The Commons Digest (02/22/2023)

The COmmons Insider Newsletter

This Week's Discussion‍

Talking BizOps with Stuart Wilson

Learning at The Commons

‍150+ members started new Sprints last month! Final week to join the waitlist to get front-line access to our March cohorts.

If someone forwarded this to you, subscribe here.

Your Weekly Level Up

🔥 Hot Topic: Questins to ask when considering working at a Seed Stage company

✏️ Career Resource: Cool Jobs + Intros to Hiring Managers

✅ Community Reccos: Living doc templates

💭 Thought Starter: The critical role of Ops in Uber's early days

💡Brain Teaser: 🛗

🚀 Community Share: Wrapping up our first writing cohort


Talking BizOps with Stuart Wilson, Senior Director of BizOps and Strategy at Hotel Enigne

We recently hosted Stuart Wilson, Senior Director of BizOps & Strategy at Hotel Engine, for a speaker event focused on his career journey from Investment Banking to BizOps, and his learnings as an operator in tech. If you’re a member of The Commons, you can view the recording here. For everyone else, we enlisted the help of ChatGPT to summarize the transcript into key takeaways below 👇

PS - if you want to unlock full access to workshops like these - past and future - apply to join The Commons' private community.

Pivoting into BizOps

How to evaluate the risk of moving from investment banking (or any other industry) to a startup:

  • Determine what you are solving for and what you want to learn ➡️
  • Consider if you can achieve your goals in your current role or if you need to look elsewhere
  • If you want to learn a new skill, assess the level of risk you are willing to take to achieve it. Joining a startup is typically thought to be riskier than remaining in industry (eg. banking, consulting, F500, etc).
  • To do this, use a two-part framework:
  • What is the most important thing you want to accomplish in the next 12-18 months?
  • What is the level of risk you are willing to take to achieve that goal?
  • If you want to learn from the best and the brightest, you may consider joining a more established player that has built out leadership and development experience and coursework. You typically won't find many built-out processes or formal L&D opportunities at smaller companies
  • Regardless of your decision, continue to learn and grow your skills as much as you can

If you're looking to pivot into a company in a different industry than your background, will you have to down-level your role or title?

  • Whether or not you have to take a step back when pivoting roles into a new industry really depends on the situation
  • Generally, it is easier to level up when you go down in size of company than it is to do the opposite, from a title or role perspective
  • Building a brand with years of experience and different companies under your belt can make it easier to be seen as an expert in a particular area and to double down in that area, but it can be more challenging to switch to something completely different after building a deep bench of experience in one area (i.e. you may risk pigeon-holing yourself if you stay in one field for too long -- unless, that is, you're confident you want to continue in that field)
  • Some companies may be willing to give more freedom to someone with high potential, even if the candidate doesn’t have the exact experience they are looking for. The most successful paths to finding an opportunity where someone would give you a chance may be at the earliest stage where both you and the company are taking a risk, or at the very late stage with defined rotational programs for learning and development.
  • Sometimes when transitioning into a new industry, it's hard to know what level of title to target, especially if coming from a non-tech background (tip: check out peers on LinkedIn, who work at other similar sized companies)

What are some common pitfalls to avoid when interviewing for BizOps roles?

  • Spending too much time talking about experience and trying to convince the interviewer that you can do the operational role if you don't come from an executional background
  • Spending too much time on your intro - interviews are meant to be conversations. Give a quick 2-3 minute pitch on your background, and leave time to dig deeper.
  • Not being able to demonstrate that you can flex well into working with others, especially if coming from a more individual contributor role such as banking or investing
  • Not being able demonstrate that you can do hard analytics work or think strategically, especially if coming from a consulting role that relies heavily on frameworks
  • And from the interviewer side: Stereotyping candidates based on their background rather than assessing their individual skills and fit for the role

Succeeding in a BizOps role

What are the critical skills you need to be successful in a Business Operations role in tech?

  • Strategic mindset: ability to provide structure and make informed decisions
  • Analytical horsepower: proficiency in working with data and providing insights/recommendations
  • Project management: ability to manage cross-functional projects and drive outcomes
  • Relationship building: capability to build cross-functional relationships and influence without direct authority

What are some of the different career tracks for someone working in an operations role at a tech company?

  • Option 1: Continuing down the business path and becoming more senior, such as a COO, CEO, CFO, or GM
  • Option 2: Carving a path into product management, strategic finance, or the data and analytics team
  • Ultimately, you can create your own route and career path, as there is no direct defined path to any of these roles
  • Take a look at examples of people who have successfully moved from a business function to a C-suite position, such as the former CEO of SurveyMonkey who started in BizOps and became the CEO in less than eight years

There's so much more to unpack from this discussion, like:

How do BizOps roles differ at a large vs small company?

How can you bring yourself up to speed quickly as a new hire?

Advice on “building the plane while flying it”.

Best practices for driving alignment with stakeholders in a cross-functional setting.

We uncover all of that and more in the full article ⬇️

Keep Reading


What’s happening at The Commons


Upcoming events

Mentor Office Hours


Mentor Office Hours are a chance to connect with two senior voices of our community and ask them questions on anything you're currently tackling: whether that be your job search, pivoting into a new function, or a challenge you're facing on-the-job. Mentors for this Office Hours are: Milda (Strategy & Operations @ HelloFresh) and Madhav (Payments Operations Manager @ GlossGenius).

Wednesday, February 22nd at 7PM ET
Community Members Only

‍Register here

Micro Sprints


Soon, we'll be launching Micro Sprints! Micro Sprints are compact, flexible and interactive learning experiences to build hyper-specific skills that increase your impact as you scale your career in tech. Geared towards any business generalist who wants to invest in growing their toolkit. Our first two Micro Sprints will tackle:

  • Advanced SQL: Cohort + Funnel Analysis
  • Mastering Dashboards

Open to everyone

‍Register here for early access!

Past events

‍ICYMI we recently hosted these events. Members can find recordings on our platform.

  • Automating Workflows: Part 3: Alexis Lopez, Business Operations Tech & Automation Manager at Spotify, joined us for the final instalment of the automating workflows series. Part 3 was centered around building Slackbots to aid in workflow automation.
  • Speaker Series: Evaluate a Startup like a VC ft. Banana Capital: Last week we hosted Turner Novak, founder/GP at Banana Capital! Turner gave the community insight into what a VC looks for in a startup, enabling members to better evaluate startups they're looking to join.
  • Go-to-Market Workshop: Community members Liam (Director of Operations - Canada, RenoRun), Luis (GM at Alto, ex-GM at Shef), and Rachel (Strategy & Operations at Google) covered the basics of developing a go-to-market strategy including Market Sizing, GTM strategy & adaptability "on the ground".
  • Open House: Our mentors provided an overview of The Commons Sprints, and critical skills to succeed in generalist roles in today's tech landscape. Missed it? Check out the recording here.

We are opening up our doors on March 1! New memberships are closed through February, but you can join the waitlist now to have the best chance of getting in.

Here are some admissions dates to keep in mind:

  • February - New enrollments are currently closed but apply now to bump your name up the waitlist!
  • March - We'll re-open to new members in March! Existing community members and waitlist applicants will have first priority to secure a seat.



‍Below are the Sprints kicking off the week of March 20th. We expect these seats to go quickly when we re-open admissions (we sold out in January!). By joining the waitlist, you'll have priority access to join us. Here are our March Sprints:

We're also now accepting a limited number of Community Only members. If you're interested in joining the community only (instead of participating in a Sprint), you can also apply via the waitlist below.


‍Explore Sprints // Join the Waitlist

‍Join the Waitlist



Questions to ask when considering working at a Seed Stage company

There's nothing better than having an entire community to rely on, when you're tackling something new at work. ⚡️

️ Here's one of the many topics the community tackled together this week...

Big thanks to Gina, Omar, Raza, Felicia, Connie, and Haley for sharing your advice! 💚

‍Some thoughts:

  • Questions around work environment
  • Chat with current employees. "I think the best way to learn about work culture / env. is talking to current or ex employees!" Be sure to also ask current employees about their working style and their manager's style.
  • What percentage of the work is reactive?
  • Questions for Management Style:
  • How often are 1:1s done?
  • How is success measured in this role and how is growth managed (eg. do they have formal performance reviews)?
  • When was the last time someone on the team made a mistake and how was it handled?
  • Questions for Runway + Business Growth:
  • Ask how the company is doing and preface it with how the tech industry is doing. Be explicit and ask about the length of runway. You can offer to sign an NDA to increase the comfort level. Note that it isn't unreasonable for them to not share this info until the final round or until they've given you an offer.
  • Double down on:
  • Understand the key financial metrics the company is optimizing for
  • Understanding key milestones the company needs to hit before the next funding round or profitability (plus, what are the biggest challenges in hitting those milestones? What are the things that need to go right for the company to be successful? Who will work on these things? What will the tradeoffs be if they aren't hit, and when would decisions around that be made?)
  • What are key hiring plans - any other large anticipated cost buckets?
  • What is the exit strategies they're evaluating / striving for?
  • Who are the main advisors to the founders?

Read More + Add To The Thread


Your weekly level up

CFJs (cool f'ing job)  🔥🌶

There's no better way to get your foot in the door than by being referred directly to the hiring manager (or meeting the hiring manager yourself!). Our job board has been filled with tons of exciting roles lately, with the opportunity to be referred directly to the hiring manager.Non-community members can apply directly via the links below. Community members - be sure to reach out to the individual listed in Slack so that you can learn more about the role and secure that referral! Not sure how to make an intro? Check our our outreach template at the bottom of this post.And now, onto the roles ⬇️

  • ResQ is hiring a Product Manager | Toronto | Go work with our mentor Jordy! Community members, DM here here.
  • Houzz is hiring a Financial Systems Analyst | Remote US | Community, Kareem used to work at Houzz, so you can pick his brain 😉
  • Uber is hiring for their Uber for Business team | NYC or SF | Community members, there are tons of folks who work at Uber at The Commons. Search for them in #wins or #intros!
  • Fondue, a Shopify app that is helping ecommerce brands grow profitably, is hiring for an Ops Associate | Remote - eastern US | Community, ping Abraham (he's the Founder + CEO and a member of The Commons!)
  • Anthropic, a competitor of OpenAI, is hiring on their BizOps team | SF, hybrid
  • BizOps at Figma | SF, NYC, Remote | 2+ years of relevant experience in investment banking, management consulting, private equity, corporate planning, business finance, analytics, or related fields + SQL

Looking for more opportunities? Head to the community job board!


Living Doc Templates 📝

This thread prompted quite the discussion. Check it out and add to it here!


The critical role of Ops in Uber's early days 🚗


Check out the article here. And add your thoughts to the thread here.


A man who lives on the 12th floor of a building takes the elevator every day to go down to the ground floor to go to work or to go shopping. When he returns in the evening, he takes the elevator to the seventh floor and walks up the stairs to the 12th floor to reach his apartment. Why does he do this? Note that if it’s a rainy day, or if there are other people in the elevator, he goes to his floor directly. Also, he hates walking.

Check out the answer here.


Wrapping Up Our First Writing Cohort ✏️

‍"Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens." - Ray Bradbury

‍Congrats to everyone who participated in our writing cohort - we're so impressed by the quality of writing talent, the vulnerability in the stories shared and for everyone who hit "publish"!


Interested in more?
The Commons Digest (03/09/2023)
The COmmons Insider Newsletter
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The Commons Digest for 03/01/2023
The Commons Digest (02/15/2023)
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