Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative that finds exceptional people and helps them do more for others together. An emerging priority for Schmidt Futures is the development and placement of technical talent on projects that can drive significant social good. This is for a few reasons:
- For those working on a range of challenges – from a famine to healthcare to climate – recruiting top technical talent can be a choke point;
- Students and recent graduates are showing growing interest in career paths that allow them to tackle society’s toughest challenges;
- Nevertheless, the market for connecting this surging talent to the world’s hardest problems remains broken.
The Associate Product Manager (APM) program is directly filling that gap and allowing us to better understand how to solve this market failure. The program recruits talented young leaders with technical training in computer science, product management, and machine learning to work on high value social impact projects. Over the course of a two-year rotation, APMs work with Schmidt Futures grantees on topics ranging from data-driven criminal justice reform to learning science.
In the first year of the program, we found a surge of interest from young, entrepreneurial people who want to use their skills in the social sector, but who lack pathways to do so. For example, in our first year of recruitment, more than 300 people applied for the program including over 30 percent of the graduating computer science class at Stanford. We made nine offers and all accepted including students with cross-offers in engineering and product roles at major tech companies.
The APM Program is moving into its second year of existence with 17 APMs this Fall. Schmidt Futures is looking for a leader who will take the program from pilot to scale up. This is an ideal role for an entrepreneurial leader who wants to grow a new model to transform the social sector through talent.
Strategy and vision of APM program
- Own and regularly refine vision for the APM Program based on what we learn from running the program
- Develop and operationalize plan to scale up impact of APM program for more young talent and social impact organizations over time
- Conduct outreach to leading organizations and thinkers to inform APM program strategy
- Build partnerships with leaders from other philanthropies interested in applying the APM model to their work
Project vetting, selection, and scoping
- Set priorities for how to best leverage APM talent towards the highest societal good
- Develop a sustainable model for placement of APMs on projects that maximize APM learning and growth as well as “but for” impact on social impact organizations
- Work with Schmidt Futures team to identify grantees that would be good fits for an APM and scope projects
Recruitment, training, and coaching for APMs
- Work with Schmidt Futures recruitment team to recruit diverse, entrepreneurial cohorts of APMs annually
- Provide coaching to APM to help them advance their projects and get feedback to build and improve the program
- Drive APM performance evaluation process through collecting feedback on APM performance from partner organizations where they are placed and Schmidt Futures staff
Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
Some of the desired capabilities include:
- Entrepreneurial leader who is oriented towards action, learning by doing, and iterative approaches
- Creative, outside of the box thinker who comes up with new, better ways to achieve goals
- Strong communicator with the ability to articulate vision and tactics to motivate others
- Excellent judgement and ability to involve others in the decision-making process
- Proven ability to build a culture where groups work as a team to achieve shared objectives
- Ability to blend strong people and project management abilities to effectively set team goals, and coach individuals for continued growth and development
- Experience managing at least 3 direct reports
- Have 5 – 10 years of experience in an operational or product management function
- Have the highest levels of personal ethics and professional integrity
- Be based at the Schmidt Futures offices in New York and be able to travel within the U.S. and internationally on a regular basis as needed