In the past few years, the term “disruptive technology” has become something used to signify a change in how things have been done. It symbolizes a new state of mind, a vision of millennials forging into the future, into uncharted territories, while exploring outside of the confines of past practices and into an area of innovation and creativity.

Menotti Minutillo

Menotti Minutillo

iSchool students were recently lucky to hear from alumnus Menotti Minutillo who has been doing just that. He has held impressive roles in the ever-changing world of technology, most recently at two companies who have drastically altered the industry.

Menotti graduated from the iSchool at Syracuse in 2007, and joined Goldman Sachs as a technology analyst soon after graduation. While there, he was responsible for much of the infrastructure around their email and SMTP services, and more specifically workplace technologies – anything that an employee would directly access. A few months after he joined, he accepted an opportunity to take the lead for capital budgeting for his team, because it afforded him, as a new hire, a priceless opportunity to “manage up” in the organization.

While many think of 2008 as the year the housing bubble is first mentioned, 2007 brought wind that things might be going very askew for the finance industry, and, by default, for world markets. Menotti’s capital budgeting position, while only around 30% of his job at GS, was “an exercise in discipline” for him.

Goldman is one of the more risk averse asset management firms, and throughout the next few years, they – like every other financial organization – became even more fiscally conscientious.

“Where we’d usually make cuts a few times year, we were sometimes making cuts several times a quarter,” Menotti recalled. “Employee/manager ratios got messed up, which affected each team’s dynamic. Being there during the bad times hardened me for the worst possible cases. Had I been there 5 years earlier when everyone was flying high, it wouldn’t have taught me a lot about business. I appreciate so much more now,” Menotti shared with me.

Menotti stayed in roughly the same role at Goldman until 2012, working with the firm’s email systems to ensure compliance with tightened financial regulations following the crisis. In his 6th year with the firm, he started thinking about what the next step was for him.

He was offered a position at Twitter in mid-2012, and, as Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO posits, “if you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You just get on.” Menotti saw in Twitter what Schmidt saw in a chance to go to the moon – untapped possibilities, and an experience totally unlike what his career had looked like thus far, and signed a contract within days of receiving his offer.

Menotti Minutillo recently returned to the iSchool and shared his story with a group of students.

Menotti Minutillo recently returned to the iSchool and shared his story with a group of students.

At Twitter, things were set up a bit different from Goldman, especially with regard to the firm’s stance on  technology. Twitter was driven more by the engineering and tech side, where financial services was driven more by the front office, those who bring in the revenue.

Twitter embraced technology. The company was based on technology innovation, and the importance of technology was never undermined. “Technology was the center of the firm,” Menotti recalled from his time there. “It’s the lifeblood of a tech/engineer driven company.”

He moved from Senior Program Manager covering product and engineering M&A’s – think Vine, Periscope, Twitpic – and compliance, to Corporate Development Manager in 2015. A coworker recommended he attend a networking event in a building near Twitter, which brought him to his current role at Uber – Senior Technical Program Manager, focusing on information security.

“Information security is often a casualty when you’re a new company and growing fast. We only centralized [information security efforts] about 6 months ago.” Menotti joined Uber in January 2016. His role is very similar to where he started at Twitter in 2012, but “doing something you’ve done before, and doing it better than you’ve done before, is just as important as venturing into new areas,” he feels.

Menotti’s keys to success? Simple. “All the little things in your interactions matter. Absolute perfection when you’re selling yourself and trying to land the job, not embellishing and knowing who you are – these things are really important.” On top of that, and in a very different vein from the advice I’m used to hearing, “always assume the best intentions of your co-workers. They do things for the right reasons – at least in their minds.”  Talk about ideas, not people, and you’ll find opportunities that others won’t.