Creighton Taylor is the founder and CEO of Guided Compass, a career matching and tracking platform that partners with community colleges, high schools, government agencies and non-profits to extend their workforce development efforts. The company’s mission is to help youth discover and onboard to purpose-driven careers.
Creighton graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree and from Harvard Business School with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. He is also a certified financial analyst (CFA) – all three levels. He has worked as an investment professional and product manager for various startups launched more than 10 software applications and founded four workforce development organizations.
From school, to finance, to start-ups and coding, Creighton’s path is one of skill-building in service of impact and mission. We found his work and story inspiring, in part because we think that working to improve the future of work better is an awesome focus.
What was your undergraduate experience like?
I enjoyed my time at Emory University. I majored in business and music (piano). I split my time among three things: academics, extracurriculars, and job-hunting. For academics, I had a 1.6 GPA my first semester and then averaged a 3.5 GPA for my other semesters. It was a struggle. For extracurriculars, I played varsity basketball my first year, quit, then joined Alpha Kappa Psi. For job-hunting, I struggled because I graduated in 2008—looking for a job in finance. I had to apply to hundreds of positions before I got my first job.
(Author’s note! ArcVida does not recommend applying – read what to do instead here!)
What did you do during the summer?
The main internship I completed was an investment banking internship in Vancouver, B.C. It was a great experience. I loved the city during the summer, and I learned a lot on the job. The company was a small company that completed mergers and acquisitions on small- to mid-sized companies. I learned a lot about sales and finance when I was working there.
What was your first job after college?
I worked as a Fund Administrator at Western Asset Management. This was a large, fixed-income asset manager with over $600 billion under management. The role falls under accounting. I spent my time tracking cash and ensuring assets were valued properly.
I was interested in finance, so the industry—in a lot of ways—was a good fit for me at the time. However, I found the job boring as I was more interested in the investment part than the accounting part. I liked predictive analytics rather than recordkeeping.
What made you decide to go to graduate school?
I decided to go to graduate school because I wanted to switch careers. I was laid off from Western Asset Management after a year. Then, I joined Rochdale Investment Management, working for a partner for three years in San Francisco. We helped make rich people richer. The average account we invested for was $2M+ and there was a total of $5B+ under management. After a year or two at Rochdale, I realized I was not particularly inspired by the goal of my role. So, I decided to apply to business schools. I was accepted at Harvard Business School and attended.
Did have any “aha” moments in graduate school?
I realized that I wanted to do the reverse of what I was doing at Rochdale. I wanted to help the 99% of income earners gain wealth rather than help the top 1% of income earners keep wealth. This was the origin of Guided Compass, a product that would help 99% of income earners manage their earned income, particularly for those early in their careers.
What did you do for work after graduate school?
I learned to code and started Compass after graduating. This was a tool that helped career coaches guide career-seekers. The goal was to help 99% of income earners to maximize their earned income over the long term. I raised some seed funding, but I made tons of mistakes since this was my first startup. After 1.5 years, I wound the company down.
Why and when did you transition into your next job?
I transitioned because I ran out of funding with Compass. This was in 2015. After a few product management and software development consulting roles, I landed a role as Head of Product of Fitspot, a seed-stage, fitness-tech startup. Then I started Guided Compass in 2018 because I had stronger skills, a different angle at which to solve the problem I’d identified when I started Compass. And the timing seemed better to start a company.
How is your role as a founder and CEO a great fit for you?
I’ve always been entrepreneurial, hard-working, and passionate. This role allows me to use these skills and traits on a daily basis.
What does Guided Compass offer?
Our customers are community colleges, high schools and government organizations or non-profits that are focused on supporting job-seekers. We serve their students or clients by recommending career events, projects, and work opportunities based on a work profile they create. We source the opportunities from employers. Additionally, if the job-seekers work with a mentor, they can also log resume feedback, mock interview feedback, and career goals all in one place. Lastly, we have a number of additional tools that can be helpful and informative such as a financial planning tool to compare different career paths.
What are your experiences and results from networking?
Networking is a far better way to get a job than applying via traditional means. Networking shows resourcefulness and is typically linked to a strong interest in the opportunity. Additionally, networking is a great way to learn about opportunities that you don’t know about or that have not been posted yet.
What are some key lessons you’ve learned about creating your own career path?
- For people who are looking at entry-level career opportunities, try as many things as possible via projects. These are low-risk ways to try different career paths—where the cost of failing is low.
- Ideally, work on projects that solve real problems, and showcase them to demonstrate your value and competencies.
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Published on 6/21/2021