A senior executive assistant at Uber and self-described introvert shares the LinkedIn strategy that launched her career in Big Tech
- Katie Thomas is a senior executive assistant at Uber and a former assistant to Postmates' CFO.
- She worked her way up in tech by networking and posting frequently on LinkedIn.
Katie Thomas has been a senior executive business partner at Uber since March 2021, after the ride-hailing giant acquired her previous employer, Postmates, for $2.65 billion. Before that, she was the executive assistant to Postmates' chief financial officer.
A self-described introvert who seeks out careers with "mission-driven companies," Thomas worked her way into Big Tech after starting as a receptionist for a private-equity firm. She told Jessica Vann, the CEO of Maven Recruiting Group, on a recent episode of the podcast "Reach" that "taking a shot" with a good first impression — whether in real life or online — early in her career opened a lot of doors.
Her first piece of advice to anyone starting out is to be active on LinkedIn and connect with people whose career paths mirror your goals. Here's how — and her tips for interviewing for a role at a big tech company.
Be honest, and be yourself
A few months after beginning her role at Postmates in April 2020, Thomas posted on LinkedIn about her "unusual journey" starting a job entirely remotely, expressing gratitude for "the chance to expand my horizons and challenge myself." The post received more than 3,000 likes and 100 comments.
"That was an inspiring moment," Thomas said on the podcast. Since then, she added, she's grown her profile to more than 2,200 followers by "recognizing my value and the accomplishments I have made."
For anyone trying to be more active on the platform, she warned against copying how others engage. "Be as authentic as possible in the things that you like and the things that you comment on, the people you connect with," she said.
Send your message far and wide
Thomas' position with Postmates was also her first time assisting anyone in the C-suite. So, eager to find a mentor who could guide her through this new challenge, Thomas messaged about 30 to 40 executive assistants who supported CFOs in the tech industry.
She said she told them it was her first time working in tech and for a C-suite and asked for any tips and tricks. She added that while she got only a few responses, "those few people that I was able to connect with, I still connect with to this day."
These contacts, she said, remained some of her "biggest cheerleaders" as she transitioned to new roles in the industry.
Be bold in a way that works for you
Thomas said she often finds networking and work events draining, so it was crucial to find "that right method or tool that works for you."
Once, when covering for someone on leave, Thomas had to reschedule an executive's meeting with Salesforce. Thomas Googled the executive assistant at Salesforce and saw that she had an impressive background.
"She was where I wanted to be five or 10 years from now," Thomas said. Getting a "good vibe" from email exchanges, Thomas said, she asked if the other executive assistant wanted to get a coffee or a drink.
"The worst they can say is no," Thomas said.
Thomas said that they went for a drink a few weeks later and that the executive assistant "really helped me think through what my next steps would be."
Thomas credited this experience with pushing her to be bolder when it came to LinkedIn and other networking opportunities.
Come prepared with talking points
Thomas said positivity is her superpower in interviewing for roles in tech. "People understand who I am right off the bat, and that sometimes that might not work for everyone," she said. But by being authentic, Thomas added, she can "weed out" people she might not enjoy working for.
Asking smart questions is crucial, too. "It's easy to be asked questions the whole time and not come prepared with ones of your own," Thomas said. Some of her favorite to ask are "How much time do you spend with your direct reports?" "What are your priorities in your business as well as your personal life?" and "Are there are other executive assistants I may be working with?"
If the answer to the last question is yes, Thomas said, she'll ask herself: "Are they also excited about their growth? Are they willing to help and help me understand what's going on?"
She added that executive assistants should be prepared with "points of why you want to work there and what's important to you and the things that are exciting to you about what that company is doing."
She said that in her experience, interviewers want to hear about an interviewee's ideas and goals — what they're working toward, and whether they're going to partner with the executive and match them in terms of hard work and care. "I always make sure that I am researching what they're doing and the things I want to help with," Thomas said.
Thomas said that finding the right executive to "grow with me" has been another key to her success. That means supporting someone who understands her goals — one of which, she said, is "working with other kind people."
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