The work environment in startups is often glorified in comparison with working for corporations, which is deemed boring or unfulfilling. In this guest article, seasoned tech executive Irina Scarlat argues that this is a misleading dichotomy because choosing a career path is a deeply personal decision that should reflect the skill set and values of the individual.
She also gives practical insights on how the working environment in tech companies changes, depending on their size and stage of development, and how the tech talent they need changes accordingly.
Irina Scarlat is the Chief Growth Officer at the investment platform Bitpanda, Austria’s first unicorn, where she’s leading the global marketing, growth & international expansion teams.
Her experience combines entrepreneurship, product marketing, and people & project management. Previously, she was the Global Head of Growth at Revolut, and the Marketing Lead for Romania at Uber.
The Recursive publishes an excerpt from her article on how to find the right company for you if you are interested in a career in tech:
“Abandon hope all ye who enter here” should be written at the entrance of established companies. And then it’s what I call the tech mirage. In popular belief, tech companies are on the opposite side of the spectrum. They’re the land of promise and opportunity, where fun, glory & money await. And not only is this dichotomy wrong, but it’s also dangerous since it can potentially encourage people to choose a career that’s not fit for them.
One other bothering thing with the tech mirage is that all tech companies are blended together. More often than not, they’re incorrectly labeled as startups, irrespective of their current size and scale. Uber is no longer a startup. Neither is Google, Apple, or Facebook. The problem with the incorrect labeling is that the work environment in a company such as the latter is so much different than the work environment in a 5-person company.
Tech Companies by Size
I love how Reid Hoffman classifies tech companies and people working in them in his “Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies”. (If you’re working in tech, this book is a masterpiece and you just have to read it). Based on their size, he divides companies into five categories:
- The Family: 1 – 9 employees;
- The Tribe: 10 – 99 employees;
- The Village: 100 – 999 employees;
- The City: 1000 – 9999 employees;
- The Nation: 10000+ employees.
Tech employees by company stage
He also underlines that different types of people fit in different stages of a company’s development. I loved his analogy to the pirates, the navy, and the police patrol.
- The pirates are the ones that hack the sea (and sometimes break the rules) to discover new land. They are a fit in the very early and early stages of a company;
- The navy admirals come in after the pirates discover the land. They build the city, bring in the people and create the rules. They are the best fit as the company moves away from its early stages into (hyper)growth;
- The police officers come in once the city is set up. They patrol the streets and make sure law & order is maintained.
There’s nothing bad about being a pirate, a navy admiral, or a police officer. But it’s really, really bad if you end up in a company that needs someone you’re not. For both yourself and the company.
>>> If you want to deep dive into how the work environment actually looks like in different companies, depending on their size and growth stage, read the full article here. <<<