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Where can I be a businessperson working with geeks?
October 8, 2010 8:48 AM   Subscribe

How can I find a workplace that is largely geeks but requires a business person to do things like manage people, conduct business development, etc? Industries and specific companies would be super helpful.

I am a good businessperson (strategic, no nonsense, smart) and love thinking about business problems. I also dislike some of the BS inherent in corporate life (tedious meetings, bureaucracy, and especially stupid people).

In a future career move I would like to be around really smart and capable geeks. For example, I have worked with lawyers, market research people and technology geeky people and I always get along really well with people who have these very specialized skills because I have two qualities that they like: I have curiosity and respect for their skills, and I do not waste their time (do my own due diligence before asking for help, prepare for conversations, follow up effectively).

I've thought about the following companies/types, and would also appreciate any insight from anyone with experience of them:

Google: seems awesome, but is it really corporate? (I like engineers)
Consulting: wouldn’t want the crazy lifestyle of Bain/BCG/McKinsey – is there a boutique firm with better lifestyle?
Start ups: how to find a good one?

More details on me if it’s helpful:

Experience:

I have worked in entertainment for almost all of my career (aside from internships at a magazine and with a non-profit, ill fated first job in fashion, and waitressing). I have written for TV, directed for TV, produced for TV, edited for TV, have an MBA from a top 5 school and currently work at an executive level at one of the largest entertainment companies in the world, with strategy and corporate sales experience. I’m in Los Angeles and would prefer to stay here.

Personality:

I cut to the point pretty quickly. Probably my biggest strength and my biggest weakness (I’m very tell, not ask), and people either love it (thank you for not wasting my time, being clear) or hate it (you didn’t dance around my feelings). I will do best in an environment where at least the people above me love it.

All that being said, I’m friendly and get along really well with a wide diversity of people. I am an extrovert yet sales does tax my limits of extroversion (I don’t want to stay out drinking really late with co-workers, thank you).

I am very confident and am a woman in a largely male workplace, which can be challenging. At the same time, working with all women (I have done that a few times) is a world of passive aggression I do not want to visit again. Ideally it’s 50/50 men/women, but I’m comfortable with 70/30 if I am respected and given opportunities for advancement. (I do tend to be well respected and well liked by smart men, stupid or insecure men tend to dislike me/find me threatening - I know, at least 50% my problem for probably treating them as if they are stupid)

After reading that - what pops into your mind as the perfect company/industry?
posted by rainydayfilms to Work & Money (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Product Manager role in Google meets your definition for being around geeks and using your business knowledge, but you're very unlikely to get in without a computer science background or something equally hard-core tech. The Product Marketing Manager role might tick some of your boxes though - you'd be working with a bunch of people including engineers to some degree, and it fits with your background.
posted by StephenF at 8:53 AM on October 8, 2010


Sparkfun
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:01 AM on October 8, 2010


You're in LA?

I'd imagine any of the large video game companies would be interested in someone with your background- they all have major presences there.
posted by mkultra at 9:10 AM on October 8, 2010


Videogame companies may be a good fit; but the larger they are the more BS you're going to have to deal with no matter what. A startup game company like Zynga may be a good bet -- they've opened an LA office and are actively hiring from what I've heard.

BTW, I come from a similar background as you (worked in production, then got an MBA and realized I want to work with geeks). I can share some of the more private details of what I'm doing if you want to MeMail me, though it sounds like you've got your shit together more than I do.
posted by AmitinLA at 9:33 AM on October 8, 2010


Any start-up in Silicon valley or SF.

I'm not sure if you'd be a fit for my company, but if you mefi mail me your resume I can talk to our business people. We're a consumer media / technology start-up in Palo Alto.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:34 AM on October 8, 2010


You're missing a lot of companies that are in between "Startup" and "Google." My company is ten years old, about 75 people, full of some awesome people -- mostly engineering geeks -- and is in a cool field: robotics. We're stable enough that you know you're getting a paycheck every two weeks, but in a developing industry that requires agility, new markets, new applications, and new technology.

Don't dismiss small-to-medium sized companies. They can often be in more need of awesome business people than giant or tiny companies can!
posted by olinerd at 11:09 AM on October 8, 2010


Companies that require advanced technology to make their products would be a good fit. A R&D group filled with PhDs means you need to translate their skills into the market place. If the product/service is sold to businesses or professional entities rather than individual consumers, it will require business and customer facing people that also have technical skills, so it's likely to weed out the complete bullshitters.
posted by Sukey Says at 12:28 PM on October 8, 2010


Seconding videogames. There's plenty in LA, big and small. In a big company if you want to go the business development route you're not going to have much contact with the geeks, also its going to be hard to get in without relevant industry experience. Production roles will be easier to get into, and give you direct contact with the people you enjoy working alongside. In small videogame companies you can do production, management, business development and work directly with the geeks.

There are tons of videogame industry recruiters around now (for example), some also serve related industries that you might enjoy - web development, FX houses etc.
posted by Joh at 3:44 PM on October 8, 2010


Any small software company is going to be filled with geeks. And frequently, they desperately need somebody to handle the business side that can interact with geeks comfortably. I've made a career out of being the sales guy in small software companies run by geeks.
posted by COD at 5:19 PM on October 8, 2010


Newspapers! No seriously, they need both desperately.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:53 AM on October 9, 2010


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