At the end of last year, the Ivey Tech club organized our annual tech trek to Silicon Valley in San Francisco Bay area. We had the opportunity to visit large companies such as Google, Facebook, Yelp and eBay. It’s quite impressive that despite being some of the biggest tech companies in the world, they are still expanding at a rapid pace. This was particularly evident at Facebook when Kevin Ma, an Ivey grad and Growth Marketing Manager, gave us a tour where we saw the construction of new buildings on the Facebook campus to accommodate Instagram’s growth. Facebook’s campus was quiet fascinating where employees have various perks on the campus such as meals, gaming room, restaurants to promote collaboration across the entire company not just within one department. We took a picture in front of the Facebook logo at the entrance of the campus. We couldn’t help but notice the board says Facebook to the outside world but Sun Microsystems on the other side which is visible to the people inside the campus. Kevin told us that Mark Zuckerberg left it as reminder to his employees about what happened to Sun Microsystems due to lack of constant innovation and Facebook should learn from it.
The visit to Google campus was quite valuable as well since Google was the first company to bring dynamic and fun work environment to Silicon Valley and had a similar environment to Facebook as we rode the signature Google bikes across campus including the Android garden. One thing that stood out at Google campus was the 80-20 concept where employees can work on their own projects 20% of their time and present it to the company.
At eBay, we met Rakan Khalid who is an Ivey alumni and a Lead Product Manager. I was really looking forward to this meeting since Rakan also comes from software development background like me. He successfully transitioned to Product Management after the MBA and I hope to follow this path after my MBA. He gave us a tour of the company and talked about his experience from Ivey to eBay. He also talked about the types of Product Management and gave us advice on how which industry segment we need to focus and tailor our application process accordingly.
Next, we visited Yelp to meet Ryan Freeman who followed a different path to the tech industry. He worked as Consultant in Toronto before joining his friend to start a company called Turnstyle to enhance customer experience at different events. Yelp acquired Turnstyle, rebranded Yelp WiFi, and he moved to San Francisco. He talked to us about the transition and his experience of working for Yelp which is used by millions of users and how he much enjoys life in the tech and Silicon Valley in general.
We also had the pleasure of breaking bread with alumni from Figma who talked about his journey in the tech industry and the opportunities tech industry has in terms of finance, marketing, product management, strategy and not just technical roles.
Along with visiting the tech giants, we were quite excited to visit Asana, which is rated as the best medium sized companies to work for and rightfully so. We got insights into the product focus of Asana and the culture of empathy they have built throughout the company, for example they have encouraged the sales employees to gain programming skills to develop empathy for their colleagues in product development. As a follower of Jackie Bavaro’s blog about product management and leadership, I personally found it exciting to see the concepts in action and how committed the employees were to the company’s mission.
One of the most underrated visits was IDEO, creative design company, which redesigned the shopping cart. We talked about IDEO and their design thinking in school but it was great to see the workspace with Kanban boards, design concepts.
We visited Semantics, a graduate of Y Combinator and provides analytics services to retail businesses so that they could compete with Amazon and Walmart. The CEO talked about his journey in terms of ideation and creation of the company. This was a great learning opportunity where we found out what it takes to be an entrepreneur and pursue our ideas.
Ivey’s alumni network has always been rated as one of the best in the world, but we witnessed it firsthand at the SF Bay Area chapter reunion at Coin Room. We met multiple alumni who were very welcoming and spoke to us about their post Ivey experience. Even though we were far away from Toronto, we could connect with the Ivey community in San Francisco and would make an ideal place for Ivey grads looking to pursue a career in technology.
Over the course of the networking trip, we gained valuable insights about the trends in tech and the various opportunities. We hope to continue the trend of pursuing a career in technology and help expand the Ivey family.