Deep tech startups offer some of the best job opportunities out there, no matter where you are in your career journey. Giving Google, Intel, Nvidia and Microsoft as some heavyweight examples, Cecilia Harvey explains the excitement and potential in being involved in a deep tech startup from the beginning: ‘It’s disruptive technology that cuts across so many different industries, but it’s also technology that, although very niche, is applicable across the masses.’
1. Be a chameleon
Usually in the deep tech space, you’re going from the lab to the market: from a research to a commercial environment and really thinking about technology as a business. So, to be successful in careers such as this relies on closing that gap between academia and industry in many ways.
Often, you’ll have highly technical teams that may lack some of the business front for sales, marketing, management, finance. Many technologists can fall into the trap of striving for perfection and really what it’s about in this space in terms of commercial dynamics is considering what’s going to be acceptable to the client as good enough.
Really, it’s learning how to function in both a commercial setting and an academic environment; going on that journey of becoming familiar with deadlines, budgeting and stakeholder or client management.
2. Work in the real world
Advice for those beginning their career journey: get real world business experience, because learning the business side of technology will set you apart from other people. Learning from non-technical people, the finance directors, the sales and marketing people within an organisation will benefit your career.
The technologist that understands how to communicate the benefits of their technology to various audiences and can help them to understand what the value of the technology is, is an invaluable skillset.
3. Build your online presence
Build your public profile in a substantive way. You’d be amazed when you look at people’s LinkedIn profiles: make sure that your profile is not only updated but that it has a bio that outlines the specific skillset that you’re interested in and have experience of.
Be active with your profile. Even starting small by liking and sharing relevant content is good and it starts to put you out there. It’s important to use social media in a positive way so people understand what your interests are, what you value and ultimately where you want to go with your career.
Be inspired by other people’s profiles that are eye catching and align to areas you want to pursue within your career.
No matter where you are in your career, your online profile is the new cv, so it should not only be updated but it should be dynamically used to engage with audiences so people are able to come and find you for various opportunities.
4. Stay relevant
At any stage within your career, it’s always important to remain relevant and that’s especially true within deep tech. Whether you are highly technical or not, many people want to get into these areas because who wouldn’t want to be involved with an organisation that has the potential that a Google or Microsoft has? That’s where you really want to be. A lot of people can be intimidated because they think ‘I don’t have a PHD in this area,’ or ‘I haven’t had enough experience in this space,’ and it’s something Harvey assures should never be a concern.
Where should I begin?
No matter your level of experience, there is a way in to a career in deep tech:
- Advice for students and graduates
Get actual work experience at startups or scaleups. These types of companies are always looking to offer work experience and for people to come in and learn what they do. These can often lead to a career opportunity after you graduate if there is a good match.
- Advice for those with a few years’ experience
Start from the basics - use LinkedIn. Follow the pages of companies you would be interested in becoming a part of. They will be putting out content that will help you discover more about them, as well as virtual events and webinars that will help you to learn more about that product, that team, that company, that industry and will help you make connections.
- Advice for more experienced professionals
You may already be happy in a job but you want to get involved in this space. You probably already have a lot of relevant experience - perhaps more commercial and more non-technical that can be of benefit to companies in the deep tech space. Make sure that you are reaching out to those companies: you may be able to leverage your services as an advisor - you could join an advisory board as a non-executive advisor. Down the line, that could lead to a career restart. You could go into that organisation in sales, you could go in to lead their delivery arm for delivery to client and add a different dimension to your career.
Watch the full webinar
Cecilia’s talk begins at 00:30:30.
About the author
Cecilia Harvey is the Chief Executive Officer of Hyve Dynamics. With over 20 years’ experience in finance and technology, Cecilia is an advocate for responsible technology leadership that seeks to inspire, elevate and disrupt global businesses and communities.
Hear more from Cecilia
Listen to Cecilia in conversation on this episode of the Gem of All Mechanisms podcast.