How I discovered my passion for Operations in tech
You’re probably familiar with the saying, ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’ implying a person of general knowledge, lacking expertise in one specific area. The complete saying, however, has been said to be, “a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” It was intended as a compliment, and while implying that a person was a generalist rather than a specialist, that they were versatile and adept at many things.
How did I find Operations? Answer: It found me
If you’re like me, you’re inspired by a wide variety of focuses and disciplines. I have so many interests that choosing what to major in for university was in and of itself a crossroads in my life, and trying to figure out where to focus for a career was more challenging still.
I started working at the age of 12 and haven’t had an idle month since. In that time, I’ve generally derived a lot of meaning from earning my own keep, learning new things and found satisfaction in many of the roles. As I’ve alluded to in my previous post, ‘How to find a career and job that you love’, I’ve lived by those 6 core principles, which ultimately led me to work all over the world in many roles and industries ranging from philanthropy, commodities, capital markets, consulting, and finally to operations in the tech industry.
What was important throughout this journey was that until I found myself as a Business Operations Manager for a tech company, I was trying to match aspects of many roles to a role/function, and no role seemed to complement and leverage my varied strengths in a meaningful way. It wasn’t until I started as a Business Operations Manager at Opencare that I hit my stride. It was in this role where I finally felt as though I was playing to my natural abilities, building upon all of my previous learnings, and that I could contribute in an important and purposeful way. Said otherwise, I was valuable being a jack of all trades.
In this first role, my responsibilities included, but weren’t limited to:
- Engaging in both operating and executive-level capacities with oversight of core business functions including HR, Finance, Corporate Strategy and all front/back office;
- Various initiatives such as geographic expansion, new product development, fundraising, and developing lightweight processes for core business functions; and
- Maintaining the company’s operating model, measuring company metrics, and driving strategy as it related to fundraising, go-to-market planning, US expansion, etc.
In other words, the scope of my role was quite limitless, and this was motivating, validating and energizing. This is also why I continued to build a career, and find success, within the discipline of Operations.
From Opencare, I went on to manage Strategic Operations at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and to where I am currently, at TripActions, where I manage both the Strategy & Operations and Product Operations teams.
My next article will speak to Business Operations, or BizOps, as a function at tech companies — what it is, and more importantly, what it isn’t — because throughout this journey I’ve come to understand one consistent thing across companies: BizOps means something different to everyone. I’ll also cover what skills will make you successful in this function.