Monday, September 30, 2013

My Top 5 Companies

One of the most valuable pieces of career advice I've ever received was from a friend who told me that I should get a list of the Top 5 Companies that I want to work for.

I thought it was a little silly at the time. After all, that wasn't how the job market worked, was it? There were ads in the classified section or on job boards. You searched for the position you wanted, not the company itself.

But then he said something very profound: If you choose a company because of a job, and that job changes or goes away, your entire reason for being in the company is gone. If you choose a job because of a company, you'll want to grow with the company and to stay at the company longer.

It took several years before I realized the true meaning of those two sentences. So, I took his advice and started to think about the companies that I'd long admired. I looked back at my life, my interests and passions and thought about the companies that I could bring those passions to on a daily basis. The results have changed over the years, of course, and the number '5' has always been more of a guideline rather than a hard limit.  Without further delay....


This should come as no surprise to anyone who's ever met me. I've always been an early adopter of Microsoft technology, whether it was an operating system, game console or telephone. While some people think of Microsoft as the "Evil Empire", I see what the company was (and is) trying to accomplish by integrating technology into everyday life. If anything, I would like them to take a cue from Google and get back to their innovative roots.

I had the opportunity to visit the Redmond campus back in 2001 for a pre-release retail training for Windows XP. The moment I walked through the front doors until long after I'd left that day, all I could think was "This is where I want to be." Microsoft has the ability to be a game changer in whatever sector is decides to be in. I want to be part of it

The Walt Disney Company

Again, this should come as no shock. Disney, along with Microsoft, is one of the two companies to have been on this list since the very beginning. 

I first visited Disney World when I was two years old, and have probably walked through the main gates over 100 times. That's not bad for someone who's only lived in Florida for the past four years. We would take the yearly 1000+ mile pilgrimages riding in the back seat of the car from Montreal or Pennsylvania to someplace in the middle of nowhere, Florida. I would get engaged there, and married there. Disney made my spirit whole again after the events of 9/11. Disney was more than a couple of theme parks and some movies.

 Disney has always been a place of Magic. I've seen kids of all ages light up when they see Mickey. Nevermind that that mouse is, in all likelyhood, a young lady in a suit. It's what Mickey Mouse stands for that makes all the difference. It was Walt's dream of a better tomorrow. It was his dream of E.P.C.O.T. (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow). It is a list of achievements and dreams far too many to list. It's something bigger.

Tesla / SpaceX

Elon Musk - enough said?

I, I NEED to be part of a vision, something that is bigger than myself. I can think of no bigger visionary in the world than Elon Musk. 

Couple the leadership factor with the absolutely amazingly cool toys I'd get to work with at either Tesla or SpaceX and it's easy to see why this would be a dream job.


Everyone knows about the book store and the Kindle. But did you know that Amazon Web Services has a higher market share of the cloud server market than Microsoft? Amazon Prime has been making headway in allowing customers to get their TV programming without having cable (something near and dear to my heart). Amazon Fresh is providing grocery store delivery in certain markets. 

Amazon has been on the cutting edge of consumer innovation for its entire history. It's a great example of  a company that is looking at the problems facing the average consumer and asking "How can we fix this?" 


Yes, Target. Not in the stores, mind you. I've already done that. I want to be in Analytics. 

Target made news with their analytics team last year when they determined (correctly) that a young, teenage girl was pregnant before her family did. The company had to make some adjustments and to change some of its policies after that incident so that that sort of delicate situation wouldn't occur again. But the cat was out of the bag. The possibilities for 'Big Data' were out there for the world to see. Some people were appalled at the invasion of privacy. 

I was excited. If a retail company, something I knew a lot about, could predict consumer buying patterns that well, the possibilities were endless. Never again could a company fail to understand its customer. Companies could target ads and products directly to their consumer. THEIR consumer - not just any consumer that walked through the door. Here was an intellectual solution to a problem that I'd dealt with on a daily basis at Circuit City. That one news report was instrumental in shaping my future career choice. 

OK, so this is more than five. But there are more that are very high on my list as well: IBM, Electronic Arts, Eidos, BMW, and Lotus Engineering.

Next post, I'll return to Part 2 of my Journey post: My Long List of Graduate Schools