BTU #27: Katie Horgan – Marines to Operations at Early-Stage Startups

“I think that startups – both sides, employers and vets – are a perfect match. If you think about what they ask you to do when you’re a Junior Officer: I was a Truck Platoon Commander and they literally dropped me in Iraq and said ‘Go run convoys.’ I thought –  ‘Well… I gotta figure this out.’ Anyone who can do that, who has had those junior positions – either on the officer or enlisted side – can absolutely do what it takes to get something done. They can quickly analyze the solution, make the best decision possible with 80% of the information (or maybe even less than that). That’s why I think it’s an incredible fit.”
 – Katie Horgan

Katie Horgan is a the Senior Director of Operations at Crave Crush – a very interesting New York based Health & Wellness startup. She started out at the University of Southern California, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. After that she served for over six years in the Marine Corps, serving as a Platoon Commander, Company Commander, and Operations Officer, spending time as a convoy commander in Iraq and serving as part of a crisis response force in the pacific theater.  When she transitioned from the military she went to Columbia Business School where she earned her MBA.  From Business school she went to the NY-based startup, Plated, first as their Director of Operations & Logistics, and then as their Senior Director of Operations & Logistics.

In this conversation, we cover a lot of topics, including:

  • Barriers that veterans encounter when they apply to their first, second, and third job…and how to overcome them
  • What it’s like to join a startup going through a period of EXPLOSIVE growth
  • The day-to-day life of a Director of Operations
  • Indications that you may love life at a startup… and signs that you may hate it
  • How Katie’s salary at a startup compared to her salary in the military
  • How Katie thinks about a career in Operations and her career progression
  • And much, much more…

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QUESTION OF THE DAY: How can I make these episodes more valuable to active duty military personnel considering transitioning to the civilian world? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • 1:48 – Katie’s background
  • 2:58 – How Katie approached her decision to leave the Marine Corps
  • 3:38 – How Katie thought about the Reserves and decided not to participate
  • 5:30 – The most surprising aspect of Katie’s transition from the military
  • 8:24 – Making the decision to go to school rather than work with recruiters
  • 10:30 – Advice for those considering applying to Columbia Business School (and Business School in general)
  • 12:03 – What Katie liked most and least about her time at Columbia Business School
  • 14:55 – How Katie went about finding her first job after Business School
  • 16:40 – Barriers that veterans encounter when they apply to their first, second, and third job…and how to overcome them
  • 23:20 – Katie does a great job explaining how her background is relevant to a Project Management job
  • 25:00 – What it’s like to join a startup going through a period of EXPLOSIVE growth
  • 28:28 – The day-to-day life of a Director of Operations
  • 32:00 – In Katie’s first years out of the military how she felt ahead and behind her civilian counterparts
  • 34:15 – Indications that you may love life at a startup… and signs that you may hate it
  • 38:40 – How Katie’s salary at a startup compared to her salary in the military
  • 42:30 – An overview on Katie’s current company, Crave Crush
  • 46:09 – How Katie thinks about a career in Operations and her career progression
  • 49:50 – Final words of wisdom