Rebecca Oman: Finding the Perfect Fit in Silicon Valley
Rebecca Oman is the Director of Special Projects at thredUP, an online consignment retailer founded in 2009. In her role, she reports to the CEO and leads the New Ventures team, incubating and launching growth vectors for the business. Before thredUp, Rebecca graduated with a degree in Management Science from MIT and was an Engagement Manager in the Financial Services practice at Oliver Wyman. We caught up with Rebecca to hear what she's been working on since leaving OW.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path since you left Oliver Wyman?
Since leaving OW, I ventured into the startup world in true San Francisco fashion. I headed over to Hampton Creek, a food-tech startup that makes more affordable sustainable food for the world. The people I worked with were experts in their space - from Michelin-starred chefs, to former Apple execs, to biology PhDs. I witnessed the operations more closely than ever before and came to realize what I value in any company I work for.
Following Hampton Creek, I moved to thredUP, a startup that buys and sells secondhand clothes on our site. The executive team is filled with smart, humble people who are experts in their field and are truly inspired by thredUP's not-so-sexy day-to-day. I currently lead our New Ventures team and we're focused on launching, iterating, and growing various business ideas, all with significant customer interaction and focus. I love the variety of the work I do, from talking to customers, to running the numbers, to being in the hustle of the distribution center.
Have there been challenges in your career that surprised you? How have you met those challenges?
The hardest part about leaving consulting was trying to figure out what skills I had to contribute outside of the financial services industry. I wanted to go into tech, but larger companies oftentimes want people with deep expertise in their specific space or function. I soon realized that small-to-medium startups were my sweet spot. I was valued as an all-purpose player and wasn't pigeon-holed into a very specific role. In that process, I realized that the skills I have to offer are wide-ranging - from running the margins on a new business, to talking to customers, to managing cross-functional groups to hit our goals.
What advice do you have for current consultants and staff?I would say to cherish the culture and the fact that you're surrounded by a bunch of quirky, smart, and fun co-workers - and keep in touch with them! Take advantage of the flexibility of Oliver Wyman by taking a leave of absence or doing a Nonprofit Fellowship. Be honest with your mentors, partners, and staffers. Talk to them about what you want to achieve in the future.
While at Oliver Wyman, did you do a Nonprofit Fellowship? How did that experience impact your current career path?
I did a six-month Nonprofit Fellowship for the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Uganda. While there, I helped launch initiatives aspiring to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Upon completing my fellowship, I had more questions and fewer answers about how to best implement change. I learned to accept that sometimes we need to take two steps forward and three steps back in order to get to the finish line. In addition, it became obvious to me that the locals themselves have tons of ideas on how to best develop their country - they just don't have the resources to do so.