Webb was at the Silicon Valley social-media behemoth to welcome this year’s Tuck Technology Boot Camp participants, after he himself went on the inaugural trip last year. It was during that program that Webb concluded it was best to focus during internship recruiting on what he really wanted. “We got a lot of really consistent advice that you go to work for a company that you’re really interested in and you believe in, and don’t really worry so much about the role and the job title, because those tend to take care of themselves as you excel,” says Webb, 30, who has a BA in business with an economics minor from San Diego State University. “Don’t hedge your bets – pick what you want to do and do it, and don’t go recruiting for something else. I could’ve recruited for consulting, or I could’ve recruited for banking.”
Had he recruited for those industries, the offers would’ve come in before any invitation from Facebook, he says. “It’s scary, especially when you see all your classmates getting offers in the early winter and you think, ‘Oh, it would’ve been great to recruit for consulting because I’d know where I’m going right now.’ But in the end it worked out.”
EYES ON EYES IN THE SKY
Webb had spent about four-and-a-half years as a civilian financial analyst for the U.S. Navy, work that cemented his interest in tech. “I got to see a lot of really cool technology,” he says, “servers, computers, enterprise software, communications systems, drones, satellite systems.”
But the slow pace of government projects, however meaningful, galled. “It wears on you to want to work on something really cool and impactful but to be limited,” he says. “That’s what drove me to want to work in tech in the private sector.”
Exposure to the Silicon Valley tech industry last year helped him understand where opportunities and his interests aligned – largely around drones, including aircraft and self-driving vehicles.
Although his internship at Facebook in product management focuses on user support, Webb sees the job as a stepping stone to a career pursuing his primary interests. “Facebook’s a really good place to learn and grow to be able to take advantage of those opportunities when they come up professionally.”
Webb reckons Facebook hired him because his history working with the Navy showed he could execute – for one project, he’d taught himself the programming language VBA and built an automated a process to save 250 person-hours of labor per year. At Facebook, he says, “there’s a really big focus on people who can get things done.
A GOOD REASON FOR SKIPPING A MEETING
“They’re interested in people that will make impact. They talk about . . . don’t go to meetings, don’t do things you’re not truly providing value to. If you can do things that can provide more impact to users, go do those.”
As a product manager with a non-tech background, Webb is an anomaly in Silicon Valley, but not at Facebook, he says. “They understand that capable management doesn’t necessarily stem from a computer science background. Facebook’s one of the few companies in the Valley that doesn’t require a computer science background for their product managers – a lot of the big tech companies, that’s a requirement. The people that I worked with were more interested in the kind of things I could get done in the three months than whether I had an MBA or a computer science degree.”
Nevertheless, his colleagues and supervisors “looked highly” on his efforts to learn whatever he needed on the tech side, such as working with Python code to create a script for automation. “It’s like going to a foreign country: you give it your best shot. You don’t immediately pretend like you’re just going to never understand what’s going on. You’re in the software industry, you need to put in the time to understand.
“If you don’t come from a computer science background, I think the alternative is to be able to demonstrate that you pick up things quickly and can keep up.”
The Tuck MBA program’s general management focus forced him in his first year to constantly switch contexts – accounting to economics to leadership to strategy – and facilitated his adaptation to the job at Facebook, where he’s worked on multiple projects, he says. “That ability to constantly switch contexts that is kind of fostered in the general management curriculum has really helped here in order for me to manage the constantly different demands on my time.
A BLISTERING PACE AND A HEAVY WORKLOAD
“Facebook has this saying, ‘move fast and break things,’ and they’re serious. You get here and you immediately start racing toward an objective. It’s not a place where you explore what you’re going to do with your life.”
In fact, there’s little time for navel-gazing. Webb says he works “easily 60 hours a week.” But, he says, Facebook’s amenities allow for time saving – he gets his hair cut on campus, the company does his laundry, and he had a great time on his third day during a company trip to the Point Reyes National Seashore for some oyster shucking.
One of the leading job benefits, however, is working with his Facebook colleagues, “universally super smart people across the board.
“It forces you to change and alter, and change the way you look at things.”