How My Time At A Large Corporation Prepared Me For Startup Success

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

Large corporations and venture capital (VC)-backed startups exist in parallel universes. I have lived in both of them, observing that both require extraordinary work ethic and dedication while offering intense career growth. But despite their similarities, there are minimal connections between these two universes. That said, my time in the corporate world prepared me exceptionally well for a career as a VC-backed startup C-suite executive.

I joined McKinsey, the gold standard of CEO and board-level corporate strategy consulting, as an associate after more than 20 (not a typo) 90-minute, in-depth case study interviews with partners. During my first several years at the firm, my day-to-day involved performing a significant amount of analysis for client partners. It was a great opportunity to apply the learnings from my graduate program while being immersed in constant formal and on-the-job training in problem solving and analysis. These skills have served me well as chief marketing and strategy officer across many different enterprise application market spaces, including electrical engineering design automation, cybersecurity, customer relationship management, supply chain and data center infrastructure.

Unlike many McKinsey alumni, who naturally head to corporate planning development and strategy roles, I returned to my Silicon Valley roots to join the first of what would be eight (and counting) VC-backed startups. Looking back, I have had the opportunity to reflect on how my time at McKinsey led me to this unusual outcome.

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