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Beyond the Uniform

Beyond the Uniform is a show to help military veterans navigate their civilian career. Each week, I meet with different veterans to learn more about their civilian career, how they got there, and what advice they'd give to other military personnel.
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Dec 21, 2016

“When you go into a project, everyone has the understanding that they probably don't know what the right answer is. At Slack we're very successful and we've done a lot of right movement: when there was a decision to go left, we went left; when there was a decision to pick door #3, we happened to pick door #3. A lot of it is by chance and luck and at the same time when we attempt a project, I don't think anyone assumes that they know what the right answer is. Because of that there is a lot of open mindedness of being ok if this doesn't work out. A lot of the time we do things here to try it out and if it doesn't work it doesn't work."
 – Tom Pae

Tom Pae is a Sales Enablement Manager at Slack - one of the fastest growing startups in San Francisco, who has raised $540M in funding. He started out at West Point, and served in the Army for over seven years as an Armor & Military Intelligence Officer. When he left the Army he went to Columbia Business School. After that, he joined LinkedIn - first as a Sales Operations Manager and then as a Senior Learning Technology Strategist. He is married to fellow Army veteran, RaeAnne Pae, who I interviewed in Episode 26.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • An overview of the role of Account Operations Management
  • The lifestyle component of working in a high-growth startup
  • How life at Slack (and a high growth startup) compares to life at LinkedIn (an established company)
  • How Tom used nights and weekends to prepare for his transition to tech
  • And much, much more…

Selected Links

  • My interview with Tom's wife, RaeAnne - http://beyondtheuniform.io/btu-26-raeanne-pae-army-to-facebook-and-business-development/
  • Slack's incredible commercial about their vision for the workplace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6sSa5NpqUI
  • Articles mentioned about tech
    • Recode - http://www.recode.net/
    • Venture beat - http://venturebeat.com/
    • Tech crunch - https://techcrunch.com/
    • Wall Street Journal Tech & Marketing section - http://www.wsj.com/news/technology
  • General Assembly - short form content on different topics at night. Helped Tom figure out what he wanted to do

Show Notes

  • 2:37 - Tom's background
  • 3:18 - An overview of Slack
  • 5:50 - An overview of the role of Account Operations Management
  • 7:42 - The day-to-day life of an Account Operations Manager
  • 9:18 - The lifestyle component of working in a high-growth startup
  • 11:20 - Career progressions for an Account Operations Manager
  • 13:20 - Indications that you may be well suited for a role in Account Operations, and indications that you may not enjoy it
  • 16:47 - How life at Slack (and a high growth startup) compares to life at LinkedIn (an established company)
  • 21:28 - How Tom approached the decision to leave the Army
  • 23:28 - The most surprising aspect of Tom's transition to civilian life
  • 26:26 - Advice on whether or not to pursue an MBA after the military
  • 30:10 - How Tom found his way from business school to LinkedIn
  • 37:50 - How Tom pursued Operations as a starting point for his career
  • 41:04 - How Tom decided to move on from LinkedIn
  • 44:00 - Final words of wisdom
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