Ryan '14

View Ryan's SagePost47 profile: (link).

What are you doing now?

  • Today, I’m a Principal at Malk Partners (where I’ve been since 2014). Malk Partners is a small management consulting firm based out of San Diego. Our clients are investors who buy and sell regular companies (healthcare, software, industrial, consumer, etc.); we advise them on potential risks their companies may face. These tend to fall into the broad issue areas of health and safety, environmental impact, diversity, discrimination/harassment, labor conditions, supply chain compliance, ethics, data privacy, and anti-bribery. Together, these issues are bucketed as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). Having a defined ESG management program is key to our clients’ ability to raise funds from their investors (pension plans, endowments, foundations, wealthy individuals).
  • In my role, I oversee the “delivery” side of our organization, meaning that all projects we complete for our clients come across my desk in one way or another. I’m responsible for a team of 12, managing the quality of our reports and how we communicate with our clients. Just as importantly, as a part of a small business, I help out with business development, recruiting, IT, and strategy.
  • My favorite projects tend to be the messy ones, whether that means reviewing a government contractor that has toed the line on political contributions, a software company that collects and sells consumer data, or a manufacturing business that has overseas factories with little oversight. Our team has the responsibility of looking at these companies, assessing whether our clients can continue with their investment and how they can manage ESG risks better on an ongoing basis. We don’t get to change the way businesses operate every day, but we do some days – in that we believe we’re leaving the world better than we found it.


How did you decide to study Environmental Analysis, and what made you choose to work at the intersection of business and ESG issues at Malk Partners?

  • When I first came to Pomona I was dead set on studying international politics and working in diplomacy or defense. It turns out the school knew me better than I knew myself and paired me with my advisor, EA and Econ professor Bo Cutter. I took Intro to Macroeconomics with Professor Kuhlwein and EA 10 with Professor Cutter. From that semester, I was convinced that pursuing an environmental analysis major would allow me to follow what was becoming a passion: my belief that if the world was going to become more sustainable, business had to be a part of the solution. I followed that idea all the way to my undergraduate thesis (the business case for installing green roofs on movie theaters). Through a lucky introduction, I met the team at Malk Partners and begin interviewing.


What do you enjoy most about your job?

  • I was drawn to the business when I saw the ability to work on interesting issues and make an immediate impact in a small company. It’s those same components that keep me happy day in and day out! Outside of that, I love learning about new companies. Every day we have a new challenge, a new company to dive into, a new business model to understand.


You've risen through the ranks quickly at Malk Partners, from starting as an Associate 10 days after graduating from Pomona to your current role of Principal. To what do you credit this quick career progression, and what advice do you have for students as they strive to be similarly successful?

  • Most importantly, I was able to jump into an organization on the ground floor. There’s no quicker path to leadership than starting off in a small business and finding success. I’m a big believer in starting a career at a small company to go big later in a career. I think a lot of students feel the pressure to start at a name brand company (probably like they felt pressure to go to a name brand college!). For me, going to Pomona was about finding the right opportunity where I could grow and find a cultural fit, not about adding the biggest name to my resume. I believe that same logic should hold true for your first career stop as well. The skills and experiences you’ll gain at a small business will prepare you for an amazing set of opportunities going forward.


Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • I honestly can’t imagine a better long term fit for me than Malk Partners. There are a number of things I want to accomplish in my career from corporate strategy to investing, but for now I’m developing a toolbox that I can take into the future. In 2019, we’re opening a New York City office. I’ll be heading East to lead up that effort, so for at least the foreseeable future, you can catch me in Manhattan!


What advice do you have for current Environmental Analysis majors?

  • It’s an exciting time to be in this field! Every day we face a new challenge related to the environmental impact we all leave and luckily for you, that is yielding amazing opportunities for bright young professionals to change the world. Look far and wide for job opportunities and don’t narrow yourself to one field. Develop skills outside your major; anything from graphic design, to persuasive writing, to data analysis, to presentation could open up positions and responsibilities otherwise closed off (this bit could be targeted at all students). If you’ve loved learning about my path and what we do at Malk Partners, let me know! We’re always looking for new team members (careers@malk.com).

Emily '12

1. Is where you are currently where you thought you would end up?

In some ways, yes — and in others, no! I have wanted to work in education since I started going to school (and fell in love with it — nerd), but I didn't anticipate ending up in the independent school community. I also didn't ever really think about holding leadership positions in a school; I was always focused on my own classroom.

2. How did you land you are your current role?

I landed at Windward School when I moved back to L.A. after several years teaching in Phoenix. Partway into my second year teaching here, my department chair moved into an associate director's role, leaving the position of chair open. I had served as chair in Phoenix in a much smaller and younger department, so this was an exciting new challenge for me.

3. What is the most important leadership lesson you've learned and how is it valuable?

I've learned the importance of emotional intelligence. When I first started leading, I didn't realize the value of some of my strengths (introspection, active listening, empathy, etc.) and thought I had to fit into some stereotypical all-business mold instead. I eventually started to realize that I could be a strong leader because of these qualities, not in spite of them. They've helped me to build stronger teams, address conflict, and support my department members.

4. What advice can you offer on how to progress in your chosen field/career?

Be ready and excited to continue learning. Education is a lot different now than it was when I was in high school, and will continue to evolve in the years to come. The most respected teachers I know are always learning from others, making new connections, and innovating in their own classrooms. It's intrinsically rewarding and a great way to find new opportunities.

5. How would you describe your personal style? (in work/work-life balance)

I am pretty driven: I love setting goals for myself and working hard to meet them (to-do lists are one of my favorite things). I used to feel guilty that I wasn't more proactive about creating that elusive "work-life balance" until a mentor scoffed at the idea. Her theory was that we just tilt to one thing or the other, depending on what we are currently passionate about and what we need. So I've leaned into that, and I'll have intense work periods followed by a day where I have a date with my couch and a stack of novels.

6. What do you wish you knew when you were a student at Pomona that you know now?

Pomona is a rare gift. Intellectually, I knew this — kind of — but I don't think I fully appreciated it until I left. Living in a community of passionate, curious people, surrounded by resources and opportunities, tasked with learning as much as you can... it's not common once you leave! I wish I had realized just how much was available to me and reveled in it on a daily basis.

7. What Motivates You?

The students, always. I remember the impact some of my most influential teachers had on me, and I remind myself that we're striving to do the same thing for our students. High school is such a formative time, and I really feel the weight of that responsibility: everything that we do is in service of creating a great learning experience for them, and it helps when I'm in the middle of a very long, busy, or challenging week.

8. What does a day in your life look like?

I'm always at school early (by 7:00 a.m.) so I can get some quiet time to myself before campus is buzzing with students. I do my best thinking first thing in the morning, so if I'm lucky the first few hours of the day are for things like designing curriculum. I typically teach my own classes four hours a day, and the rest of the time is filled with meetings with students, administrators, and my department. Every day is a little different: I might be observing teachers, aligning curriculum, discussing ways to support struggling students, etc. I love being challenged by a wide variety of tasks and puzzles.

9. What are some lessons you've learned the hard way?

You have to take care of yourself! When I first began teaching, and then chairing, I ran myself into the ground. There is literally no end to the work you can do; I'm a fairly self-critical person, so I was constantly aware of how much more/better I could be doing. If you neglect yourself, though, there will come a point when you are no good to anyone else.

10. How did you go about organizing your time while at Pomona? Did you plan everything or go with the flow?

I was always a planner. (I bullet journaled before bullet journaling was a thing...) There was always so much I wanted to do, so I worked hard to organize my time to squeeze in as much as I could. That said, some of my best memories were the spontaneous ones when I put the plan to the side.

 

 

Annie '07

1. Is where you are currently where you thought you would end up?

Nope! My original plan was to go to dental school, but around my junior year I decided that path wasn’t for me. After Pomona (and a year spent soul-searching), I ended up getting a master’s degree in Higher Education and then spent 9 years working in student activities, alumni relations, and career education at various colleges and universities. Last year I made a career pivot and became a project manager at a financial tech startup called Guideline, which does 401(k) management for small businesses. I never would have guessed I would be working in tech or in finance, let alone both!

2. How did you land you are your current role?

When I decided I wanted to find a new job, I started talking to my friends about their jobs and what they do. I told them about my strengths and what I was interested in, and they were able to connect me with other people so I could do some informational interviews. These conversations helped me learn about different roles in multiple industries. Then, I truly got lucky. I started marketing myself as a project manager on job search sites like LinkedIn and AngelList, and I was contacted by my now-boss about the position I have today. I had never heard of the company, but I decided to take the call with him, and it turned out to be a great move!

3. What is the most important leadership lesson you've learned and how is it valuable?

One thing I’ve learned along the way is to not lose sight of the long-game. It’s easy to get bogged down in day-to-day stuff at work, but to be a leader you also have to be strategic and think big-picture. You have to figure out how your actions today might impact you and the people around you down the road. Someone once told me to schedule ‘think-time’ into my week where I set aside email and all the other daily stuff to do my big thinking, and it’s a practice I’m trying to adopt.

4. What advice can you offer on how to progress in your chosen field/career?

Never stop learning. Find mentors, whether it is someone within your workplace, a friend, or a family member who can give you advice and challenge you to succeed. Join interest groups, attend events, or talk to others who do what you do (or want to do) so you can learn from them as well as share what you’ve learned. There are also lots of online courses and certificates that are free or cheap and can teach you a lot about how to improve, the latest trends in your field, leadership skills, job-specific skills, and more.

5. How would you describe your personal style? (in work/work-life balance)

I cultivate a style of approachability and willingness to work hard as part of a team. I believe that acting professional at all times is important, especially when I am not the most senior person and have a goal to advance my position at the company. I strive for constant improvement and I can be a bit of a perfectionist – this comes in handy at some times, and proves challenging at other times! My life outside of work is very important to me so I try to leave lots of room for that and always take vacation when I can. I believe that the amount of time a person puts in shouldn’t matter as long as quality work is getting done and they are dedicated to their job.

6. What do you wish you knew when you were a student at Pomona that you know now?

I wish I understood all the opportunities I had while at Pomona, whether it was getting involved with a club, going on an OTL trip, finding an internship, applying for a grant, attending lectures, etc. I wish I knew that I should treat my jobs and internships as a way to experience something that could actually become a career, rather than just a way to earn money.

7. What Motivates You?

The opportunity to learn new things motivates me (which may be why I have switched jobs every two to three years!). It’s challenging to not know how to do a job and to have to figure it out along the way, but if I always knew what to do it would be boring! I find it motivating to work as part of a team a make my contribution to a part of something bigger. Finally, I am motivated to know that I am helping others, whether that was by building community in my last role at Stanford, or by providing affordable retirement savings options for employees and employers in my current role.

8. What does a day in your life look like?

I’m at the office by 8:30am before most of the product team arrives, which gives me time to check email and prepare for the morning meetings that I lead. We use a product called JIRA for project management, so I review new project requests and spend some time troubleshooting bugs or other issues that arise in the product. I meet with members of the sales, operations, customer success, and/or compliance team to scope projects they have requested. I spend a lot of time writing out project roadmaps, workflows, and creating detailed instructions for our designers and engineers. I also check in with our engineers on the work they are currently doing to find out what’s slowing them down. It is up to me to get them the answers they need to continue building out the product. I may hold a meeting to kick off a new project with an engineer, run a design by another team to make sure it fits their criteria, or review engineering work for quality assurance. I am constantly juggling prioritizing and planning what needs to get done next while also moving current projects forward. I typically leave the office around 5:30pm.

9. What are some lessons you've learned the hard way?

I learned the hard way that the single most important thing is your manager. Managing is a tough job when done well, and it’s easy to do it poorly. Making sure your manager is a good fit and will really manage you well can make or break a job experience. It’s the most important thing to pay attention to in a job interview.

10. How did you go about organizing your time while at Pomona? Did you plan everything or go with the flow?

I’d like to say I planned everything, but instead I ended up having no plan at all! I studied biology because I was good at it, and because I originally wanted to become an orthodontist. I did random biology-related internships each summer as well as a PCIP internship at a veterinary office, and I had a student job with the Annual Giving Office at Pomona. However, by the time I graduated I had no idea what I wanted to do. I moved back home and worked three part-time jobs for a year, half-heartedly searching for full-time positions while debating between applying for a master’s degree in culinary science, or one in higher education. Ultimately what motivated me to choose higher education and then to pursue work in student activities and alumni relations, was my time spent as Co-Chair of the Annual Events Committee at Pomona!

 

 

Brian '14

1. Is where you are currently where you thought you would end up?

Not at first – when I first arrived at Pomona, I wanted to be an orthodontist. However, I changed my mind during my time at Pomona, and now I am where I thought I would be!

2. How did you land you are your current role?

I came to my current role through two major experiences, plus the support of my advisers at Pomona: first, my Calculus II H course with Professor Shahriari taught me that I truly love mathematics and problem-solving. Second, a summer research internship in cancer research taught me that I want to be involved in cutting-edge public health research.

3. What is the most important leadership lesson you've learned and how is it valuable?

The most important lesson I’ve learned is to advocate for yourself and take advantage of the opportunities available to you: especially at Pomona, incredible opportunities are waiting for you to jump into. But you have to take the initiative!

4. What advice can you offer on how to progress in your chosen field/career?

Always keep in mind the motivation that originally brought you to research – sometimes, when you’re in the midst of a project, it is hard to keep the big picture in mind and you find your work difficult. Having the big picture motivation in mind helps with each step of the research process!

5. How would you describe your personal style? (in work/work-life balance)

I’m still figuring out my work-life balance. There is a lot of pressure in academia to push the balance quite far towards work and away from other activities. However, it is highly important to take some time away from your research – often, you may solve a problem more easily by stepping away from it for a time!

6. What do you wish you knew when you were a student at Pomona that you know now?

I wish I knew better how excited the Pomona professors were to help advance my career. I learned this late in my time at Pomona, but if I had known even as a first- or second-year student I think that I could have jumped more quickly into cool research opportunities.

7. What Motivates You?

Professionally, I’m motivated by solving public health problems that have a real-world impact on people’s lives. Personally, I’m motivated my deepening my connections with others and having a positive impact I’m my community.

8. What does a day in your life look like?

A typical day for me, right now, is: prepare materials for the course I’m teaching; interact with students both in a traditional lecture style and a more active learning-based style; either run experiments on my computer or do some mathematical calculations related to my dissertation; and have meetings with collaborators about cool scientific projects.

9. What are some lessons you've learned the hard way?

I have learned the hard way that it is easy to not protect time for yourself if you are excited about your work. I’ve gone through periods of intense stress because I took on too many projects because I was interested in all of them, but the combination led to far too much work. Sometimes, you have to say no!

10. How did you go about organizing your time while at Pomona? Did you plan everything or go with the flow?

I’m a planner by nature, but I definitely revised that plan based on experiences that I had while at Pomona. Since I was on the swim team in addition to doing my coursework, I had to schedule my time fairly rigorously so that I could meet all of my commitments. I’d say to make a plan, but definitely keep your mind open!