Alum of the Month - January 2016

Mary Fox

My biggest achievement since graduating from LSE was finding the courage to give up a good opportunity in order to experience an even greater opportunity. Mary Fox

  • Programme studied: MSc Management, Organisations and Governance
  • Year of Graduation: 2014
  • LinkedIn profile

What's your current job? 

Talent Acquisition, Massdrop

Where have you worked previously?

Special Assistant at the Brookings Institution

How has the programme helped your career since you graduated? 

The MOG programme has helped my career in countless ways. The MOG professors served as mentors, constantly pushing me to new limits. Each lecture or meeting motivated me to try a little harder, reach a little further, and take risks with the hope of achieving ambitious goals. Through the MOG programme, I learned that my aversion to risk is quite low and I perform best when given tough challenges. This realization has given me the confidence to take on more responsibilities within Massdrop.

The MOG programme also taught me the importance of making decisions and taking action when indecision and inaction seem far more appealing. More specifically, I learned to utilize available information to solve problems as quickly and effectively as possible. This skill has served me well at Massdrop, as our executives hire individuals who are capable of making decisions with minimal oversight. I regularly reflect on the lessons I learned during MOG lectures or the advice I received from professors, and then apply these ideas to whichever problem I’m facing in the moment.

What has been your greatest achievement since you graduated?

My biggest achievement since graduating from LSE was finding the courage to give up a good opportunity in order to experience an even greater opportunity.

Soon after completing the MOG programme, I launched a company and quickly realized we were heading down the wrong path. I had huge ambitions for the company but few mentors and even less financial support. Worse still, our business model was flawed and we were not passionate about the problem we were attempting to solve for our customers. We had truly failed.

Around the same time, I was given the opportunity to become the Special Assistant to the CEO at Massdrop, a community-driven commerce company in San Francisco. I was reluctant to take the opportunity because I felt like I was giving up on my dream of starting a company. I began to recall conversations with several mentors at LSE who had encouraged me to work in a startup before launching my own venture. At the time, I politely dismissed their advice. With this in mind, I flew out to San Francisco on a Wednesday to interview for the position and by the following Monday, I was in the office taking on my next big adventure.

During my first six months at Massdrop, I served as the Special Assistant to the CEO and had a front-row seat as we raised our series B round of funding, hired several executives, optimised our recruiting process, increased our PR efforts, analyzed various revenue generating trends and tackled dozens of miscellaneous challenges each week. I learned more in that first six months at Massdrop than I would have learned in two years running my own company.

After closing our Series B round of funding, I transitioned to the Talent Acquisition team where we are using data to optimize our recruiting process.

What would you tell someone thinking of studying at the Department of Management?

The best part of studying in the MOG programme at LSE was the connections you will make with your cohort and professors.

Our programme consisted of over 65 students from dozens of different countries. We studied together, grabbed drinks together, and even went on holiday together. We now have an unofficial annual MOG trip and stay connected via Facebook. These people are truly some of the smartest in the world and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish in the coming years.

Separately, I recommend having at least two years of work experience before starting a programme in the Department of Management. The fours years of experience I had in research and project management helped me identify more closely with the topics we discussed on a daily basis. 

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would have taken a data analytics course. Data drives everything Massdrop does and despite working long hours, I spend much of my free time learning how best to utilize data in order to make informed decisions.