Mentor Spotlight: Fernando @ Yelp

Mentor Spotlight

To summarize Fernando's career journey in one line: Consumer Investment Banking @ Deutsche Bank → BizOps & Strategy @ Yelp (focused on improving visibility into our Community organization as well as doubled our post-sale side of the business) → Growth PM @ Yelp (focusing on Mobile Site app installs)

The Basics

Describe yourself with 3 emojis & give us a little context on why you chose them!

🕺🏽 - I’m a Latin Dancer so as this takes up about 3 of my weekdays after work, I thought it was only right

👨🏾‍💻 - The second emoji was based on now working in tech and being behind a computer

🤳🏽 - Lastly, while I am a self-proclaimed iPhone photographer that never edits photos, I am also part of the Yelp Elite Squad in San Francisco (and have a new-found love for good food), which means that we get invited to events at restaurants and venues to write a review about them!

Where are you currently located?

📍 Currently live and work in San Francisco, working remotely

Career Pivots

What prompted you to want to pivot industries from Investment Banking to tech?

From my time in Investment Banking, I gained a lot of expertise in the consumer industry (retail, home services, franchise) and researched many companies in the space. However, when I looked at the next phase of my career, I wanted to use that expertise, along with the skills I had gained in banking, to be a part of building one of these companies.

How did you identify what role you wanted to shift to?

At first, when I looked at roles, I went for anything and everything, ranging from startups to big tech companies. In leaving investment banking, I  knew I wanted a role that was not FP&A heavy as that was not my expertise, but that would allow me to combine the analytical skills that I had learned, with a big-picture view of decision making. This led me to BizOps.

From there, I educated myself on what I was actually interested in. From my time working in investment banking, I naturally gravitated towards the consumer space.

Then, through careful research and introductory conversations, I decided that Big Tech and helping a larger group optimize would be the best fit for me and where I could deliver the most impact.

How did you find the role?

I found the role on LinkedIn and applied through the Yelp careers page.

Since entering tech, you’ve actually recently internally pivoted into Product. What excites you about Product?

What excites me about Product is the ability to think ahead of the curve and make some big bets in what you hope to move with respect to metrics. I am excited about going from just analyzing the products that I work with to ideating on new products & initiatives that we can do to improve the Yelp experience overall.

I think I am uniquely positioned to be successful in this role as a result of my Strategy & Operations background. Now that I have gotten a lot of knowledge about the company and have worked with many stakeholders across the organization, I can use that to be able to discuss ideas and products that we want to launch with a clear understanding of tradeoffs and considerations for the business at large.

After also working in Strategy & Operations, I have the data expertise and comfort to run my own analyses, explore the data that we have at Yelp and start to ideate a little more from the data.

Lastly, since I have worked on many different projects in my time at Yelp already, I feel comfortable proposing some new ideas and products that could be very beneficial to the team!

How did you make the internal pivot? Any advice for others looking to make an internal pivot?

I had an honest conversation with my manager about my career progression and what I was hoping to do next at the company.

Then I started having informational coffee chats with colleagues that I had worked with before who were in roles I was interested in. Once I knew what roles I was interested in, I made sure to speak with my manager on the pros and cons as well as where she thought that I would make the greatest impact.

I decided on Product and specifically Growth Product Management to continue working at the intersection of new product development and optimizations within our current system.

Advice: 

  1. Don’t be afraid to have an honest conversation with your manager as they are the ones that can facilitate intros with other groups that they feel may be best for you
  2. The work that you do in your current role whether it’s similar or not to the new role that you are pursuing matters! How you perform today will reflect on how you will perform in your new job, so always strive to do a great job.

What was the interview process like, how was it similar/different to Investment Banking recruiting?

The interview process for any job in technology is definitely intensive but very doable 

  1. Recruiter prescreen (30 mins with a recruiter) 
  2. Technical assessment of sort (Excel, SQL, case study) 
  3. Case round 
  4. Final round interviews

Unlike IB recruiting where you study a lot on a general topic and concepts, in tech recruiting it is more urgent to know the industry and the company very well. Think about:

  1. How does the company make money? What are competitors in the industry doing? 
  2. What skills do you have coming from IB that can translate? Can you combine the detailed knowledge and the higher level strategic thinking to deliver a great result/analyses?

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

Coming in from IB and looking for a role, I thought that there was only Strategy & Operations. However, after having some time in the industry, I realized that everyone does have a different path and once you are in tech, there are many different career paths.

I also have learned and appreciated it’s possible to stay at one company and be supported to find what your ideal career path is.

When pivoting from Investment Banking into tech, what have been the biggest changes you’ve noticed? What surprised you?

I have noticed that you can take a step back from one project to focus on the bigger picture. I have also seen that I can have more of a say in a room, almost immediately, and can drive towards change. 

I was also immediately surprised by how much you can learn and do in such a short amount of time, even in a large tech company!

The Commons

List 1-3 of your favorite things about being a mentor

  1. Seeing mentees get the concepts that we are discussing in our workshops
  2. Being able to help mentees not only during but after the Sprints with finding jobs, discussing the process and in some cases even being able to provide a referral
  3. Hearing from mentees the clarity that they gained from spending time in a Sprint 

You actually participated in the Product Sprint as a mentee - what was that experience like? How did it help you with your recent transition into product?

My Product sprint as a mentee was actually my first introduction to what is behind the mysterious “curtain” of Product. I learned a lot from being in the sprint, working through the materials and coming up with some of the key skills that I already see myself replicating now! 

I would say that it helped give me perspective and understand a little more about what the different “roles” within Product can be. My mentor, Thiago, was a Growth PM and it was great to understand how he was on the frontline thinking about what else can be done to ensure that the company continues to see success in the future.

What should people who are thinking about joining The Commons know about it?

People who join The Commons should know that this is much more than any single Sprint. This truly has been a community, a group of people who support one another professionally and otherwise. It has been great to meet people outside of the professional environment, discuss sports, life and such. These people are not only colleagues in this community, but friends outside of that!

Tell us about your current role! 

What’s the role? What team are you on? How are the key goals of the team and how does it drive impact for the business? 

Current Role & Team : Growth PM within our Consumer Product org 

Key goals for my team involve increasing Yelp app installs on the mobile site

Driving impact: Yelp monetizes traffic through app installs and eventual ad delivery to these consumers. Increasing app installs has several downstream impacts including more contributions from users to businesses, more sessions within our platform and more value for businesses who join Yelp.

Tell us about a cool project you’ve worked on

Project Objective: Understanding Contribution Breakdown by Yelp Users

Project Overview: This project worked to analyze how different groups of Yelp users contributed on the platform, what type of contributions they had, and also how that mix shift has changed over time. The goal here was to understand if/when we have seen this shift change and how this can help inform our future decisions on the population of users that we target today and how we can!

Your Role: Associate, BizOps (sole project owner)

What was your favorite part? What was very fun about this project was that we were working with contributions that I, alongside my coworkers, had made. As such, seeing the actual value that Yelp sees from a myriad of users was great. It was also impressive to see the contributions of some of our most tenured users and how much value they see and give to the app.

Advice for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps!

What advice would you give to your former self at the beginning of your job search? 

The advice I would give to my former self is to be intentional from the start of the job search and find what you are passionate about. There are so many companies and amazing roles out there that you can get lost. By narrowing down and being honest with yourself as to what you want, you can cut through all the noise and buzzwords and find what you want. 

There are so many people in the tech industry as well that want to help you. Don’t be afraid to connect with that college alum, that old friend, that 2nd LinkedIn connection. That coffee chat will help you know if that role is right for you or not as well as if the company is right for you.

Something Fun

Two truths and a lie:

  1. I cramped up in my first half marathon and had to lightly walk/jog the last 1.5 miles.
  2. I have danced competitively for the last 4 years and have won 2 medals in the “Amateur Salsa” category 
  3. I have participated in 3 different San Francisco intramural volleyball leagues and never gotten to the playoffs with my team

Interested in following in Fernando's footsteps? Check out The Commons Strategy & Operations Sprint and Product Sprint.

Interested in more?
What's the difference between BizOps and Chief of Staff?
Resource
What's the difference between BizOps and Chief of Staff?
Two roles that are typically a good fit for generalists are BizOps and Chief of Staff. Both are generalist roles with a lot of overlap but also some key differences.
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