Meet Andrew, a Mentor at The Commons and Business Planning and Operations Lead at Meta (Facebook).
To summarize Andrew's career path in one line: University of Toronto, Rotman Commerce (Finance & Econ) --> Strategy @ J. Walter Thompson (pitched brands to work with us) → Various Early Stage Ventures (helped startups fundraise) --> Strategy, Analytics & Product @ Bell Canada (shipped credit products) --> Business Planning & Operations Lead @ Meta, Facebook (led a customer experience program)
Describe yourself with three emojis
🌎 I grew up living in 5 different countries and have travelled to many places, which has given me the privilege of seeing things from a global lens. As a result, I do everything with scale and leverage in mind.
📈 I’m serious about growth and pride myself on my discipline, focus, and intensity to accomplish things.
🤪 At the same time, I understand that life is supposed to be fun and am a total goofball. Ask any of my friends.
Current role & location?
📍Business Planning & Operations at Meta (Facebook) in New York City. Going into the office is optional but I go in five days a week.
What prompted you to transition careers?
I think really far down the road, and evaluate what I want to have accomplished by the end of my career (and life). Then, I work backwards to determine what skills, access, and knowledge I need to get there.
It had long been a dream of mine to live in New York City. I also wanted access to specific networks and learn particular skills. And big tech enabled me to do these things.
How did you narrow down what types of roles you wanted to shift to?
To narrow down roles, I looked at things at the intersection of (1) My strengths, (2) Activities that energized me, (3) Attributes that tech companies valued.
What was the interview process like?
I did 45+ interviews at (almost) all the big tech companies. They all follow a similar format of recruiter screen, hiring manager screen, then a final loop with 4-5 consecutive interviews. Occasionally, there was a business or quant case.
How as your thinking around career paths changed over time?
I’ve taken a much longer-term view of my career path to avoid distractions. I’ve been nudged with other opportunities that provide more compensation - in some cases, to a factor of 2x. But with a longer term view (5-10 years), I’ve managed to filter out the noise by realizing what’s truly important to me.
When pivoting from big telco to tech, what have been the biggest changes that you've noticed? Did anything surprise you?
Going from telco to big tech was a culture shock – everything was different. The skills and attitudes the organization valued. How way individuals work with each other. How leaders make decisions. I had to adapt my way of working.
I was pleasantly surprised with how much autonomy I was given to make decisions and execute.
We're so excited you've joined The Commons as a mentor! What are your favourite aspects of being a mentor here?
- Meet other growth-oriented, open-minded, and creative people
- Ability to provide impact back to the community at scale
- Learn by identifying gaps in my skills and mental models
Has there been anything unexpected about joining The Commons?
I initially thought it would be a one-way street with me teaching and mentoring. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn and be inspired by many (Hi Kris, Laura, Alex, Loren, Raza, Thiago, Max 👋).
What's your favourite way to keep involved with The Commons community (aside from mentoring, of course!)?
Staying engaged in the Slack group. A lot of good stuff there.
What should people thinking about joining The Commons know about it?
You may have the impression that The Commons is just for getting a tech job. It’s much, much more than that. You’ll be able to reap the benefits of The Commons many years down the road - especially with the community and network.
If you’re on the fence, just do it.
Tell us more about your role at Meta! What do you do there?
I’m a Business Planning & Operations Lead at Meta, Facebook. I’ll have to stay high-level here, but our team’s mandate is to improve the performance and operations of our internal teams.
We assess the opportunities and challenges that exist in certain organizations, then design and implement solutions (products, tools, processes) to capitalize on those opportunities.
Why should someone work at Meta?
Challenging problems to work on. Incredibly smart, driven, and collaborative coworkers. And the opportunity to work at a company that prioritizes employee happiness and well-being as much as the work itself.
Any fun, free work-related perks we should know about?!
Free sushi, everyday.
Thinking back on your career journey, what advice would you give to yourself as you were starting out?
Let’s say there are three companies you’d want to work for. Here’s how I’d approach the search:
- Deeply reflect to understand your strengths, experiences, and skills. Zoom out and over-generalize those things to be applicable to multiple roles and industries. Then learn how to tell your story and sell yourself.
- Aim to talk to 20 people at each company. Learn the art of the cold email and DM.
- Through (2), you’ll likely get an interview.
- Prep, do the interview, then run a retroactive. Rinse and repeat until you’re successful in getting an offer.
Who was helpful as you navigated your job search?
Mentors who taught, trained, and coached me. Family and close friends who encouraged me and lifted my spirits up. And the folks at each company who have helped me get my foot in the door.
Any other words of advice to people looking to make a similar career transition?
If I could just give one piece of tactical advice, I’d restate what I said above. If you want to work at a company, talk to 20 people there.
What's an unpopular opinion you hold about careers in tech?
Tech is not for everyone. A pivot to tech might not make sense for certain career and people profiles. A common practice is a ‘down-level’ in responsibilities to a role that is scoped at a more junior level. Big tech certainly isn’t for those who are not comfortable with driving action in ambiguous environments.
And now, a few fun tidbits about you!
Tell us some of your favourites:
🎙 Podcast: My First Million - Sam Parr, Shaan Puri
📰 Where you get your daily news: I don’t read the news!
💻 A tech company you think should be on everyone's radar: Amazon is likely already on everyone’s radar. But they are going to continue to grow at an unimaginable rate and dominate industries we haven’t even heard of yet.
📚 Book: Setting the Table - Danny Meyer
🎨 What you're doing outside of work: Writing my blog on growth, productivity and performance
🌟 A CEO or leader you admire: Shaan Puri
💬 An inspiring business quote: “Life is really a single player game. It’s all going on in your head. Whatever you think, you believe, will very much shape your reality. Both from what risks you take and what actions you perform, but also just everyday experiences of reality.” - Naval Ravikant
Join our Strategy + Operations Sprint to get 1:1 access to mentors like Andrew. PS - for community members, Andrew shared that his calendar is always open for folks who want to chat!