When investment banker Sameer Syed left JPMorgan for the world of
tech startups in 2012,
he didn’t quite know what to expect.
Today, he works in strategic partnerships at Google and runs
Wall Street to
Silicon Alley, an organization that aims to help other
financiers transition into the world of tech.
Speaking with Business Insider, Syed broke down some of the major
changes he experienced when switching industries.
Here, according to him, are the two biggest differences between
the fields of tech and finance:
1. Tech startups can be more flexible about face time
While working in investment banking, Syed would sometimes see his
coworkers sitting around in the office waiting for more work,
even after they completed their tasks for the day.
“People sometimes sit there because they’ve got to be there in
case something comes up,” he said. “At tech startups, you don’t
really have that because there’s a trust factor at a smaller
company. I trust you to get something done. I don’t need you to
sit in the office with us. I don’t need you always to be there.”
Syed said working in tech therefore tended to encourage more of a
work-life balance, allowing for flexible work and less time in
the office. That said, he added that he often took his work home
with him nowadays because he tends to enjoy it.
2. The work environment is more casual in tech
When Syed joined his first tech startup in 2012, he was
immediately struck by one thing: the way his coworkers wrote
“It was so casual and so relaxed,” he said. “As a financial
analyst, you wrote out these thoughtful emails and your attention
to detail had to be really good. You didn’t want to make a
mistake in an email and have someone senior read it. They might
be like, ‘This guy doesn’t really care about his work.'”
But things were quite different at the tech startup he joined.
“People were just shooting out emails left and right, as they’re
thinking things through,” he said. “There’d be mistakes in the
emails, but no one cared. People were not really measuring others
on the way they wrote an email to somebody.”
Syed said those differences in email habits reflected a generally
more relaxed work environment in tech.
“If you want to be able to move around and do different projects,
that’s great at a startup,” he says. “At a bank, it’s much more
structured. You pick a lane and you stick with it.”
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