Ricky Stephens ’12; History Major; Business Operations Analyst @ Red Ventures
It comes as no shock that Red Ventures has decided to go against the norm and to hold their Information and Networking Session at the on-campus location of Summit Coffee on Monday, September 22nd, from 6:30pm-7:45pm. A week ago, the College announced a 10-year partnership with Red Ventures, aimed at placing more Davidson graduates at career paths at the company. Anticipating their return to campus, we interviewed Ricky Stephens’12, an analyst at the firm, about his experiences so far.
Q: What attracted you to the company and role?
A: Before my senior year, I had my first internship in anything related to business, working for a search fund in Charlotte (essentially a one-man private equity fund). I enjoyed the experience but still felt overwhelmed with the looming job search. What company or industry did I want to launch my career with? What type of role was I looking for? I received these questions often, but I didn’t even know if a business job was necessarily what I wanted straight out of school. So my boss at the time had me go through an exercise to brainstorm ideal characteristics and responsibilities that I would want in a job, rather than try to nail down a specific company or industry right off the bat. I wrote down things like “working with a team to solve problems”; “ability to speak openly about and enact my own ideas”; “fun and cordial work atmosphere.” It’s funny because I don’t think it even hit me fully during my interview process, but a few months after I started I thought back to that exercise and realized that so many of those core characteristics I had highlighted were very present in my job at RV. That’s when I knew I was at the right place.
Q: What is the culture at Red Ventures like, and how is it conducive of a liberal arts background?
A: If I had to sum up the culture in 3 words, I would say: curiosity, ownership, and GO! Curiosity in that questioning the way things currently operate here is a requirement. This is probably the aspect of RV’s culture that parallels the liberal arts education most closely, and I think it was the easiest one for me to pick up and run with. Ownership in that when you have a new idea that you want to test, it is up to you to implement it. There are plenty of people around to help guide you, and many will go out of their way to do so, but it’s completely on you to see your own tasks or ideas through to fruition. And GO in that when you do take on a new project, you’re expected to start learning from day one and make impactful changes quickly. I see a ton of ways for Davidson students to take on ownership across a variety of projects, organizations, activities, etc., and it’s been very cool to see more opportunities arise just in the couple years since I graduated – the Entrepreneurship Initiative definitely comes to mind. But some of that intensity and knack for driving ideas forward at a rapid pace is tough to learn when you are balancing 4 classes with other responsibilities; I know at Davidson it is easy to get involved in more activities than people truly have time for. One of the things I’ve taken away from this job is that narrowing your scope to allow for a greater focus on fewer things can be positive (so can asking for help).
Q: What resources at Davidson helped you prepare for your current role?
A: The ascent of Career Services during my time at Davidson is a major reason I was able to find Red Ventures and prepare myself well for the case interviews. They have so many more resources than I think a lot of students necessarily realize, and the biggest one might be Alenda Links. Davidson alums never fail to impress me in their loyalty and their willingness to go the extra mile to help out a fellow Wildcat. Use us to be curious and establish worthwhile connections.
Q: What do you love the most about your job?
A: The ability to implement my own ideas practically on the spot, and the people I work with – they are extremely smart and driven, but at some point in time, you will laugh at every single one of them.
Q: What is the most differentiating quality of Red Ventures?
A: I’d have to point to the accessibility. That doesn’t just mean access to senior leaders, who are usually sitting at another cube around the corner from yours, but also access to all the different people who can help you bring an idea to completion – that means designers, writers, coders, most specifically. The more I’ve been able to see how other companies our size work, the more I’ve realized just how unique it is not to have to pass your work off to 10 other people and never see the end result.
Q: Are there any myths about your role that you would like to debunk?
A: If there is one myth I’d like to debunk it’s that a liberal arts education – or for that matter, a non-quantitative degree – can’t compete in this role with an undergraduate business or another more technical/quantitative degree. Curiosity and a desire to learn will go further here than any combination of degrees.
Q: What advice would you give to people interested in working for Red Ventures, and how should they prepare for the interview?
A: We are as close to an open book as you can get. If you think RV is a place you could see yourself working at, ask questions and find out as much as you can about the specifics of the analyst role and what it takes to succeed in it. For interview prep, Case in Point – although it is geared more toward traditional consulting-style cases – helped me at least gain a general understanding for some of the concepts and approaches to solving business problems that come up in our cases.
If you are interested in learning more about Red Ventures, you are encouraged to attend the Information and Networking Session on Monday, September 22nd at 6:30pm, hear from a panel of speakers, ask as many questions as possible, as find out how Red Ventures disrupts the way business is done.
Please submit any questions that you would like Davidson Alumni to address during the panel to firstname.lastname@example.org
Both internship and entry-level positions are available, check WildcatLink for more information!
Find Ricky and other alumni at Red Ventures on LinkedIn:
Ricky Stephens ’12 Katherine Wood ’13 Sydney Schreiner ’14 Jaime Dybuncio ’13 Benjamin Jackowitz ’12 Tom Polak ’14 Lucy McMurry ’13 Thomas Noel ’11 Robert Lorenzen ’13 Brian Sachtjen ’12 Abby Perkins ’14