Mentee Spotlight: Michelle Amand

learner Story

Meet Michelle, a Strategy + Operations Sprint alum at The Commons who made the pivot from banking to HealthTech

To summarize Michelle's career path in 1 line: Wake Forest (Finance and Psychology) → Investment Banking @ BofA (worked in both Debt Capital Markets and Leveraged, raising capital for large corporates and working cross-functionally internally and externally) → Sabbatical (took 10 months to recover, move to the suburbs, get a dog, and join The Commons!) → Operations Manager @ Little Otter (focusing on workforce management as we expand nationwide) 

Read on to learn more about why Michelle decided to join The Commons, her unexpected takeaway from the Strategy & Operations Sprint, and how she successfully made the pivot into tech after 6 years in banking.

Where are you located?

📍 Maplewood, NJ (suburb of NYC)

Why did you want to pivot industries?

‍There are a few reasons I really wanted to move out of investment banking:

  • Most obviously, burnout - 6 years of banking will do a number on you
  • Deeper industry knowledge - while I covered technology, media and telecom most recently, being in a services industry meant I understood the general landscape of the industry and my clients’ business, but my day to day work didn’t require more. I knew I wanted to be working at a startup so my work would directly impact the company’s progress towards goals and I’d have to spend time really understanding the industry.
  • Meaningful work - I was really set on working at a mission-driven company in Healthtech, specifically Mental Health, where the purpose, product/service and consumer would really resonate with me

How has your thinking around your career path changed over time?

When I first started in banking I was really driven by competition - I wanted to be promoted as fast as possible, work on the biggest deals and even one day start my own hedge fund (ambitious!). Over the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what really drives me and how my values have changed. I came to the realization that I’m more driven by ownership and impact (on a personal level and institution level) and that affected my goal of advancing in banking (which is highly competitive!).

Now when I think about my career path, I know that I will always want to be in a role that has high ownership and impact, as well as working with a great team. For me right now that’s working in Ops at Little Otter, and beyond - I’m much more flexible than I was a few years ago :) 

Joining The Commons

What was behind your decision to join The Commons?

I joined The Commons for three reasons:

  1. To better understand what a role in BizOps is at different sized companies and industries
  2. To learn the essential skills needed to pivot and succeed
  3. Accountability as I started my job search

What did you get out of the Sprint? Anything you didn’t expect?

By doing the Strategy & Operations Sprint, I got a much better understanding of structured problem solving and practice applying it to real world problems. So huge for wanting to be in a high impact role in ops! I also learned hard skills - SQL and Tableau in particular.

Something unexpected - a fiery confidence to bring to my interviews after doubting myself and my hopeful pivot for far too long. So incredibly grateful for having a mentor (shoutout Julia 🙌) recognize my strengths and my weaknesses - the weakness being my confidence. In my first week, her confidence in me affirmed that I was a good fit for the roles I was looking at. 

Now that you’ve finished your Sprint, how do you like to stay involved in the community?

After completing my Sprint in the Fall, I joined the Structured Problem Solving Learning Circle led by another mentor, Rohan, (can never get too much practice!) and I’ve also loved the S’up bot chats every other week as a chance to get to know others in the community. I’ve also had some coffee chats with others interested in HealthTech! 

Your Job Search

Tell us about your job search experience!

I mainly looked for roles on Linkedin, the #job-openings channel from The Commons Slack, and the Omna Search job board. Because I was so focused on a particular industry, I identified target companies and stalked their career pages for related roles and applied as soon as they were posted. I connected with several people in The Commons, or their friends, who were in the space, and while I didn’t get a role through a referral, I did get insights on the industry through those conversations that helped show my interest in interviews.

Tell us about your role at Little Otter!

What’s the role?

I’m currently an Operations Manager at Little Otter - a Series A pediatric mental health company. My team is called Clinical Operations and my focus is on Workforce Management. My current projects are (i) creating efficient scheduling processes so providers maintain target utilization rates, which affects profitability, and (ii) projecting provider hiring needs and creating credentialing plans to ensure we meet demand as we aim to expand to 48 states by the end of the year. 

How did you find the role?

LinkedIn, actually - I created alerts for operations roles in the healthtech space.

What was the interview process like? 

Screen with the recruiter → call with the hiring manager (Associate Director of Clinical Operations)→ zoom interview with the VP of Clinical Operations → zoom interview with the Director of Therapy (one of my stakeholders in the role) → zoom interview with the CEO.

Every interview was behavioral and really conversational. It was 3 weeks from my first interview to my offer, which included the Thanksgiving holiday.

How have the first couple months on the job been? 

So great! I have spent a lot of time getting to know people - it’s tough in the virtual setting - and understanding the company’s history and existing processes and challenges. There is a lot of trust on the team, so I’ve been able to lead some really impactful changes already.

Any other words of wisdom or motivating thoughts for people who are looking to make a similar career move? 

It can be really challenging to pivot industries and job function at the same time, but your day to day responsibilities aren’t the value you’re bringing to your next role - it’s the underlying core skills. Really take time to understand what they are and how they apply to the roles you’re interested in. Your answer to “Tell Me About Yourself” should frame these skills into why you’re a good fit for that role. 

Something fun to end it off

Tell us some of your favorites:

🎙 A favorite podcast: Work Life by Adam Grant and ReThinking by Adam Grant

📚 A favorite book: “Great on the Job” by Jodi Glickman for Nonfiction, and “Sometimes I Lie” by Alice Feeney for Fiction 

🎨 What you’re doing outside of work: DIY Home Improvement and training for a half marathon this Spring and full marathon in the fall (NYC!!)

Ready for a mentor to help you take the next step in your career? Apply to the Strategy + Operations Sprint to learn valuable skills for operations roles under the guidance of pro in the field.

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