INTERVIEW WITH JEFF ROSENTHAL (MBA ’88)
The Exchange sat down with Jeff Rosenthal, a San- Francisco based expert on leadership in technology companies. We asked Rosenthal to provide perspective for Anderson students pursuing opportunities in the tech sector. Rosenthal, a Senior Partner in Korn Ferry’s Leadership & Talent Consulting Business, has published extensively on leadership effectiveness and talent management. Twenty-five years ago, while an Anderson student, Rosenthal wrote for The Exchange.
The Exchange: What advice do you have for Anderson students recruiting for tech internships and full-time jobs?
Jeff Rosenthal: I would say I think there’s huge opportunity in tech but maybe for reasons that are less obvious. Of course it’s a growing industry. There are startups. There are big companies getting bigger. There’s always a need for good people.
But as far as Anderson MBAs, I think there are two places where there’s a particular need [and] where these companies are having trouble finding people from other places.
One would be having good leadership skills. We know from a lot of work we are doing there’s a real shortage of leaders who are able to do the “people stuff” well, [who] have high emotional intelligence, who know how to set direction, inspire people.
There’s a shortage of skill for that in general in tech and it’s also not something that until now has been all that rewarded. But now, I think we have enough companies in tech that are saying, “Oh, we really need this and we’re in short supply.” They are quickly realizing that these skills are key to fueling their growth. We recently wrote a white paper about this called ‘The Human Bottleneck in Tech’ – which is exactly what we’re witnessing. Related to that is what a lot of our clients are calling ‘general manager talent.’ [What] they really mean by that is people who have breadth in their abilities as opposed to depth. So the ability to learn things quickly, to have a broad grasp on many aspects of the business. For example, having enough facility in marketing, sales, engineering, human resources, strategy. There are few leaders in tech companies that have that kind of breadth…
The Exchange: To Anderson MBA’s, do you recommend working for a large company with an established vrand (i.e. Amazon, Google, etc.)or a startup in getting into the tech industry?
Jeff Rosenthal: There are huge differences between startups, mid-sized companies, and big companies. What does that really look like day to day? What do you like to do? So, to me, [it’s not a question of] “Where’s the opportunity?” but more of “What’s a fit for me?” Because opportunity is everywhere. Starting a company in your living room on a card table is a very different kind of job than working as a first time manager for Amazon.com. What I hope people would do is say, “Okay, I’ve got a lot of options, what do I really want?” I mean, “Am I attracted towards the startup mode or something in its early stage?” or “Am I attracted more towards a big company? Where do my skills match up?”
The Exchange: What do you remember of The Exchange from your time at Anderson?
Jeff Rosenthal: I wrote for it. [People] read it and really valued it. I was in a student leadership role so I feel like The Exchange was a really important vehicle to get people excited about stuff beyond just putting a flyer on the wall… I’m glad to know that it’s back.