Check out the full transcript from the first episode of the TechGuide Podcast, featuring an interview with Joy Mbanugo.
Joy Mbanugo is a San Francisco-based finance professional with over 20 years of audit, tax, business operations, financial services, treasury, and financial planning/analysis experience.
She has worked on the Cloud Partner Finance team which is responsible for evaluating Google Cloud Partnerships and Solutions. She has also worked on the Finance Transformation, Systems, and Integration team at Google, which was responsible for organizing Alphabet’s financial data.
Mbanugo also worked on the largest Enterprise Resource Planning transformation in the US. Before this role, she led the Treasury Tax initiative at Google to streamline cash management of $100B+. Before joining Google she worked at BlackRock where she led the taxation of financial instruments, securities lending ($3 trillion assets under management), information reporting and withholding, and more.
From 2003 – 2014, she worked at EY in various offices providing tax and audit services to clients in international tax, financial services, and capital markets. Mbanugo double-majored in African-American History and Accountancy at Miami University – Ohio, earned a Master’s of Accountancy at Case Western Reserve University, and a Juris Doctorate from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law as a John C. Louis Stokes Scholar.
Check out her website or find her on LinkedIn.
Here’s a quick summary of key takeaways from the interview:
- Career Journey: Joy Mbanugo started her career at EY, where she worked in four different offices: Cleveland, DC, London, and San Francisco. She then moved to BlackRock, where she oversaw a securities lending program valued at $3 trillion. In 2018, she joined Google, where she worked on a project that she had previously worked on at EY.
- Value of Internships: Mbanugo emphasized the importance of internships in shaping her career. She interned at Anderson for three summers during her undergraduate years, which she believes set the foundation for her career.
- Working Abroad: Mbanugo strongly recommended working overseas if possible. She believes it provides a new perspective, helps build a network, and allows one to understand different business cultures.
- Transition to Tech: Mbanugo transitioned from finance and consulting to tech when she joined Google in 2018. She saw this as an opportunity to apply her skills in a new context and to learn about the tech industry.
- Key Skills: Mbanugo highlighted the importance of soft skills such as project management, understanding how businesses make money, building relationships, and networking. She also emphasized the importance of being intellectually curious, respectful, and always striving for more.
- Advice for Aspiring Professionals: Mbanugo advised aspiring professionals to be intellectually curious and to research thoroughly about their area of interest or target companies. She also emphasized the importance of quantifying one’s impact in a role, especially for those in finance.
Here’s a full transcript of the show
Ryan Atkinson: I’m super excited for today’s episode as we’re welcoming Joy Mbanugo to the podcast today to talk about her life, her career.
Joy, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank
Joy Mbanugo: you. Thank you, thank you. I’m happy to be here. Can’t, can’t wait. To give unsolicited advice.
Ryan Atkinson: Before we do that, you’ve had a super successful career but you also have a great life outside of work, which is super important Of course.
Can you share with us like two of your favorite things you like to do after work to just decompress de-stress and really get your mind off of
Joy Mbanugo: work? Yeah, I was just talking to, I was just interviewing for a job and I was talking to a really, really smart person and they asked, well, would you be interested in this type of company?
And I was like, yes, because I’m a huge Star Trek fan. Like I love Star Trek Next Generation. Like I have a big crush. Captain Picard. Don’t tell my husband. But I [00:01:00] make my son who is 16 months old, yeah, 16 months old. Hold. I make him watch that with me. And it’s so bad that he’s been watching it with me since, you know, he was, you know, since he was born.
And it’s so bad that now when he hears the music come on, he’s like, he’s like rocking back and forth. So that’s my, that’s number one. And then number two my husband and I are big wine drinkers. Not that I’m a wine — not too old to be a boozy hag because it makes me too tired. But I love Pinot.
I love Cabernet. I love Rose, but Rose is like more of my weekend drink. But a good glass of Pinot before bed is like, whew, night night.
Ryan Atkinson: I love that. That is a great way to decompress. And I feel like as I get older as well, um, I’m finding myself to really like wine. You said not like wine at all, but now I’m trying to really warm up red wine
Yeah. Yeah. . And so let’s dive in. You’re a, a finance professional with over 20 years of audit, tax, [00:02:00] business operations, financial planning, everything under the sun. But let’s start early on in your career. Yeah. With your first job as a consultant with ey. Yeah. Take us to that time. You were in London, which is really cool, um, as well, but did you always aspire to be a consultant or why was that your career choice to start out?
Joy Mbanugo: Well, let’s go back to when I was in my twenties. I just want people to know I started my career when I was 10. So yeah , I’m just kidding. But let’s go before that. So I was at EY, I worked in four different offices. So it wasn’t just London, it was Cleveland, Cleveland, DC, London, San Francisco. So I moved around quite a bit with EY, but prior to — while I was an undergrad, I interned at Anderson, which a lot of people, you know, may not even know who Anderson is, but Anderson before it was the big four was the big five, and then prior to that was like the big eight. So I interned at Anderson and I always knew that I wanted to be in [00:03:00] finance or law or something like that.
I was inspired by the Consigliere and the Godfather. My mom’s gonna kill me. She was like, please don’t ever watch that movie. And what did I do as a young person? I watched it and I watched it all over and over. I could still watch it and it’s still so good. So anyway, the Consigliere and the Godfather inspired me to become a lawyer and to think about business, but in a not in a violent way.
So I’m just thinking strategically. I was like, oh man, the way he thinks is super neat. So, I got exposed to public accounting by, uh, interning at Anderson and that’s cool. While I was there and over time I realized, or some people talked to me and they were like, Hey, if you wanna go, if you wanna go into audit, you need to get an advanced degree in accounting, which I did.
And if you wanna go into tax, you need to get either an LLM in taxation or you need to get a law degree, which I also did. So it was really — I literally ended up being lucky and having an internship when I was 18, and I interned at Anderson for three summers. Yeah, I interned after my freshman, sophomore and junior year.
My senior year I went and worked for Honey Baked Ham in their finance department, closely with the CFO in Cincinnati, Ohio, which is where I’m from. And so those experiences, like looking back on it, I don’t, I don’t, didn’t even realize at the time how important doing that was and how — but yeah, interning there set the foundation for my career.
So if I could leave anyone with like, you know, one of many nuggets that may come from this, hopefully, one would be to do an internship (check out our tech internship guide). If you’re in the position and you’re like in an MBA or yeah, still an undergrad or wherever you are in your career, you know, your professional journey and you still have time to make a decision, definitely do an internship.
So that was the foundation that springboarded me into EY because I was in [00:05:00] Cleveland working on my master’s in accounting. and I needed a job and my dad was like, well, “you have an accounting degree, go use it.” And so I emailed the alumni office. I was like, I need a job. My dad’s not gonna support me anymore and I gotta pay my rent.
And so I ended up interviewing at EY and I got a job at EY in Cleveland, and it was one of the best experiences in one of the best. I mean, I still, there’s so many good people at EY. I have so, so many good things to say about it because it, like looking back on my career, it set the foundation for so many opportunities that I’m getting now and so many opportunities I got after I left EY.
Ryan Atkinson: Interesting. What was like the foundation that had helped you build, it sounds like you had a great experience like Anderson. Yes. And that really got you started. But what did EY, I mean, this is a huge company that’s a big three now. I mean, what was the foundation?
Joy Mbanugo: Well, let’s start with some soft skills.
Because I think everybody thinks about their career and you go — especially me, like I can dive into the hyper-technical and I will. Yeah. Because I think that’s important. But soft skills, just one project management. Nice. You know when you are a staff audit or you’re a senior in an audit…no one tells you that you need to learn project management, but you do. You end up learning, and even if you’re on a tax team or you’re on the consulting side, you learn how to run a project. Yeah. How many hours does everyone need to work? Where does everyone need to be around the world? Interesting.
What’s the budget? How are we gonna make money? So you learn about, you learn about project management, you learn. services business, make money. And you also learn like client, client relationship and just building relationships and networking skills. I didn’t even think when I was, you know, probably the first five years in my career, I didn’t look at my clients as people that I could probably connect with.
It didn’t really dawn on me to do that until I moved to DC. The partners were kind of explaining it to me. I mean, the partners in Cleveland did, but I was so junior at the time that they were doing most of the networking and that’s how they won the work. So I would say the soft skills: project management, how to run a business, and how to think about any type of business.
And three, networking. Those are. . Three of the things I learned throughout my 11 years at EY, which I still use to this day. And then on the technical side, so much like foundational tax, audit, accounting, treasury. I mean, there’s stuff like when I joined Google, and Google is a great company, but when I joined Google, they hired me to do work that I did at EY like a decade ago.
Yeah. And so my first year, my first year, year and a half at Google, I, it wasn’t easy, but I knew precisely what to do because I’d already had already done it for a very long time. So EY provided a great foundation and I think it, when people are confused about where to start their career, places like accounting firms, consulting firms or companies like IBM and GE that give you the opportunity to rotate, or any company that gives you the opportunity to do a rotational program is, is a great place to start. And tech companies, I have, I have two different views, but you know, for me, that’s where I started because I was in Ohio and you know, didn’t have exposure to Silicon Valley at that point.
Ryan Atkinson: yeah. What was the exposure to overseas, would you recommend someone in their career? Um, it’s a big move to move overseas. Oh my God. I cannot imagine doing that. But it, you’re shaking your head. So you would recommend Yes, a thousand percent go overseas. And why,
Joy Mbanugo: why a hundred million thousand percent? Especially if you don’t have, you know, if you don’t have any financial obligations to like family.
If you don’t have kids, if you don’t, and if you have a spouse who can move with you, cuz some companies will help your spouse move with you. I mean, it’s such fun from a personal standpoint. It was just fun. Okay. I lived in London for three years. got paid really well. I traveled all over Europe.
I went to Hong Kong with friends. I had the opportunity to go to India. I didn’t go. That’s, I have like two regrets in life. That’s one of two. But it was just so amazing. So, from a personal standpoint. Yeah. So it’s funny when I see people, you know, Instagram is now a thing and it was just becoming popular like when I left London.
But I see people post pictures of London and like Positano, super popular, know all the influencers are going to all these popular places. Like I went there, I like, yeah, I went there, I went dogs sledding in Norway, I. You know, I went to the uh, Great White Turf, which is like a horse race in St. Moritz. Like sweet, you know, all of the things that are cool and trendy on TikTok and Instagram.
I always chuckle, and I’m not saying that as a brag, but it was just like fun. So number one, it was fun. And then two, from a professional standpoint. It just helped me build a network and it helped me build a network and helped me to think about different businesses differently. I think when you grow up in the US we have a very US-centric view of the world and everything revolves around the US and even worse, it revolves around your geographic location.
Yeah. So you can get very tied up if you live in New York City with everything. And, New Yorkers love ’em, but they think New York is the center of the world. So do Londoners. So do people in, you know, so do people in Beijing or Shanghai. Yeah. Like you could get very caught up where I am — I live in the Bay Area, so Silicon Valley people here.
Yeah. This is the center of the universe. All the startups come here. Like everyone thinks that their area is important and I think it helps to think about a worldview, and then if you go into international business or a business that has international functions, you know that a decision you make in the, A decision you make in the US may not be the same decision you can make in Europe or Africa or different parts of Asia.
You just think like, okay, I need to be aware of other cultures and how they, how they even function. There’s a different approach to doing business in Malaysia than there is in the US. You can’t do business the same way, that you know here and even in other countries. Like some countries, you just have to start with the.
Relationship, whereas in the US you can just get on the phone, things can be, things are very transactional.
Ryan Atkinson: I’ve been fortunate enough to go overseas a few times and I always come back with a new perspective of the world — people think in such a different way.
And I think that is the value of one traveling overseas, but doing business overseas would be awesome. I wanna shift to BlackRock. So you moved to BlackRock 2014 and oversaw a securities lending program valued at $3 trillion plus. Why BlackRock at that time? And can you give us that one take away from your time at BlackRock?
Joy Mbanugo: Now, can I tell you something funny first? I didn’t even know it was that much, um, I didn’t, I didn’t even realize, so this is bad, and I hate to admit it, but I need to give one of my friends a shout out. Like I had two really good friends, Sheena and Eunice at BlackRock. One of them said to me,“oh, you know, you know the securities lending business in the US is X, Y, Z, and they were like, here’s the pie.”
And like the overall business you know, it was like 4 trillion in the US or maybe it was like 3.5 trillion at the time, and the US is 3 trillion. I remember looking at the pie, I was like, oh, I’m responsible for that. Because in my mind it was just securities and Yep. I was thinking more about the funds and the rules.
You know, once I started to quantify it, like which is another life lesson, quantify what you do, especially if you’re in finance, quantify your impact savings, increase how you’re helping a business increase income like. Just find a way to quantify your impact in your role, no matter how junior you are.
Do not make the mistake that I made. Thank goodness. I have friends who are smart enough to be like, “Hello, wake up. You kind of have a big role.” So I ended up at BlackRock. They recruited me to work on a regulatory package that I worked at EY in London. I was hired to do the same thing there and implemented FCA, but then also as part of my role worked on, um, securities lending, which was great because I always have loved finance from a personal finance standpoint.
So working there opened my eyes even more to the importance. Saving saving for retirement, asset management, different asset classes, and, and, and even now looking back, like thinking about it wasn’t called like AI and finance, but BlackRock has like their own proprietary system that they use for asset allocation.
But thinking about harnessing technology in the finance, like in the finance sense, in the asset management sense. Yeah. Again, another invaluable experience, um, that I can’t, you know, very, very glad that I had the opportunity to work there.
Ryan Atkinson: Yeah. That’s awesome. So you, you had these great experiences at BlackRock.
Yeah. And these basically parlay into breaking into Google in 2018 , which I think is really cool cuz like EY and BlackRock, these are huge companies, but they’re not necessarily like tech. Yeah, not at all. So I’m, so I’m curious, like how did you make that shift into tech from these huge finance companies, consulting companies to tech?
Joy Mbanugo: Yeah. So I was recruited to work at ey sorry, at so EY BlackRock, Google. Yeah. Work at Google to work on a project that, like I mentioned, that’s something I did at EY for a long time. . And so like when Google calls you just don’t no. Right? Like, and this was five years ago, so very different. You know, Google’s going through its own issues right now, so I know people watching this will be like, well I just Googled Google and it didn’t look that great.
Well, it is a great company and I think, you know, everyone’s going through turmoil with layoffs. Mm-hmm. , and I’m happy to talk about that as well. And how to survive. How to survive the layoff. When Google calls you just, you, you just say yes, right? It’s almost like, you know, if a big tech company calls you, at a minimum say yes and take the opportunity to interview.
I think for me, Google again, another one of those pivotal moments in my career and I’m seeing the benefits of working there now because I’m interviewing for other jobs.
Just the experiences ahead and the opportunity to move around. So [00:16:00] what you’ll see throughout my career is Yeah. Yeah. Even though I was at, I’ve only been at three companies and I know, you know, all of the career professionals will tell you to jump, you know, change jobs every two years. And, and maybe that’s true.
I don’t know. Yeah. But I changed roles probably every two to three years. So if you look at. , while I was in Cleveland, I, you know, I moved roles even while I was in Cleveland at ey. Yep. E I left Cleveland. I went to DC for three years. I went to London for another three years, and then BlackRock, three years.
And at the end of my time at BlackRock, I knew I wanted to get out of tax and was pivoting. So as I was moving to Google, I knew I. in my mind, I didn’t tell them. And you know, no, no offense to the people who recruited me and they know I, I love them. And, you know, some of the people I worked with are like amazing, amazing people.
Yeah. But I knew going in Hey, I can do this job. I just need to get my foot in the door. I’m gonna go do this, and then I’m gonna [00:17:00] try to go somewhere else because I know I don’t want to stay in tax and treasury forever. Yeah. Because I, my whole background is tax, treasury and audit, and I need to figure.
What to do next. So I hadn’t really formed. , the idea of becoming a cfo when I joined Google, it developed over time as I was at Google. Yeah, and, and Google helped me being there, and some of the people I worked with and some of the mentors and some of the CFOs I worked with while I was there, they helped form the opinion.
Which again, set up a good foundation because some of the roles I’m interviewing for now are cfo, F O roles. That’s
Ryan Atkinson: really interesting. So it sounds like you’ve been surrounded by some, like really, obviously you’ve been surrounded by some like incredibly high performers and at Google, like they’re everywhere.
I don’t know if you guys call each other Googlers, maybe you do. Yeah. But what do
Joy Mbanugo: you think, I mean,
Ryan Atkinson: Yeah. When you think of the people at Google, I mean, what are the top three characteristics if you could aggregate like the people at Google? I mean, what I like really stands out because everyone talks about Google.
Google. Google. It’s awesome. [00:18:00] It’s awesome. It’s awesome. But like what really makes it special with the
Joy Mbanugo: people? I think with the people, you have so many people who are. , intellectually curious. So there are people, you know how people are like, I’m dedicated to lifelong learning. Yeah. And some people say that, and it’s like really popular to say, but at Google I feel like I worked with people who were really dedicated to lifelong learning.
I mean, that’s great, right? Like they’re people working on quantum computing and like rocket scis, like literally rocket scientists there. So I always felt like, wow, it’s really cool to be here. So that’s one. I think this is a term that I didn’t come up with. I think someone in finance at Google came up with a term, so if they hear this, I’m giving ’em credit.
It’s not my term. I think a lot of Googlers are insecure overachievers, and I mean that in the nicest way possible and Okay. In the, in the sense that, because I think I’m that way in the sense that they’re always striving, maybe the nicer way to say this, that [00:19:00] they’re always striving to do something greater and grander.
Yes. Like, okay, we, you. . If you look at the other bets, like we, the other, you know, the companies outside of Google, under the alphabet umbrella, you had like robotics companies and drone companies. Yeah. And, you know, AI companies and all this other stuff. So I think that that is just an ongoing theme.
Now, some of that has gone away and, you know, because of the economy, et cetera, but that, I think, That trait is always there, and that all encompasses what people would call Googs. , which, yeah, which you know, is a trait that you are measured on when you’re interviewing and people are like, what is Googs? And it’s like one being respectful, two being intellectually curious, and three, just like striving.
That’s the way I define it. Some people may define it another way, but all of those traits, I feel like a lot, a lot, a lot of the people I worked with. Had those traits and [00:20:00] some, not all, I’m gonna be honest here. Some of the people there were just like really awesome, amazing, good people, like really, really nice good people that you wouldn’t think as smart and as, and as accomplished as they were.
They would be as nice as they were, and there were some, there were just some really amazing and awesome people. .
Ryan Atkinson: That’s amazing. And so when you think about those traits, if there’s one that you think someone who is outside of tech or is in their early careers, one that they should really focus on being like basically always striving for more respectfulness.
Intellectually curious, I mean, is there one that really stands out people should focus on?
Joy Mbanugo: Yeah, intellectual curiosity. I mean, I think like being respectful, hopefully that’s just like in the core of who you are as a person. Not everybody, but hopefully it is. But I think if you’re intellectually curious for any tech company, I think that’s what a lot of the tech companies are looking for, people.[00:21:00]
Want to know more. I mean, let’s say you wanna join a company and they are like a food-based company. Yeah. Or they do some new tech, or they do AI and like AI is a new thing. You know, it’s a new hot, shiny thing. Well, yeah, get curious, have you even opened up an AI tool? Have you used Jasper ChatGPT?
And the other thing is intellectual curiosity. And I’ve written about. Do some research, like dive into what you want to learn about or dive into, like the company, what the company does. If you have a target company, dive into it. Find all of the articles written about it. I mean, that’s the lawyer in me and my, and my mom is like a research nerd.
I have to give a shout to my mom. She’s a total nerd. . She, she’s always ta I’m. She, she, she is always sending me articles about stuff, but I think that intellectual curiosity is important and even more so now because I think people are gonna be [00:22:00] relying on AI tools and, yeah, you know what, what blows my mind now is that people are going to TikTok for search, like, You know, that’s crazy.
I, that is crazy to me. So I know different demographics use different tools and social media in different ways, but for me, I always assumed you know, you use a search engine for a search and I never thought of TikTok as a search engine, but it is. Yeah. So do you know, even go on TikTok and search, but.
You know, back in the day if you had to write a paper, you would go to like encyclopedias, you would go to the library Yeah. And get a physical book, and you’d have to cite your sources and all that. And so do that, but via computer and just learn as much as you can about an area. I feel I, I can’t say enough about intellectual curiosity.
Ryan Atkinson: That’s interesting. Is there an area where you think people should be focusing on that are young in their career? Obviously AI is the huge one right now. But are there areas that you think people should really focus on to like [00:23:00] learn the skills and I mean, everyone is curious in their own ways, but should people focus on being curious in this area a little bit
Joy Mbanugo: more?
I think AI is the obvious one. I’m gonna say finance because you can never know. You can never know too much about finance. in every aspect of finance. Crypto. Not saying, you know, people know, I love to talk about crypto. Crypto. You don’t have to invest. You don’t have to go out and buy. I’m not telling anybody, go buy Bitcoin, Sheba, Dogecoin, whatever, the new meme coin.
I’m not saying that. Just know about it. Know about blockchain technology. And just finance in general. I feel like, yeah, we just aren’t taught about personal finance and facts. Planning for retirement, 401k, Roth IRA backdoor Roth. Every bit of personal finance, life insurance checking account, like dig into it.
Yahoo Finance is a great resource for that. And bank rate, do bankrate.com. The other thing that I think about a lot only because I have a lot of older people in my family is aging. Yeah. Yeah. So my grandmother, I have a grandmother who, you know, Hopefully, luckily we’ll turn a hundred this year, and then another one who is not too far behind her.
She would kill me if I told her real age, but she’s up in age. And so I think about aging a lot because a lot of people in my family live for a very long time. And I know there’s that guy who’s like hacking his health and he’s like 10 on the inside, but he is really 40 and all that. And you know what’s interesting and there’s this whole thing about farm to table and following the octogenarians diet and all that.
But what a lot of people don’t know is that people in the south were born in the early 1900. Follow that diet because they had to. Right. So I always laugh when I see farm to table restaurants. Like my grandma’s been farm to table, she’s from South Carolina, she grew up on a farm, you know, eating chickens off the field and food out of the field and right out of the dirt.
So like when I see that now I’m just like, my family’s been doing that. Yeah. And so I think that will be a super interesting area because aging, it will just create like, just different businesses that I, I think people aren’t thinking about. Yeah, we’re starting to see it now with food, but I think it will turn into biohacking or something else.
Ryan Atkinson: Yeah, I do agree. And I think my generation there’s a ton of studies that like we’re drinking less and I think yes, just as a whole, like gen Zers, they’re wanting to drink less, they’re wanting to be healthy. And Brian Johnson, yes, he’s the one that’s an epigenetic age thing. It’s incredible. And starting out with Gen Zers they are just getting into their career.
Let’s just say we’re fresh outta school. We’re 22, 23. Bright eyes and smiles all over our faces. I mean, what advice would you give to someone our age?
Joy Mbanugo: Take a risk. Do something that your friends aren’t doing. [00:26:00] If they’re doing this, if all of your friends are doing the same thing, do something that they’re not doing.
Yep. If you live in Ohio — I pick on Ohio because I’m from there — people like to stay there. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I challenge you to move somewhere. Pick up and move. You can always move back to wherever you’re from. I feel like it is, you know, me moving around is one of the best things that has happened to me from London to California.
I never expected to be here. Actually, when I moved to London, I planned on moving back to New York — and that’s a story for another podcast — but I ended up in California, which is one of the best things that happened to me. So I would say if there’s a city that you dreamed of, like you see on TV oh, I wanna move to Austin.
Go pick up and go, go pick, go waitress. Go do any job, get 5, 10, 20 roommates. Like I remember there was somebody who lived in a mansion and there were like 10 of ’em and it was, it was really cool. They had a house. It was almost like women in a dorm or whatever, A fraternity house or sorority house.
But anyway, move. I would say try, just try it. Especially if you’re 21, 22. I’m not in my twenties. If someone asks me to move right now with the baby and house and husband, it’s just like the, even the thought, I’m just like, oh, I have so much stuff. But if you are 22 and just graduating college, you have, you know, you may have like a suitcase worth of clothes.
Maybe you have furniture, maybe you don’t sell your furniture, you know, your college furniture and, and move, move, move out of the country if you can visa issues. But yeah, or do something adventurous. Do something that you didn’t, that you don’t think you can do and take that risk and, and don’t worry about what your friends are doing.
Your friends will be there and if they’re not getting.
Ryan Atkinson: Yeah, I grew up in Iowa, so pretty similar to Ohio. Yeah. I got out of Iowa, went to Boston, and then got in Austin now, and it was the best decision Yeah. I’ve ever made. So I’m echoing that advice right
Joy Mbanugo: there. And you’re, you’re in the, you’re in the like hotspot, like Austin’s like the, you know, it’s the it thing, right?
Ryan Atkinson: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. It’s been pretty — I’ll advocate for it till I die. But I’m also thinking like longterm for my own career. I feel like I am very happy with my career where it is, but I’m gonna try and scale this thing and really grow my career. So like what you’re doing, like you have a phenomenal career.
What obstacles do you think I will overcome that I might not be thinking about right now? But I should consider longer down the road?
Joy Mbanugo: Rejection. Mm. rejection is really hard. Being laid off. I just got laid off from Google, and for some people that’s devastating. But for me, having had to hunt for a job or, or, or being well connected was not as devastating for me.
And also being in finance and reading the tea leaves, like I did — have to plug all of my work — but I did a podcast with. Entrepreneur magazine last year in April, and I was like, there is a recession coming? What was happening last year is. All of the VC funding was starting to slow down, but nobody was really paying attention.
All of the VCs and the fancy finance people, they were paying attention. And somehow I stumbled upon this information. I was like, oh, something bad is coming. And so I knew last year I didn’t know that it would be to this scale. Yeah. And we’d have all these massive layoffs, but I would say be, you may not even be thinking, you know, as you go along your career, you think your career is linear.
You’ll run into pitfalls and, and it’s okay. Like I think people run into obstacles and they get really bummed out and it could throw them off track. Yeah. But what I would, my advice to anyone is, you know, if you’re going along in your career and let’s say 10 years from now, you get laid off or you don’t get a promotion?
I can, I can have a whole series on not getting a promotion like I’ve been overlooked for promotions so many times. Guess what? Somebody will give you the promotion you want. You may not get it where you think you should get it, but you may get something that’s even better. And so, I know that sounds very like manifesting. In the 20 years that I’ve been working, I’ve seen it happen. I’m seeing it happen now. You will bounce back and I think what’s really important is how you respond to a pitfall, right? Yeah. Don’t let yourself go down a spiral. Don’t, don’t go down the, the, the black hole of despair, which, you know, is easy, easy to say, easier said than done.
I’m not a mental health expert, but don’t go, yeah, don’t go down the hole of despair.
Ryan Atkinson: I love that. And you talked about it a little bit, I mean, like you were unfortunately impacted by the layoffs at Google, but I mean, how, how are you bouncing back from that? Or like what are you looking for now that you are free?
Or I shouldn’t say free…. now that you’re free, now that you get now, now that you are able to look for new opportunities. Take us through that time. Like what are you doing for your own job search?
Joy Mbanugo: Yeah. So what’s been super about my job searches that I’ve had is that I have such a great community.
Yeah. And it, and it’s from networking and I was super intentional. Um, and this is where you and I met about a year ago or more than a year ago, while before, while I was, I was on maternity leave, my time, my timeframe’s getting all mixed up. I was on maternity leave Yes. At the beginning of 2022. And while I was on maternity leave, I was like, I wanna be a CFO.
I’m not gonna be a CFO at Google. And so I need to start to think about my brand [00:32:00] and I need to change my brand to be about Joy. The finance phenom Joy, the finance expert, Joy, the crypto gal, like whatever. Yeah. Version of me. You wanna call me versus Joy who works at Google. And so I started a rebrand and started being very intentional about networking, and I also wanted to land a board seat.
And so that has helped me because as soon as I announced that I was laid off, I had like one person email me and say, I have a job for you, like right now. Like, come to my office. And I can talk about that, but there are so many great opportunities. I haven’t really had to, you know, actively apply for a job per se.
And I think at my level, what’s important for people to know is like my network is everything. Like my next role is not gonna come from me going on a website and clicking a link and applying that way. You can come back to me in about, you can come back to me in April, April or May and confirm, but I’m pretty certain that my next role will come from either someone I currently know or some like a reference through someone I know. Um, yeah. So I’ve been, you know, people have been reaching out to me and, you know, there’s a ex, a Googler network, that’s what you call ex Googlers.
And there’s like one guy on, on LinkedIn. I, he’s like, amazing, James Wong, I can’t remember his name. Anyway, he’s like, created a whole community, like going around the world and I’m sure we’ll see like a whole bunch of startups pop out of that community. Oh God. Yeah. Yeah. But, but my network has been amazing. And even my husband was like, Hey, do you wanna talk to my CEO?
And I was like, sure. Why not? He’s like, he’s well connected. He can find you a job. I’m like, sure. So, yeah, my community has been, I have one offer in [00:34:00] hand and just, you know, maybe potentially hopefully start an interview process with another company. So we shall see.
Ryan Atkinson: That’s amazing. And so would, would that be advice that you would give to someone my age as well, is build that personal brand because there’s something does happen
Joy Mbanugo: Two things. Build a personal brand independent of your company. You know, because especially in tech, people get really, really attached to their companies and it’s easy. You know, my friends who worked at Uber and, you know, were laid off at one point and thankfully their whole identity wasn’t caught up in that.
But like, you can, like I’m an employee number this, and like, you’ll hear people talking in those terms, especially if they’re an early employee. Like, I was number 50 at this company and I was number duh duh. I think I was like, number a hundred. , 30,000, 131,000, da da da da. Like that was me. So I , I’m not that person, but two things.
Yes, absolutely. Develop your brand, develop your brand on LinkedIn. You know, I’m old school, Ryan, you and I talk about this all the time about TikTok. Yep, yep, yep. . You know how like TikTok is addictive, first of all? Yeah. I’m just wondering. I’m like, I need to put my phone down. I don’t even know how they know.
I like these things. Like, this is crazy, but establishing your brand at a minimum on LinkedIn is important. And the other thing I did is created a website because I felt like, , like LinkedIn is good, but I wanted to also own my own IP. Like I want to own who I am. Like I didn’t want any company. I won’t name them, but I didn’t want any company or any social media platform owning my brand. Like I own my own brand. I sometimes write my own articles. I have had articles written in magazines and all this stuff? And yes, and that’s great and I love it. But I also write on medium. Because I want to own my own ideas, my own brand and all that. And that’s so important.
But then in [00:36:00] addition to that, using a platform like LinkedIn as you’re establishing your brand to network, like I can’t say enough about networking.
Ryan Atkinson: I love it. And last question for you. This has been phenomenal, but you wanna look back, let’s just fast forward the clock however many years and you look back on your career, I mean, what do you wanna be most proud of when it’s all said and done?
Joy Mbanugo: I wanna be most proud of helping other people rise throughout their careers. Every team I’ve worked on, I tell people who I lead. I’m like, “Hey, in a couple of years you should be doing my job if you want it.”
Like, that’s awesome. I’m not offended if you, if you’re coming for me, you’re nipping on my heels. You should be. I want you to be, I wanna work with people who are intellectually curious, who are always striving. You should take my role. And so I wanna look back and, you know, when I become a CFO, I wanna look back and think, okay, I helped other people become C-level executives.
Like it’s not just about me and, oh, I’m so great and da da da. Like I really do. I feel like I’ve had so much help. And so I’ve just been so lucky, so fortunate. I wanna make sure I continue to help people strive in their careers.
Ryan Atkinson: Perfect. And I think this was step one in doing that, because Joy, you have been great. You have gave a ton of great advice for us, so thank you so much for joining us.
This is an awesome episode. You’re welcome. And I’m so welcome. Glad we can get you on.
Joy Mbanugo: Thank you. Thank you. Ha. Happy to do it. Like I said, I love to give unsolicited advice, so I’m happy to chat anytime.