From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, TaskRabbit COO Explains the Key to Transitioning Successfully
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

TaskRabbit.com COO Stacy Brown-Philpot

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.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.


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