John Scott: there's always a cubicle for you at Wellington Financial
An open letter to John Scott, an Edmonton-born Engineer currently residing in St. John’s, NFLD:
What a few weeks you’ve had!
To be honest, I only got to watch a bit of the NHL All-Star festivities (but it is saved on the PVR somewhere, just in case). Between the kids’ swimming lessons, skiing lessons, a Friday evening GTHL game…. Taking in the Raptors’ 11th consecutive win vs. the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. Sunday’s trip to Skyzone and the regular Minor Atom hockey practice…there wasn’t really time for the couch. As a Dad yourself, you know what I’m taking about. But that doesn’t mean we’ve not heard about the excitement in your life. Who could have missed it? And that buzz got me thinking:
Your recent whirlwind has more in common with investing in the tech sector than you might think.
First and foremost, we don’t always chart our own course, much like most careers in professional sports. In the venture debt world, we see hundreds of innovation companies each year from across North America. We do our due diligence and if we see a great fit for our model, invest between $2 million and $40 million in a business with prudent — not high — hopes that management’s business plan will be achievable. Once our money goes in, however, a variety of factors take over that invariably determine whether or not the company achieves great success. Several of these drivers will be obvious to you: customer behaviour, management acumen, competitive reaction, macro factors, economic swings, luck…. One likes to think that you can control the outcome of our business through canny portfolio company selection, but that would be naïve. To succeed in our industry, the best or the bunch are able to navigate the path that life brings. And in that way, you’ve already shown you have this capacity in spades.
As such, on the assumption that you’ve kept up your math and engineering skills since leaving Michigan Tech, perhaps you don’t have to settle for a General Motors cubicle in “sleepy Ontario”, as outlined in your beautifully-written essay in The Players Tribune last week. This may not be your only career option once you decide to hang up your professional hockey skates.
You see John, I think there’s a chance that the venture debt sector is the place for you.
As a foundation, a specialization in math and engineering is a good fit for our business. Technology evaluation and analysis is an underlooked discipline for many business and engineering programs, which is why our firm has begun endowing University scholarships in the hopes that will change over time (see prior post “Western Engineering student receives Wellington Financial’s Award in Technology Evaluation & Analysis” Jan. 15-16).
Our business is spread out across 12 different U.S. States and Canadian Provinces at any given time, so local knowledge is helpful. That you’ve lived and worked across the continent, despite being only 33 years of age, is a plus. Although we have offices in both Santa Monica and on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, California, the majority of our team is based in downtown Toronto. This is what our cubicles (more of a pod, really) look like:
Part of our role is relating to people, and learning to work / collaborate with every possible personality type. If you’ve been playing hockey since you were a kid, I’m pretty sure you’ve come to excel at reading people and situations. There’s some travel in our business, for sure, but you’ve already got a PhD on that front. And I doubt you’ll ever achieve 75k airmiles in any given year. Work / family balance is important at our firm, which will be a Godsend to you and your wife given that you have four little kids at home. Not that the NHL doesn’t value family, but I doubt you ever get the chance to leave work early to attend a swim meet or ballet recital. Who is kidding who? 😉
We have a simple HR strategy: fit-to-role, role-to-fit. Which means that if we find someone who we think would be a good fit for our culture — culture being one of the most important success factors in our minds — we try to find a role for them. Likewise, if we have a specific role that needs filling, we make sure the candidate has the right toolkit to fit the specs. And then check to see how they’ll integrate into our culture.
Your candidacy for one of our humble cubicles is intriguing. Appreciating that so many former NHLers find great financial success with car dealerships or money management, I recognize that this idea is a bit our a curveball. However, as you said yourself, the last few weeks weren’t expected, either.
This isn’t a promise of a carer, but most definitely an invite to a “tryout” whenever that day comes. You’ve shown the world that you’ve got skills, intestinal fortitude and a collegial and self-deprecating nature. How could you not succeed in business?!
Until then, bon chance.