BLUF: I have a very good track record in a very young but growing industry, but I am exploring what career options I would qualify for in more established organizations.

Greetings! I found this forum as I was looking for a place to discuss management and maybe find some wisdom from those with more experience. One of my most important questions is with regards to my management career :)

Straight out of education (Management Science bachelor's degree), I joined a tech/e-commerce company that pioneered and became market leader in a brand new industry - a little bit similar to how Facebook and Google pioneered and created new market space in their respective industries, albeit not being the very first companies of their type.

Over my 3-4 years here I significantly helped my employer grow from a post-startup (200 employees) to a young multinational tech/ecommerce company with over 1000 employees

My time here allowed me to wear multiple hats and manage multiple projects across various general business functions (e.g. data management, CRM, product management, localization). I was given plenty of responsibilities and am constantly working with senior management (though I am not a senior manager yet).

However, I am now concerned about how I could transition from a young company to a more established and larger organization - should I ever need to.

The main issues I think are:
1. my experience wearing multiple hats - what kind of corporate roles value this experience? Most management roles (except very senior) are confined to one function
2. the fact that I started managing at a younger age
3. the fact that I worked in the same industry, which is also non-traditional

Some people have suggested I consider becoming a freelance consultant or set up my own business, but after carefully evaluating that, I feel that would ruin my life. As I am starting a new family and will have increasing commitments in my personal life, I foresee that I will very soon need the security and timetable of an established organization/corporation :-)

 Appreciate any insights and advice!

alextupolev's picture

 Hmmm... no ideas? Is my situation that rare that not even the smartest, analytic, entrepreneurial and management-minded people here can come up with some possible scenarios for career growth? :)

Let me know what you think please!



alextupolev's picture


Kevin1's picture


It is hard for us to tell.  We don't really know what you want to do.  Do you have a short list of the types of work you want to do?  How well does your experience currently match those options?  If you were to look up those roles on job boards, do you have 75%+ match to achievements in your experience? 

If you can't match 75% or more, then you may need to look at lesser roles.  Alternatively, can you volunteer for the types of work that will give you your required experience?  

How strong is your network?  Do you have contacts with more mainstream companies? (Assuming that is where you want to go)

there is a cast on changing roles and industries.  Quite worth checking out.

Hope this helps a bit.

kind regards


alextupolev's picture

 Kevin1, thank you for answering. You helped me understand that I might have been unclear about my goal, which I will try to summarize again:
I want to figure out whether my achievements to date would qualify me for a middle or senior management level role at a more established/larger scale corporation than my current one.

And if not, what I need to do to get there.

Note my question is not [necessarily] about a move to another industry or role type, but to another size of organization (much larger scale).

An example to illustrate what kind of move we are talking about:
suppose I worked my way up fast from intern to manager at a company like Pinterest or tumblr. over 3 years. I have done a lot in very little time as the company is small - but now could I join the leadership ranks of a larger company like Google or Amazon?

If not, what do I need to do to get there?

I believe my achievements and experience do match various job descriptions in most cases; the only point that is not entirely a match is "years of work experience". I believe that this may be simply because in larger companies, one needs to wait 5 years to be promoted, whereas in a smaller company it's all up to your achievements (I was promoted 3 times).

I hope my question and issues are clearer now.

Kevin1's picture

Hi Alex,

It is still difficult to say.  Companies that are strict about X number of years experience would have their reasons for doing so, and I think that actual accomplishments outway any token longevity achievement.

That's my opinion though and your milage might vary.  If you get to the interview stage, you should be able to knock 'em dead with your achievement stories.  You have a ready made weakness that's easy to describe and easy to describe what you are doing about it.

if you do want to move on, pick a company you have an interest in and see if you can get 15 minutes with someone in their HR to discuss what they might be looking for mow or in the future.

Good luck.


kmcfetridge's picture

Hi Alex -

Going to a bigger company will likey drive you crazy - I did it and found that the rules and entrenched power brokers were a terrible drag on my loose-tight style of management. You've found out how to do and lead and a 1,000 person multinational isn't that bad at all.  You may want to get engaged in professional societies if you are curious to find out how things go elsewhere and to learn new stuff.  Getting on with a dinosaur isn't that good of an idea in my opinion.  Resume stamps, unless it's with Harvard Business School, Wharton, or McKinsey won't matter as much as the results you get.  If you're happy, stay.

Yet if you want to go out and test the waters, the world of consulting is exciting and challenging.  Every day with a client is like you're starting over again.  The downside is the travel and away from family/home.  If you can get on with a big consulting group with great reputation, you'll be in a good position in 3-5 years to come back to a senior position in almost any firm. 

Best of luck and I'll listen in to see how you decide to go


Ken McFetridge

jib88's picture

Alex -

First thing to do is set your expectations appropriately and think about what it is you really want.

I would be surprised if you were able to get anything higher than a first (or possibly second) line manager position at most large companies. It's certainly not impossible, but it's unlikely. Might be a better chance of this at a "younger" company that has seen a lot of growth over the last 10-15 years (you named a few good examples in tech). A company that has seen that kind of growth will be more likely to have a larger percentage of senior ranking individuals who are younger, so it won't seem so odd. If you're really looking for that kind of senior position realize that you're cutting down the number of potential employers, and you might never find the right job at the right time. It's not impossible but it's going to be difficult.

There's a reason people look for X+ years of experience for director-level roles and up. It's an easy way to help ensure the candidates have had a good variety of experience. You may think you're ready now and that you know a lot, but just think how much more you'll know once you've tripled the amount of time you've spent working. Someone with only a few years is unlikely to have dealt with all the difficult situations that may come up in a senior level position at a large company (downturns, layoffs, mergers). The politics of how you get things done at a large company are different from a smaller company as well, and it takes time to learn & master that.

As for where your variety of difference experience wearing multiple hats would be most valued - Large firms that are very decentralized would be one place to start. Something like J&J comes to mind as a company with a lot of different business units. You could also look into management consulting or finance (though not my areas of expertise, I would guess that you need to have a broad understanding in those fields). Platform groups in large companies will be another place I think find a greater demand for cross-functional skills.

You'll be limited by how flexible you want to be with industry/function/location. I'd recommend broadening out beyond the tech industry if possible. It will give you more options down the road. There are plenty of places where you can still be involved in high-tech work while in a completely non-tech industry.


alextupolev's picture

Firstly, thanks for the great and detailed replies.

Just wanted to underline one of the main reasons I want to move is because I want to build a family; so the main ingredients I am looking for are financial stability/growth (through a senior position) and regular hours (instead of my crazy, Silicon Valley style hours!). Somehow, consulting and freelancing seem like a no-no to this end...

Maybe another, slightly older and more established tech company might meet these needs?

One question:

@JIB88 - what do you mean by "platform groups"? And do you have examples of other decentralized firms?