Scott is in Strategic Partnership Development at GrouponLive and worked as a Market Research Manager & Case Team Leader at Smart Think. He also graduated from Harvard Business School. Check out his LinkedIn profile and follow him on Twitter.
Nicolas: Thanks a lot for doing this interview Scott. You have a very interesting background so I have tons of questions for you. Let’s start with your current job at Groupon in Business Development. What strategies did you use to land it?
Scott: Actually they created the job for me.
Nicolas: You mean that wasn’t an official MBA internship? They created it especially for you?
Scott: Pretty much yes. I knew someone in the Business Development team and I reached out to him to see what he was up to and how the company was doing. My contact told me about the very ambitious targets set by the CEO and we started to chat about how to reach the targets. One thing led to another and I suggested some ideas, which they thought were good so I got the job!
Nicolas: Did you even interview for the job?
Scott: I did interview sure. What was great is that instead of fighting for one of the open formal spots, I was interviewing for a job opening I created with them. So we didn’t focus that much on my background but instead on my ideas and my action plan for growth. It was like a case study in consulting except it was a case happening “in the future ” rather than in the past.
Nicolas: It’s a pretty new concept for me and I really like it. Do you think it’s applicable in more traditional companies?
Scott: I never tried this technique at an established, formal company. And it’s definitely something easier to do with start-ups. The real requirement is some level of personal connection with people already working at the firm, someone who can vouch for you and support you when you are trying to create the job.
Also one of the great advantages of creating your own job is that you’re not taking over from anyone. That means you don’t end up with 20 routine tasks to perform each week. You start fresh and are only focused on getting the results and the growth rather than maintaining the status quo!
Nicolas: I love it. Something that you can try is to get a traditional job at a big company and then two years later create your own job in the business development department or the finance department once you are very familiar with the challenges of the company. Any advice on the process readers could use to create their own job?
Scott: Look for people you’d be excited to work with, people working at growing companies. Talk to them about their challenges and suggest ideas on how you could help. If the fit is good then you can suggest that they create a position for you. If it doesn’t lead anywhere then it’s still a great way to network and to give value to your contacts before you ask for a referral or something else.
Nicolas: Ok so before doing your MBA you were a Strategy Planning Manager at Kraft, what was your strategy to land this job?
Scott: One of the engagement managers at McKinsey left for Kraft, she was in the strategy business unit and she was recruiting people. She contacted me because we worked together at McKinsey and I interviewed with the head of strategy, her boss. We hit it off pretty well and I ended up working directly for the head of strategy rather than in the team of my contact from McKinsey.
Nicolas: You are not a very conventional candidate I must say! Tell me about the interview, what kind of topics did you discuss?
Scott: It was quite different from the interview with Groupon I told you about. Instead of talking about the future and what I would do at Kraft, we talked about my past projects and my background. What was my impact, what were the key issues etc. The guy also presented me with what was going on at Kraft but we stayed pretty high level on this.
Nicolas: Ok so pretty conventional for a job at this level. What is your strategy to prepare for those kinds of interviews?
Scott: The thing that I do that most candidates don’t do enough is to prepare what you would do during the first 90 days in the job. In most interviews you don’t get to discuss your plan in great detail but it’s the perfect way to ask questions to the interviewer. Because if you prepare a plan then you know about the company and its challenges and you can ask smart questions instead of the usual boring ones.
Nicolas: Sounds cool, but tell me more about the process you used to prepare what you would do on Day 1.
Scott: It’s pretty much like a case study on the business. You need to find out what are the key issues for the company by using the reports from analyst covering the stock. You can also listen to earnings calls and see what kind of questions the analysts are asking. Then you prepare the 2 or 3 areas you would focus on, what kind of assumptions you would test, what kind of metrics you would track etc.
Born in China, Flore holds a MSc from…
After six years with Credit Suisse as an Investment…
After completing his MBA at Harvard Business School…
June 18, 2015