As 23 June dawned, I woke up eager to start the San Francisco Cambridge MBA Careers Trek – despite nursing transcontinental jetlag! This was my first Cambridge MBA experience, before starting the programme in September, and the international fibre of the programme was already evident, as 13 participants of our group represented eight nationalities and cross-industry experience.
Our first stop was Yelp, a web and app service that publishes crowdsourced user reviews for local businesses and has a newly acquired reservation platform. Our alumna had meticulously arranged to bring in additional senior speakers, heading different functions like Business Operations, Product Management, Reservations and Revenue Operations. We got to understand their business model, challenges, a typical day at Yelp and got lots of career advice.
Next we visited IBM Watson, which is a new way to discover business insights, at an unprecedented scale, by merging structured and unstructured data streams. I was personally very excited, given my background in consumer insights. Our alumnus demonstrated a powerful, live use case, in which Watson trawled the CJBS tweets to identify personality traits of the CJBS brand and recommended key opinion leaders, the school could partner with to amplify its branding – all within a couple of seconds.
Next stop was 1 Hacker Way – Facebook HQ. We started with a tour of the office and its unbelievable facilities: rooftop gardens, cabanas to work from, hot dog stands, mural walls, and micro kitchens to name a few. We had an engaging session by a senior Facebooker, who heads the Growth Insights and Analytics team and took us through the journey of how the Messenger app was spun off as a separate platform.
Back in the city, we met Accenture. Our alumna offered a personal and honest view of the Accenture set up, the kind of questions each division aims to solve and how the groups work.
On Monday, we headed to Googleplex, where our alumna gave us walking tour of the incredible complex, complete with sleep pods, food trucks and a host of other amenities at every corner. After an informative Q&A, we also had a lively interaction with a member of the Partnerships team at Google.
The remainder evening saw us meeting a host of firms. We met Houlihan Lokey, a boutique investment bank and a very special organization called Code Tenderloin that provides job readiness and workforce development trainings to economically disadvantaged members living in the Tenderloin neighbourhood. They have successfully placed several graduates in leading tech firms. We closed the evening with an informative talk on Chinese investments in the US by Professor Stanley T Kwong, from San Francisco University. As day came to an end, we had fantastic Chinese dinner.
We started our final trek day by meeting the IBM S&M team and visiting the famous BlueMix Garage, where IBM leads design thinking and rapid prototyping workshops for their clients.
Next, at the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, our alumnus arranged for an informative talk by the Director of Energy Efficiency Programs on how simple behavioural interventions in consumer programs have led to high adoption rates of such solutions in San Francisco. Our last stop was Siemens, where we went through several case studies that demonstrated solutions Siemens is building through its cloud services.
As the trek came to a close, we were all sad to leave. The trek gave me a wonderful chance to explore the technology sector more closely and to make friends with some very bright people. After the trek, I am looking forward to starting the Cambridge MBA even more.