Top 10 things we learned at the 2014 Tech Focus Forum

Energy Focus Forum

At this year’s Tech Focus Forum, co-hosted by NetApp, attendees gathered to debate issues, share best practices, and participate in moderated discussions on key topics in the technology industry. If you were not able to attend the 2014 Tech Focus Forum, make sure you don’t miss out on any of the great content shared!

Here are the top 10 takeaways from this year’s event:

  1. The value of an MBA in the tech industry is largely related to their leadership potential, leadership mentality, adaptability, and diverse backgrounds.
  2. Candidates should be more open to tech careers outside of the San Francisco Bay area. Silicon Valley is central to the tech industry, but the cost of living is huge, and many other locations offer their own industry specialties and satellite offices. Employers often want to see candidates who are willing to put their 2+ years in elsewhere, before working at the headquarters.
  3. There are many trade-offs between working for a tech startup vs. working for an established tech company. Startups often provide a more fun and casual environment, but they typically lack the well-defined structure and benefits provided by an established company. The company may have a swing in the office, but do they have a pension plan? Students should also be aware that they can get an entrepreneur-like experience in a non-startup company.
  4. If a candidate is not getting the answers they’re looking for from the company they are interviewing with, e.g., a structured path of future career opportunities, it may not be a right-fit culture. Tech companies are looking for candidates that can think big, think globally, and think outside of what the company can offer them today.
  5. Tech is unlike other industries in that it lacks a long-established recruiting and compensation negotiation process. Tech employers want candidates to be honest about their compensation requirements from square one, and share the factors against their decision makers, before the offer is made.
  6. Tech industry recruiters are searching for candidates with tenacity, curiosity, openness, and a hunger to learn. Candidates need to leave their egos and firm expectations at the door.
  7. There is a long-time issue of gender inequality in business, and that issue still persists, but the lens is finally changing. Companies are now involving men in the conversation, and asking, “How do we overcome this together?” Part of this process is training staff to look at candidates without an unconscious bias towards women during the hiring process.
  8. Employers need to be transparent about their intentions to grow as a gender equality-focused company. There is value in being open about the fact that they’re in the beginning of the process.
  9. Tech employers are looking for candidates with computer science backgrounds who went back for their MBA. MBAs without a tech background should be attending meet ups, looking at tech blogs, and networking with tech professionals to demonstrate their drive and passion for the industry.
  10. There is no blanket statement concerning what level of tech-related knowledge a product management career requires. It is different from company to company, and students need to leverage their alumni network to better understand these differences.

Did we miss any? Comment below if you have any takeaways or best practices to add to our list!




Lauren Kleban

Lauren joined MBA Focus in the summer of 2013, to help plan, produce, and implement both industry and product-related communications. Primarily responsible for copywriting, Lauren creates consistent and strategic messaging throughout marketing and sales material. By applying creative marketing concepts, she helps MBA Focus to build and maintain its brand, while promoting its exclusive network, recruitment technology, and career management tools. Lauren graduated from The Ohio State University in 2013, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a specialization in Marketing.

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