It is rare to find a black woman who holds a C-suite position in Silicon Valley. Stacy Brown Philpot is one such rarity.
The Detroit-born dynamo is a master at building and scaling global juggernaut companies. She spent nine years working in different director-level positions at Google, and since landing the role of COO at TaskRabbit, the company has expanded internationally—now operating in 20 cities across the U.S. and Europe with some 30,000 taskers. It also launched a marquee partnership with Amazon, which lets taskers deliver home services to Amazon customers.
In advance of Black Enterprise’s TechConneXt Summit, we spoke with Philpot about her transition from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, and what it means to be a non-technical professional in the new digital economy.
BlackEnterprise.com: What inspired you to switch lanes from companies like Goldman Sachs and PriceWaterhouseCoopers to high growth tech companies like Google and TaskRabbit?
Philpot: My experience in accounting and finance taught me how to evaluate good businesses. During my time at Goldman Sachs, I saw many companies in the tech industry creating value and entrepreneurs driving innovation in a way that was unlike any other industry. I was fascinated and wanted to learn more. This drove me to attend business school at Stanford in the heart of Silicon Valley. The pace of growth and opportunity for creativity and innovation is infectious, and I wanted to be a part of it.
What was that transition like for you?
The most challenging part of the transition was going from professional services to working at a single company, but it was also the most fun. At Google, I was able to experience firsthand the process of building and scaling a successful business.
How is working at a digital company like TaskRabbit different from working on Wall Street?
At TaskRabbit, we are pioneering a new industry and defining the rules while experiencing rapid growth. This means that there is a lot of opportunity and the challenge is to stay focused on our vision and our purpose, even as market dynamics change. When I was in mergers & acquisitions on Wall Street, our entire job was to understand market dynamics and leverage them into opportunities for companies to create value. Creating market change has been more rewarding than evaluating it for profits.
Were there any sacrifices, professional or otherwise, that you had to make in order to transition to Silicon Valley?
We don’t have family here in the Bay Area and we miss having them around. However, I have developed friends over time from business school and work that are like family.
What are some of the most in-demand non-technical jobs in Silicon Valley?
At TaskRabbit, people are our greatest competitive advantage. Engineering remains a priority, but we also have a particular interest in designers, marketers, and operations leaders.
What advice can you provide about How NOT to transition into Silicon Valley?
It’s easy to assume all tech companies are looking for the same type of candidates, yet that’s not the case. Relationships matter, especially when making a career transition. I would highly recommend leveraging relationships as much as possible to learn about companies you are interested in, their culture, and how your skills match current business needs.
Attend the Black Enterprise TechConneXt Summit at the Santa Clara, California, Hyatt Regency from Oct. 12–13. It will present a unique, unparalleled opportunity to make connections among the best and brightest of the African American tech community—from Silicon Valley and beyond. At TechConneXt you will learn the secrets to Navigating Silicon Valley Community, Discover Opportunities with Tech Companies, Find Funding Sources for your business and Connect with established tech leaders. If you are apart of the tech community, or one of its many stakeholders, you simply cannot miss it! Register today at www.blackenterprise.com/techconnext.