A Kildare native, Stephen popped his NY cherry as a student, spending an idyllic, if at times excessive summer in Union Square three years ago. He returned last Fall for a closer look. He works in marketing and investment administration for a private equity/VC group called Gaingels, who invest in companies with at least one LGBT founder or senior leader. Also a writing enthusiast, Stephen pens the occasional column for Inc.com and supports NYDI in the promotion of the group as a believer in its utility to Irish professionals in the city. He is passionate about brunching, the music of U2, spontaneous nights out, and the sultry vocal tones of Amazon’s Alexa.
Stephen, tell us about your role and what you like most about it?
Essentially I have two functions; there’s marketing – very much on the B2B end in our business – which essentially involves creating promo or informational materials as we need them for would-be or current investors. Then there’s the usual stuff – maintaining our online presence and coordinating our regular meetings, be they formal pitches or more informal socials. There’s also more straight up administration work – compiling diligence reports, preparing and filing legal documents, setting up meetings etc. Less exciting perhaps, but then I am one of those strange people who get a kick out of a neat spreadsheet!
You have been in New York for over a year now, what advice would you have for young professionals looking to make a career in NY?
I think it’s important to assess the professional benefit of going to NY in a very clinical way. Forget the bright-lights-big-city romance. Think about what it is you do (or wish to do). Does that industry exist in NY? How competitive is it? How can you gain entry to it? And most importantly, who do you know? Because if the answer is nobody and you’re unwilling to get out there and network aggressively to change that, then don’t go. You can experience fabulous things and pimp out your Instagram in a multitude of cities across the world (and have a far better standard of living!). I only answer that question so bluntly because I believe the organizations overseeing programs for people moving here are biased toward presenting a whitewashed version of NYC life. But it’s not easy. It’s not for everyone. But their view is more ‘we’ll take your money and construct a narrative to convince you this can work regardless’.
What is your ambitions professionally for the next 5 years?
I’m 23 and really just starting out; my job right now – irrespective of where I work – is to learn from people who know better. I have to say my bosses are both excellent mentors. They want me to come away from this role a better, more evolved professional. So short term that’s the goal. In five years I’d like to be a consummate marketer, and hopefully have worked in another country – perhaps the developing world. There’s a lot of interesting things happening there.
“Some people will bitterly reflect that it’s not what you know, but who you know. I think the best advice I’ve been given is to embrace that……”
What was the best piece of career advice that you have received?
Some people will bitterly reflect that it’s not what you know, but who you know. I think the best advice I’ve been given is to embrace that. Really think about how the people you know can help you get to where you want to be. And of course, reciprocate. Help the next person up!
Check out Stephen’s Linked In profile here. Are you a professional working in New York and would like to be featured in our Member Focus Series? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org