Marie-Theres Klüpfel and Niusha Shahmoradi were both part of the graduate sales programme at Project A. After the 18-months long journey Niusha will start working for one of Project A’s portfolio companies. After 11 months, Marie-Theres will now prematurely support Project A as a junior sales & customer success analyst.
Read on to find out what their most exciting projects in the past months were all about (and also learn how Marie once ended up shark diving on the Fijis).
Why did you join Project A?
Marie-Theres: After finishing my Masters in Management and Marketing in Berlin and Paris and having gained work experience in sales, consulting and a startup, I was looking for a job that would meet the following three criteria:
- Work with like-minded people in the dynamic and fast-paced startup world
- Build profound sales competences instead of starting as a generalist
- Develop and apply this competence in a project-based working style within a company culture that values knowledge sharing and thus enables you to run through an enormous learning curve
The graduate sales programme at Project A perfectly combined these criteria!
Niusha: I developed a strong interest in the “startup world” during my studies. At Project A I am able to get my hands dirty working with some of the most interesting startups while learning about the VC ecosystem from the perspective of an investor. The best of both worlds!
How does a typical week at your work look like?
Niusha: Our weeks always look different and that’s what excites me every monday morning! Usually we are fully staffed on projects in our portfolio companies. The scope of our projects can be of operational nature, with a hands-on touch, or more on the strategic side. During these projects we are recognised as full team members in the portfolio companies and get to join all of their internal meetings.
Additionally, on the Project A side each trainee has an ownership topic which they are responsible for. I started our Scaling Sales Meetup and later on wrote our newsletter. Next to these tasks we have weekly sales knowledge exchanges, training sessions, as well as company wide sessions from other departments like marketing or data.
What does it take to join the Graduate Sales Programme at Project A?
Niusha: First things first: you need to have a certain passion for sales. You have to understand the importance of getting in touch with (potential) customers in order to turn a portfolio company into a success story. The second important aspect of this programme is taking ownership. This means that you should be fine with being held accountable for your failures, but of course also your successes.
Marie-Theres: A third essential characteristic is that you need to be a fast learner. Meaning that you are able to quickly dive into new industries, innovative products and different working environments. This is what the project-based working style with our portfolio companies is actually all about. Lastly, resilience is also quite important. You need to be able to work through 99 failures in order to get one win. Get hit and get up – period!
What was the most exciting project at Project A you did so far?
Niusha: There were many noteworthy moments while working longer periods at Crossengage, Kry and Pactum. However, for the sake of picking one, I’d have to say Kry. I joined their organisation at the time when Germany went into its first lockdown. Being a newbie to anything related to medicine and working in the digital health sphere during a pandemic was the most intense experience.
Marie-Theres: That is a tough one. My first placement was at Micropsi Industries, a robotics software company, followed by the second project at our portfolio venture Carl – an M&A platform for SMEs. In both projects – as I had no machine learning or corporate finance background – I quickly had to build up knowledge in these related fields. To pick one, I would say Carl. Working in fintech was one of the most intense and exciting experiences due to my involvement in the execution as well as the origination side of M&A transactions and my support in the strategic development of the M&A origination department – where new projects are acquired.
In what ways is Project A helping you to achieve your career goals?
Niusha: Project A is undeniably a household name. Because of Project A I got access to a super innovative environment. You get to bounce around ideas with industry veterans and people who are already where you see yourself in 5-10 years. Now that the graduate programme is almost over I chose the operational track and will start working with a portfolio company of Project A as their first commercial hire.
Marie-Theres: The graduate programme focuses on deeply understanding the operational processes and really do operational work before looking into the strategic side of things. I strongly believe only because of gaining this operational expertise within various portfolio companies I am capable of sustainably driving strategic change. Combining this with my analytical skills Project A, one of the most thrilling operational VCs around Europe, now provides the right environment to grow into a sales & customer success analyst role.
What do you love most about Project A’s company culture?
Marie-Theres: I think we both agree on that one! Project A really believes in knowledge sharing as one of its core values - and that’s what we love most about the culture here! Our vibrant work environment and the company culture in general are very unique: We are able to work with the brightest minds in the startup ecosystem, can learn from functional experts and are being supported to professionally develop ourselves further!
Niusha: Plus, knowledge sharing not only happens during trainings and coachings, but also at team lunches and after-work drinks!
What are your secrets people are not aware of?
Marie-Theres: I am a person who loves getting out of her comfort zone by trying out new things and getting thrown into the cold water. I believe that this is one of the best ways to learn and experience the unexpected. This is also how I ended up doing a shark dive on the Fijis (without cage) which intensified my passion for exploring the underwater world – but probably never again with sharks. Apart from that I am quite a connoisseur when it comes to food and coffee – breakfast could last until other people have had dinner.
Niusha: I’d rather not answer this question here but I am a talkative person so invite me out to anything but shark diving and I’ll probably tell you.
If you are now curious about Niusha’s secret and want to be the next trainee of our graduate programme, apply here!