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Management role at small company vs IC at brand-name company

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Intern
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Joined: 06 Jan 2018
Posts: 15
Schools: INSEAD Jan '19
GMAT 1: 790 Q50 V51
Management role at small company vs IC at brand-name company [#permalink]

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New post 23 Jan 2018, 16:16
Hello,

I'm on the east coast and considering applying to a European MBA program at some point in the next few years (start applying somewhere between 2019 and 2021, depending on advice I receive on best timing). I don't intend to work in the US after graduation, and I'd prefer to have older/more experienced classmates. INSEAD is my ideal school, also looking at Judge/Said/LBS.

I have about 3.5 years' experience (class of 2014): 3 as a software engineer (1.5 at current company) and 0.5 in a management role at my current company leading a team of 4 (likely to expand this year), reporting to the CTO. The company is private and has about 200 employees. My current company is reasonably well-known and respected regionally but certainly nothing I would call a name-brand company for the purposes of MBA admissions. I really like this job and they are very supportive of my career, providing a lot of training and mentoring for me in my first management role. The company is in expansion phase which is also a great environment to work in.

My question is: should I stay in this role for another year or two and apply in 2019, or look for a job with a name-brand company and possibly delay MBA applications?

For personal reasons I have to stay in my current city until next year, but there are a few large companies I could potentially seek out (e.g. a couple of the companies on the Aringo "clientinfobrandnames-for-ci" list including one of the "4s" - sorry, can't post URLs yet). However, the roles I could likely get there would not be management roles - would be things like technical presales or consulting. If I weren't applying for an MBA, I would stay at my current company for another year or two as there is still a lot to learn, although obviously I don't want to stay there too long and stagnate. Unless I stuff it up drastically, I expect to get great recommendations from my current company - obviously leaving 6mo into a new role after they put a lot of effort into creating the role for me is a pretty bad look though.

Does anyone have any advice?
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Status: MBA Admissions Consultant
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Farrell D Hehn: MBA
Re: Management role at small company vs IC at brand-name company [#permalink]

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New post 23 Jan 2018, 22:27
I actually think I would recommend that you stay in this company because you seem to like it and you seem to be growing there and everything just seems to be pointing in that direction for you. If you were applying to HBS I might have a different answer for you but given that you're going for European schools I honestly think that you will be okay without this. What I do encourage you to articulate is the opportunities you have from being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. There's always a kind of trade-off between the size of the company and the quality of your work experience. You can be the Excel analyst number #3 at a huge company or you can basically like run a couple of departments in a smaller company. So just take advantage of the fact that you can wear many hats work cross-functionally and gain leadership experience. just leverage the crap out of that. And of course secure those recommendations and get everything locked and loaded for applications. I also recommend you work with a consultant who will help articulate the value of what you have done because it won't be glaringly present from the company name itself. INSEAD is trying to be more and more entrepreneurial minded which means that they will need to accept more people that are from startups and that also means smaller companies. If you are headed down the consulting or Finance track I'm not sure I would say the same though. I'd like for you to get more than just my opinion on this. It's a big decision.

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Joined: 06 Jan 2018
Posts: 15
Schools: INSEAD Jan '19
GMAT 1: 790 Q50 V51
Re: Management role at small company vs IC at brand-name company [#permalink]

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New post 23 Jan 2018, 23:29
Thanks MBAPrepCoach!

My career goal is general management and ideally entrepreneurship (obviously recognising that a certain amount of luck/timing goes into this, but putting myself in a position to find potential business partners and networking is a big part of my motivation to do an MBA). I'm not interested in finance and I think I'd find consulting a little frustrating - I work really hard on projects that I have ownership over and where I care a lot about the long-term future, not just a client project for someone else's work.

I also get a lot out of the people management component of my current job, getting to mentor and guide my direct reports and clear a path for them. Again it seems that being even a highly-paid senior consultant wouldn't provide this, although I would appreciate hearing from anyone who disagrees with that as it's not an industry I have any experience with!

I'm currently involved in two small side projects which have the potential to become "startups". I guess another question is how much to focus on this versus growing in my paid role, but for the moment I'm still learning a lot at this scale so I'm happy with the current balance. Both projects plus my current job have some element of data analytics/big data which is a big interest of mine.
Re: Management role at small company vs IC at brand-name company   [#permalink] 23 Jan 2018, 23:29
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