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Campus News

Business in Silicon Valley
Posted 07/23/2019 03:49PM


Jesuit's business club, The Company, recently sent its officers to Silicon Valley for five days (July 8-13) to meet with some of the world's leading companies.

Club officers (L-R on the homepage) Charlie Sanders '20 (VP of HR), Eliot Glein '21 (DO), Dawson Kiser '21 (DO), Gabe Herrera '20 (CFO), Harrison Huseby '20 (VP of R&D), Jake Kadet '20 (COO), and Brennen Gil '20 (CEO) were accompanied by Jesuit Engineering program leader/Robotics Club moderator Lauren Hescheles and school secretary Michelle Guenther. The seven officers visited with executives at eight companies over four days: Accenture, DFJ Growth, eBay, EFI, Facebook, Google, Oracle, and Tesla.

After arriving in San Francisco, the first stop on July 9 was at EFI (Electronics for Imaging). The Company met with a variety of EFI professionals who provided insight on their roles. The HR department discussed methods of efficient organization for employees and perspectives within the company. A lawyer in the mergers and acquisitions department explained the process of buying smaller companies to enter new markets and with new technologies. The linguistics team provided details on how that department streamlined the process of translating instructional manuals from costing an average of $200,000 to $6,000 per project.

That afternoon, the group visited the 5-million-square-foot Tesla factory. They began with a tram tour of the assembly floor, close enough to the assembly line to see the machine processes used to construct Tesla vehicles. A manufacturing engineer took them to the other half of the factory, which produces solar panels. The Company observed the manufacturing of solar panels designed to look like roof tiles and window panes for seamless integration on homes, with a technical explanation from the manufacturing engineer. They also met with an intern who explained how he landed his position with Tesla and gave advice for others who want to do the same.

The following day (July 10), The Company toured DFJ Growth, a venture capital firm that invests in growth-stage technology companies that are scaling rapidly. Glein's uncle Randy Glein, who is a co-founder and managing director for DFJ Growth, explained the ins and outs of venture capital investments, as well as how it differed from investing in public stocks. Companies DFJ Growth has invested in include Tesla, Space X, Unity Technologies, Twitter, Redfin, and Box, Inc. Glein also detailed the track a prospective employee would need to take in order to begin a career with a firm such as DFJ Growth.

That afternoon, the group visited Google and met with a developer from Google Brain, Google's cognitive intelligence team. The developer explained what it was like to be a leader of a small team that works on different projects related to TensorFlow, a free, open-source software library used for machine learning applications like neural networks. Half of his team's work on focuses on text and image recognition AI, and the other half focuses on artificial intelligence for game theory, using AI to compete at the highest level of competition in games like chess. The developer provided information on how to begin a career or internship with Google and gave advice for the interview process.

The next morning (July 11), The Company met with eBay's fashion merchandising team, which works with clothing brands including Under Armour, Nike, GAP, and Louis Vuitton to create brand feature pages and coordinate with those companies to bring in online shoppers. They explained how eBay is strictly a software-based company and not a distributor or retailer, never actually handling or processing any of the goods sold on its platform. They detailed eBay's success after a brand-identity shift, emphasizing its value as an e-commerce site for low-volume, high-margin specialty and collector goods for third-party buyers and sellers.

Later that day the group visited Oracle, where they met with a guide and were shown USA 17, a large trimaran that won the America's Cup, the renowned sailing competition, in 2010. It was built in part by Larry Ellison, Oracle's then-CEO. Afterwards, The Company met with Oracle's Chief Corporate Architect, Edward Screven '82, in an executive boardroom. Screven, a Jesuit alumnus, provided insight on his role with Oracle, emphasizing the importance of trust for others in a management role and keeping relationships organized. In contrast to much of the advice The Company had received during a similar trip to Atlanta last summer, Screven emphasized the importance of hard skills and achievements that can be quantified over talents such as leadership and public speaking, attesting that while those skills are important, objective and measurable skills will take precedence in a competitive job market such as Silicon Valley's.

"This advice made me realize the true value of having technical skills," said Gil. "I've always thought I was a pretty good speaker, presenter, and storyteller, and I can just be okay at everything else and get by. That's not necessarily true. In order to present myself in the greatest light for my ambitions, I'm going to need statistics to back me up."

The next day (July 12), The Company visited Accenture's San Francisco Innovation Hub on the 30th floor of Salesforce Tower. The group was introduced to two guides, one local team member and one from a team in Germany. After a few icebreakers and team-building activities, the employees explained that the Innovation Hub designs and provides technological solutions for companies that do not have the time or resources to do so. The group was walked through the design process for projects by mapping goals, problems, and solutions, culminating with a first-hand look at some of the technology used by the Innovation Hub, including 3D printers, HoloLenses, VR sunglasses, and The Igloo, a 360-degree immersive space surrounded by screens and projectors.

The group's final visit was to Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park. The campus resembles a small town, and The Company was chaperoned to a conference room where Facebook's global security team gave a presentation on the physical security and cybersecurity used by the organization. They met with the campus designer who explained the global security team is in charge of designing and monitoring all 140 Facebook buildings around the world. A cybersecurity team member discussed how Facebook monitors and defends against hackers either looking to gain notoriety for getting through the tech giant's security measures, or to steal users' data for profit. The visit ended with a tour through Facebook's security headquarters.

The club officers from The Company look forward to sharing the amazing knowledge they gained in Silicon Valley with the general members of the club, and to use that knowledge to improve club meetings and activities. They plan to restructure how club meetings and small groups operate, include more in-depth discussions and presentations, and host guest speakers with more diverse professional backgrounds.

Please view a photo slideshow of The Company's trip to Silicon Valley below:

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