In “From Consulting to Enterprise AI” Ken talks to Dan Calpin, a Bain & Company partner turned tech startup president, about his career moves, the capacity of AI to complete complex tasks at scale, and some important insights for the shift from consulting to enterprise operations at Hive.
Below are some key takeaways about the powerhouse that constitutes a consulting background and some strategic behaviors that leverage that training for significant career and industry results.
Consulting is the Fastest Highway to Your Goals
For Calpin, consulting provides the dual pillars of research and adaptability. His work at Bain meant hours of methodical data collection, analysis, and presentation in order to produce the most actionable learnings. This practice was paired with necessary flexibility.
The work done at Bain meant he not only had to be ready to pivot, but pivot with caution to navigate the needs of clients as well as trends. Ultimately, his training as a consultant not only prepared him as a trusted source of insights, but it prepared him with a strong foundation for making a leap to Hive.
Knowing When to Exit the Highway
Calpin’s advice based on his own move is that your next role should build on your skills as a consultant (not just maintain them). His stance here provides the clearest view into why he shifted away from his position as Bain partner to Hive president.
As a person who passionately followed his interests at Bain, and explored industries that captivated his imagination, Calpin sets himself apart by soldering fascination to output. He was on the ground floor of digital disruption in both music and television where he dove into his interests in the entertainment industry.
That is, his professional growth develops in tandem with his intellectual pursuits. At Hive, this means that his skills in research and adaptability were further honed for a fast-paced industry that demanded he add a tech proficiency in his new role.
Six Weeks and a Hundred Slides to a Few Bullets on Slack
Calpin also notes an important shift away from the perfection and preparedness required of him as a consultant and towards the critical velocity required of him as a leader in a start-up. There simply isn’t time for research that would remove all doubt about a course of action or consensus.
Instead, winning in a tech start-up means getting to the right place, or as close to the target, first. Better to attempt, iterate, and arrive than lag behind in the pursuit of certainty.
Acting the Corporate Culture’s Age
Calpin highlights the keen difference in how credibility and legibility are garnered in the arena of consulting versus his current position. At Bain, he worked to signal wisdom through an appeal to formality for an audience of clients that skew older. At Hive, he signals his relatability to his twenty-something staff. The takeaway here is to be aware of yourself and your audience then do the legwork to close the gap between the two of you.
No Sitting on Fences
Perhaps Calpin’s most striking offer is to commit to whatever it is you’re doing. At Bain that served to give him a rich array of work and a role as partner. At Hive, committing fully serves to make him a linchpin thinker at the intersection of tech and strategy.
Ani Govjian, Ph.D. is a Project Manager at TalentCompass. She can be reached at [email protected]