Joe, Portfolio Manager / Chief of Staff
Movemeon candidate spotlights are a series of articles focusing on our members’ journeys into new opportunities. Here, our member explains his career journey and how he used Movemeon to find his next role.
This new Movemeon hire brings an LEK consulting background, and extensive operations and general management experience.
Can you talk a bit about the role you found through Movemeon?
I’ve joined an organisation that is in stealth mode at the moment; it is a young growth investor founded by two successful co-founders – one from Uber and one from Stuart amongst other things. They’ve both had experience starting successful companies, and now they are looking to build a platform to invest in and grow other young companies.
My role is that of Portfolio Manager; at the moment I’m operating as Chief of Staff for one of the portfolio companies. It’s all fairly young and dynamic, so I expect that my role won’t be the same in 12 months.
When I was going through the process of applying, it was actually fairly unclear exactly what the role would be. For now, I’m working with the effective CEO of one of the portfolio companies. I’m working across departments on the most pressing projects to help drive the company towards profitability. I’m working very closely with the finance team, HR, product…
There’s a lot of variation. I’ve done some of these things before, but I’m also learning a lot; adapting but delivering a lot of value, which is what I like – I like a dynamic, fast-paced environment.
What sort of career journey led you to this position?
I trained as a mechanical engineer and worked in that for a while, then I went into strategy consulting. While there, I earmarked VC as an industry I eventually wanted to move to. So I took a position in a startup to gain some first-hand experience of growing a company, as I thought this would be valuable in the VC world. I spent two years in a London-based wellness startup in an operations and general management role.
When leaving that startup role, I was looking for positions in venture capital and this came up. It was initially advertised as a Venture Capital Associate/Portfolio Manager and it was confidential. As I was going through the process, it seemed very exciting. It is a bit of a risk as it could go a few different ways, but it’s definitely a gamble worth taking because it’s amazing to be involved early in a new type of VC fund.
PE/VC can be hard to break into without previous investment experience. Did you find this a challenge?
Yes, this was largely my experience as well. I went through the process with quite a few different VCs and the main reason I often heard for ‘no’ was that they decided to go for an investment banker instead. This is actually a bit frustrating, because I’d been led to believe that strategy consulting was also a natural stepping stone.
I got very lucky with this role. Because of the confidential job advertisement there was a lot of uncertainty about what the role was going to be – there’s a lot of uncertainty even now. My role now is not a typical VC role as I’m spending 100% of my time working for one of our portfolio companies. A typical VC role is what hopefully is going to come in the next 6-12 months, as they form a proper fund structure. And in the meantime, I can use the skills and experience I have.
Do you have any advice for others hoping to make a move to PE/VC?
In terms of a general move to VC, I’d say try to get as much investment experience as you can – or consulting projects you can sell as investment experience.
Additionally, first-hand experience working for a startup or starting your own venture is definitely valuable, but you have to be prepared for a long slog as there aren’t that many jobs out there. It’s competitive even during a competitive economy, nevermind during a pandemic-driven recession.
For a portfolio manager job, this is actually more interesting and feasible from a consulting background. Make sure you get that first-hand experience – you need both the advisor and the doer experience, so leave consulting when there’s a chance to join a young company in an operations-type role.
How was your experience of finding and applying for a job during a pandemic?
Bloody difficult. I was already in the process for 3 different roles before the pandemic; all 3 got put on hold/cancelled when COVID-19 hit. I had to get used to this: I’d spend a lot of time preparing CVs and cover letters then going through the process but then the process would go on hold or the role would disappear. So I would say try to streamline your cover letter-writing as much as possible, and have patience.
When it comes to interviewing, be really prepared – having structured answers to typical interview questions (e.g. strengths and weaknesses) has a lot of value when you are in multiple processes. You need to make sure you don’t give people ammunition to turn you down, especially in the current climate.
Has anything changed about your current role because of the pandemic?
The role is remote, and everything has been a lot more scrappy – because this is a very new company and it’s trying to change really fast, there hasn’t been a very structured onboarding process. In my first week my line manager was actually on holiday! So there’s definitely less hand-holding, but going in with the expectation of being scrappy and with being prepared to ask for help means it’s gone OK for me.
Can you talk a bit about your experience of finding the job and applying for it through Movemeon?
Movemeon became my primary source of finding new and exciting jobs. The consistent format in which jobs are presented is great for understanding what the company and the role is, so you can easily pick up whether it’s relevant for you. There’s a big range of very interesting jobs, which was great for me, it helped me explore what I wanted to do.
Where did you first see the role?
I probably saw it in all three places where I usually see your roles: the newsletter, job alerts and logging in to the platform directly.
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