Change to a Startup only to get the experience

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Change to a Startup only to get the experience

Postby Ralf K. » Thu May 17, 2018 4:32 am

Dear forum,

I have gathered multiple years of work experience and R&D and project management, but have always been more interessted in the marketing and business side. I tried for 6 months to change internally even using a high-up senior management network that seriously tried to push my cv around. Did not work so far.

So I found a startup next to my home that does have a very interessting product. I had an interview but its really a different world: No more dinner every week payed by the company, no more business flights, no more leading a team and delegating work nor having a modern working office - it will be pure sales and at the bottom of the foodchain. However I would work exactly with what I am insterested and go to conferences I am interested and for which I have a background....
Yes I am young in my early 30s and have no financial debt and can easily handle some risks, but I would prefer to only change internally. But large companies have hundreds of CV ready with all the necessary experience and prefer to hire from the competition.

My question to the forum: Is it worth to leave a big, well paying company just to get the experience missing on my CV?

Thank you very much
Ralf K.
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:32 am

Re: Change to a Startup only to get the experience

Postby D.X. » Thu May 17, 2018 10:33 am

Hi Ralf,

From my perspective a career-mix this days involves experience in large and small companies with aready established trend for more and more folks to leave bigger companies to relatively small ones where there are more employement opportunities in terms of number of jobs in the sector. Whether its a big company or small company moving internally has its challenges just like taking extenal opportunites (as you've discovered).

It depends on your readiness for change and willingness to take the risk. The issue I've seen in many companies (and I've been in a few) is you find a camp of people who say become stagnated in career (they complain about not being able to find their next step internally despite their hard efforts) but because they have other elements of comfort, i.e. stable salary, establshed relationships, they know what to expect, they don't change and continue to 1. be fustrated. 2. carry on their current job trajectory, so no movement, and 3 and well become more and more entrenched and resistant to searching externally.

Taking the leap you mentioned has its risks ok some of those perks you talk about well how important are they to you. Is travel important to you? is leading and delegating important? etc. What trade-offs are you willing to take to get some of the experiencial gaps that you think will make you competitive?

I've traded a cush-job in the past to take a job where I had to role up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. It remains one of my best experiences i've had and I was back to team leadership in a short period of time, but in a different role, different hat. It was a smaller company and yes the perks were differentiated but sufficent to keep me happy. So it really boils down to how much do you want to get that experience and how soon, if currently you have no time-horizaon to get that.

I like the smaller companies and don't let the relatively smaller sizes fool you compensation wise - some if not most of the smaller ones compensate much better so much so for now i've careved out the consideration of big pharma's in my career and even medical devices, i'm not going to talk to companies that are well under market value when I can do the same job, probably get a better experience, which in fact is the case.

Also don't think that the small players don't get CVs! Back to my earlier point, alot of big-pharma folk are looking to get to the smaller companies, so much so i saw a recruiter in my job field put a posting out that he would only focus on the the smaller/mid-size pharma opportunites for the next 6 months as he had a few posts to fill. So there has been a shift there as well. So you still need to do your internal networking, albeit a bit easier due to less number of folks. But consdier organizational complexity say franchise wise or business unit or product develop team can be the same (just less teams vs bigger companies due to porfolio size and and nuber product offerings) but same number of folks and functions.

So hope this was helpful - and finally as you mentioned alot of companies go through phases where they hire externally. Well, that's something to capitalize on - leave, get your experience, and see if you can bring it back one day. I know many people who have done that.

Or you may find happiness in your new role and company and who knows, maybe like me, become a fan of the smaller specialty pharma's - the ones who are say playing in the areas of 2 to 3 Billion $ annual turnover with double digit annual growth with a couple market leading products by value share - are the ones that are atrracting alot of talent, are the ones where more and more folks in our area are and have been migrating and growing, as well as faving some fun.

Good luck,

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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

Re: Change to a Startup only to get the experience

Postby Dick Woodward » Sun May 20, 2018 4:30 pm


DX's advice is spot on. I have worked for big (world Fortune 500) companies and start-ups as small as a couple of people. There is an energy in a start-up that you don't find in big companies, where some people are merely counting the days until retirement.

The big issue is your level of risk tolerance, and this is something only you can decide. If you are single, you are in a somewhat better place, because if you have a significant other, it also depends on the SO's risk tolerance as well. When I left a smallish (ca. 50 people) safety testing company to start my consulting business, I had two small children and a spouse that did not work outside the home, as they put it. Quite frankly, I was probably out of my mind. But I had three things going for me - 1) my wife believed that if things crashed and burned, I would figure a way out (high risk tolerance); 2) I had the belief that if crashing and burning occurred, I could always go back and sell something (high risk tolerance) and 3) a network of colleagues that knew what I could do. Within a month or so of being out there, one of these colleagues asked me to help him with his start-up, and I didn't stop until 2 of my clients asked me to join them in another start-up.

So - some serious introspection is due, but I would like to leave you with a thought. In a big company, you are a very small part of a very big machine; in a small company, everybody is a big part in a small machine. It is way easier to be important to a small company than a big one.

Best of luck with whatever choice you make.

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Dick Woodward
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