What to expect when joining a startup from the corporate world / Big 4 consulting life?
Katherine Roach, Head of Client Engagement at Hyper Anna and former EY consultant, reflects on her expectations versus the reality of leaving Big 4 consulting for startup life.
1. I thought I’d be working 90 hours a week with zero life.
When I left consulting, I was preparing myself for the sleepless nights of startup life working all night long and sleeping at the office. I was pleasantly surprised, however, that this was not the case (phew!). On a typical week, I work approximately 50 hour week; some weeks it will be a little more, some weeks a little less.
Sure, it’s certainly not a predictable 38 hours per week, but that works super well for me as I’m constantly learning and solving problems that I would have never had been exposed to in a larger firm. Hyper Anna promotes a healthy work-life balance, so my personal challenge is making sure that I have time for what is important like staying healthy, going to the gym and being home for dinner each night.
2. If you’re not working in a garage, is it really a startup?
When I first joined Hyper Anna I was surprised about how it didn’t feel like a startup I saw on TV. In my mind a startup was sitting in a garage working with no more than 10 people, frantically running around trying to put out a million fires with limited direction and any so-called success was probably due to luck.
However, the reality couldn’t be more different. We have a funky office, big corporations as clients, a product that is disrupting the industry and a team of 40+ people, all who like me, left amazing jobs to build a product that we all believe will change the Business Intelligence (BI) industry for the better. There isn’t a sense of fear that it will all come crashing down tomorrow.
Instead, I feel the stability of a big organisation, but with the passion and hunger to make stuff happen!
3. You do the job you were hired for, and only that.
When I joined Hyper Anna I was hired as a Client Engagement Manager, my role was to successfully deliver Proof of Concepts (POCs) for new customers, showing them how the product works and adds value to their organisation.
Within two months of joining, the team launched a new Anna and I’m not talking about bug fixes. I’m talking about a major innovation, which for me meant defining a new way of working with clients.
This meant forging a new path to success, one that we had never seen before.
Was this in my job description? No. Was this expected? No. Was it what I signed up for? Yes! I loved the challenge of the pace, the innovation, the chance to own and create something, and see results in real time. Fast forward a few months, I got the opportunity to lead this new function, an opportunity I would have never got anywhere else. At a startup like Hyper Anna, you have all the power to shape the direction of your career. You will be given autonomy to solve problems no matter how big or small that are all critical to company success.
4. It’s all about ping-pong tables, beer on tap and free food.
Well this is actually kind of true. There is a ping-pong table, there is free beer on tap and we do get breakfast and lunch, along with unlimited snacks. For me, this is great, but what I truly think is special about working at a startup is the intimate environment where you get to learn from your incredibly smart and humble peers.
Everyday I get the opportunity to be coached by senior leaders of the company and build my skills exponentially. I love coming into work everyday, working with an amazingly talented team, solving challenging problems and knowing that my contributions make a difference for our customers. And that it has nothing to do with working in a garage!