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Black Enterprise July 2012 : Page 51

THE WORK I DO Finding the Big Idea A young developer lands an enterprising position in the world of venture capital Name: Tristan Walker Current Position: Entrepreneur in Residence, Andreessen Horowitz, also known as A16Z Age: 28 Education: In 2005, Walker graduated vale-dictorian from Stony Brook University afer three years. He received an M.B.A. in 2010 from Stan-ford University’s Graduate School of Business. JULY 2012 • PHOTOGRAPHS BY EDWARD CALDWELL • EDITED BY SONIA ALLEYNE @SONIAALLEYNE 51



Finding the Big Idea

A young developer lands an enterprising position in the world of venture capital

Name: Tristan Walker

Current Position: Entrepreneur in Residence, Andreessen Horowitz, also known as A16Z

Age: 28

Education: In 2005, Walker graduated valedictorian from Stony Brook University afer three years. He received an M.B.A. in 2010 from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

Previous Job:

Walker was one of the very first employees at Foursquare when he joined in 2009. He e-mailed co-founder Dennis Crowley eight times and financed his own trip from Los Angeles to New York to meet with the founders before he was offered the job. At Foursquare, he led all strategic partnerships and monetization for the organization and spearheaded partnerships with companies such as American Express, Starbucks, and The New York Times. His last position was director of business development at Foursquare.


An EIR can take a few paths. Some join a venture capital firm. Others join a portfolio company owned by the firm. Walker will be at A16Z (, with a team to help him think through ideas for potential business opportunities. “I get to leverage the resources of the firm,” says Walker. “A colleague of mine teased me: ‘Let me get this right, you’re essentially getting a salary to brainstorm with [Silicon Valley powerhouse team] Ben Horowitz and Marc Andreessen?’ Absolutely, and hopefully I’ll build something that is important to the world.”

Unique Exchange:

Most firms generally hire EIRs who have specific domain expertise that the organization can leverage, explains Walker. “I worked really hard at Foursquare and have some semblance of expertise in local, mobile, and social. A16Z has folks in existing portfolio companies who can benefit from what I learned at Foursquare. Also, I have a pretty great relationship with Ben Horowitz. He knows I’m capable of executing, and I have a lot to learn from him as well. When I start a company, they get the opportunity to decide whether or not they want to invest in my company and they get to see it before anyone else.”

Learning Curve:

Walker interned at Twitter during his first year in business school. There he interviewed corporations and merchants to learn how the service benefited them. “I knew there were brands that used Twitter. Foursquare was just an offline manifestation of Twitter. But once I got there I had no idea about local [i.e. location-based marketing],” says Walker, who formerly worked as an oil trader on Wall Street. “As a company we were really creating an industry, so the learning curve was steep. When I secured the role at Foursquare I was able to out-compete people 20 years my senior because they didn’t understand the new industry either. So it put me on an even playing field.”

Major Accomplishment:

Foursquare was the first third-party social service to be connected to American Express credit cards. “You know, when you check in, get a mobile coupon, and you have to show it to the cashier. It’s a terrible process. You don’t know if the cashier knows what you’re talking about,” says Walker. “We fixed the redemption experience.” Now you can go to, log in, and connect your Foursquare account to your credit card. If you see a deal, you can check in, unlock the deal, and when the cashier swipes the card, you get a push notification to your phone saying, ‘Thank you for your purchase, expect to receive a credit on your statement.’

“It’s an experience everybody’s used to. It’s safe, and more importantly we can now show merchants that we can help them measure the value of offline advertising. We can tell a merchant that 1,000 people saw your special nearby, 500 people checked in, 250 people redeemed the deal, and spent $1,000. We are able to measure the effectiveness of that advertising all the way down the funnel. That was my baby.”

Skill Set:

You’ll need “tenacity, if you’re in sales, because you’re going to be turned down a lot. Patience, because engineers are unquestionably the important folks out here. Everything I do is just support work for them. You need to understand how to support them in the best way possible. Finally, never stop asking questions—that is paramount. Also, you don’t get what you don’t ask for. A big reason for me getting to where I am is because I am willing to ask six questions when other people are only willing to ask five.”

Extracurricular Passion:

Walker started the nonprofit Code:2040 ( The goal is to get the highest performing black and Latino engineering undergraduates internships in Silicon Valley. This summer the organization will have about five interns at some of the top startups in the Valley. “We are going to provide the interns with all the skills and training they need to be incredibly successful. We have some bright kids. I’m psyched.” —Marcia Wade Talbert


The 2-Hour Job Search

Stop wasting time and focus on where you can get results

“THE BIGGEST LIE TOLD TO JOB SEEKERS IS THAT searching for employment is a full-time job,” says Steve Dalton, senior associate director of the Career Management Center at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and author of The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster (Ten Speed Press; $12.99). “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

The veteran career consultant suggests that job seekers focus their energy on activities such as finding companies that are currently hiring, researching employment at those companies, and securing referrals from employees within those companies to improve their job search effectiveness and efficiency.

“Everything else is busy work,” he quips, referring to tasks such as repeatedly tweaking your résumé, reading through endless job postings, and submitting countless résumés to job ads.

“The online job application process is inefficient,” insists Dalton. “Online job postings have destroyed the value of the résumé and forever ruined the old-fashioned mail-and-wait strategy.” He argues that while technology makes the process of looking for work easier, there are several reasons why the process actually makes it harder to get a job. For one, he says, few recruiters sif through the thousands of résumés they receive for any one job post. Instead, employers rely on referrals from company employees and professional colleagues because the quality of online applicants may be diluted and the number of people applying makes it hard for individuals to stand out.

“Advocacy matters more in today’s job search than qualifications. Proficient job seekers will leverage the best of technology to find and recruit the best of referrals to get their next job,” asserts Dalton. Follow Dalton’s 2-Hour Job Search process to gain the greatest return on your job-hunting efforts.

Create and Prioritize

Take 40 minutes to compile a list of 10 employers combined from these four categories: (1) Dream employers: those companies for which you’ve always wanted to work; (2) Alumni employers: these are companies who have hired professionals from your alma mater; (3) Posting employers: located on job search engines such as; (4) Trending employers: companies that are involved in new and emerging industries. Prioritize the list according to personal appeal, current hiring status, and internal referral potential.

Contact and Qualify

Take 50 minutes to identify and secure conversations with potential referrals at your top target employers. Dalton recommends a linear approach to your outreach, starting first with alumni directories, then LinkedIn, then other avenues such as Facebook, Google searches, and cold calls to find several contacts for each company. Request an informational interview by sending a concise e-mail of fewer than 100 words and that does not mention a particular job. Limit follow-up attempts to just once per contact afer your initial outreach and eliminate those who don’t respond.

Recruit Referrals

Use the final 30 minutes to conduct the informational interview with each contact. The goal of the discussion is to build rapport, solicit information, and obtain a referral for a job within the interviewee’s company. Dalton recommends focusing on topics that highlight the interviewee’s knowledge: Trends, Insights, Advice, Resources, and Assignments (TIARA). Questions might include: What trends are most impacting your business right now? What surprises you most about your job? What can I do right now to best prepare for a career in this field? What resources should I be sure to look into next? Which projects are most important in your work? What you ask should frame your contact as an expert, one who can be converted to a mentor with progressively more inquisitive questions.

—Marcia A. Reed-Woodard


Gains in Retail

Macy’s exec points to diverse industry job opportunities

AS THE ECONOMY STRUGGLES TO PROVIDE JOB opportunities to the millions of Americans out of work, retail offers some promise as a job segment poised for substantial growth in the next decade. Employment in the retail trade is expected to grow by 12%, with 1.8 million new jobs from 2010 to 2020, and more than half of the 1.9 million jobs in sales will occur in retail, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The growth of new economies in emerging markets and of technology will provide new and global opportunities in a range of areas from customer service and human resources to retail management. But consumer spending is also up. Retailers posted a 4% increase in sales since May of last year.

Technology with an emphasis on customer service has helped drive sales for Macy’s Inc., which saw a 43% increase during this year’s first quarter to $6.143 billion. Strategies such as omnichannel integration, which strives to provide a seamless and more engaged approach for customers who shop in store, online, or on a mobile device, and partnerships with FifyOne Global, a third-party e-commerce solution that connects the brand to more than 90 countries worldwide, will provide broad employment opportunities, says William Hawthorne, vice president of diversity strategies and legal affairs at Macy’s. Here, he offers insight on where they expect to source talent.

Where does Macy’s see job growth opportunities for minorities beyond sales?

A company like Macy’s needs the most sophisticated talent in every aspect of our business from merchandising to marketing, store management, operations, human resources, finance, legal, etc.

In the areas of purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that job growth over the next 10 years will be about 7%. Are there other areas that prospective retail professionals should consider?

As Macy’s grows our omnichannel initiatives, we will also grow the talent to support this strategy. We are seeking experts in technical areas such as programming, digital marketing, merchandise analytics, and system analysts as well as growing talent pipelines for those business units that support this strategy such as supply chain, logistics, operations, etc. We are committed to the success of omnichannel and invested in hiring the right talent to drive all areas that drive our technical strategy.

As many people are transitioning across industries, are there certain skill sets that are transferable to retail?

At Macy’s, we have employees who come from many different professional experiences, some with vast retail experience and others with little to no previous retail experience. They each bring with them a unique set of skills that enhance, challenge, and inspire our business. Some positions require excellent leadership skills while others require excellent analytical abilities. Macy’s is seeking outstanding talent across many areas of our business that require a wide range of unique skills.

—Sonia Alleyne


Keep it Moving

Globalization, increased metrics, social media, emerging markets, and market segmentation have transformed how business is conducted in virtually every industry. Are you keeping pace with the rapid speed of change? How valued is your position within your current organization? Within the industry? Just because a company maintains your job doesn’t mean that it will remain relevant. Training, certification, and even an additional degree will help keep you competitive, but your job should also continually challenge your current skill set to match the demands of your industry.

Contact sonia alleyne at or @soniaalleyne.


Valentino D. Carlotti

New Position: Head of the Securities Division, Institutional Client Group

Organization: Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Location: New York

Former Position: President, Goldman Sachs Brazil Bank

Background/Responsibilities: Carlotti, who is also a Goldman partner, will coordinate with senior leadership across the divisions of the firm to leverage appropriate resources for clients of the Securities Division. Aside from being president of Goldman Sachs Brazil Bank, he has also worked in London and New York in Equities and FICC Management. The Yale graduate with an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School joined the firm in 1994 in the Investment Banking Division as a banker engaged in financing, mergers, and acquisitions transactions in the Communications, Media and Entertainment Group. He is a board member of the Boys Club of New York, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the American Ballet Theatre.

Evette Beckett-Tuggle

New Position: President and CEO

Organization: Carolinas Minority Supplier Development Council

Location: Charlotte, NC

Responsibilities: Provide leadership and strategic planning for the nonprofit affiliate, which enhances business opportunities between minority business and corporate members

Former Position: Executive Director, Business Development Unit, Nassau County Office of Economic Development

Keith Wyche

New Position: President, ACME Markets

Organization: SUPERVALU Inc.

Location: Philadelphia

Responsibilities: Direct efforts to improve sales and profitability, refocus customer service efforts, and enhance shopper satisfaction

Former Position: President, Cub Foods Division

Meredith Moore

New Position: Director, Global Community Affairs

Organization: McDonald’s Corp.

Location: Oak Brook, IL

Responsibilities: Help to increase the corporation’s visibility through community outreach by leveraging relationships with global and local organizations, and establishing partnerships that are good for the community and for the McDonald’s brand

Former Position: Director, External Relations and Brand Outreach

Tokunbo Akinbajo

New Position: Senior Attorney

Organization: Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.

Location: Stratford, CT

Responsibilities: Provide legal leadership in structuring, negotiating, and closing sophisticated transactions that are developed to sell Sikorsky helicopters and related services to commercial and government buyers worldwide

Former Position: Associate, Jackson Lewis L.L.P.

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