human capital in the tech industry. Without them, there would be nothing to sell or market, and no business to develop.
You're thinking, tell me something I don't know Geeksquad, but the key here is that these guys and gals psychologically thrive on that very sense of ownership and are reluctant to defer decisions to their local business analyst because of it. In my opinion, if you want to survive in tech (and there is a very real opportunity here to use your MBA superpowers for innovation domination) you should try to understand this dynamic between the techies and "the others," then dive right into that bay of programmers head first!
Below are a couple ways I have inadvertently been successful in tech without being the mastermind responsible for the technology:
1) Get to know the tech team- the architects and builders. Ask them what they do for fun while their code migrates to production. It is amazing how genuine relationships pull through when you need someone on the inside to vouch for your idea from a technical feasibility standpoint.
2) Roll up your sleeves, pop the hood, and take a look at the code running behind the user interface. Ask one of your new best buds (see above) how it works and how information is passed, received, stored, and queried. You might even ask them how they would make it better if they were running the show.
Let's face it - Jeff Goldblum needed Will Smith to take down the alien mothership in Independence Day. Mark Zuckerberg needed Sean Parker to launch Facebook. The MBA and the engineer have a timelessly symbiotic relationship that when nurtured correctly can move mountains. If deep down beneath the layers of capitalist wonder you're just a kid that likes to take ball point pens apart and put them back together, you have what it takes. Don't be afraid to nerd out.