Meet Marcus Taylor, Karat’s VP of Account Management
The Karat Team
In this week’s Q&A, Karat’s VP of Account Management, Marcus Taylor, talks about his journey from the football field to the tech industry and reimagining the hiring process to break down systemic barriers.
Karat: Marcus, we’re super excited that you’ve joined us at Karat. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?
Marcus: I grew up in Silver Spring, MD. I went to Fordham University in the Bronx, New York and I was on the football team there. I was then invited to the Minnesota Vikings Rookie camp in the National Football League but quickly realized that that wasn’t going to be my career. So I began carving another path for myself in the financial industry. I worked at New York Life on Wall Street and then transitioned to MassMutual where I was working with athletes and families trying to help them understand their insurance gaps.
One day, I was out for lunch and met some employees from Indeed who spoke highly of the company so I decided to take the interview. Little did I know, walking into that office, I would say yes and began my journey with Indeed that lasted 10 years! I worked my way up from an Account Executive to a sales leader and had the opportunity to transfer to the company headquarters in Austin, Texas where I helped build out our sales office. That’s where I got my first introduction to Karat through a mutual connection and fell in love with the idea of unlocking opportunities through the transformational moment of an interview.
K: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve faced over the course of your career?
M: Some of the challenges I’ve faced come down to imposter syndrome: being confident in knowing that I could get those certain jobs and not putting myself in a box. Those are more internal battles I’ve faced just from not seeing a lot of people like me in certain positions. So I’d say my biggest obstacle was getting out of my own way.
K: Who are some of your inspirations that did help you realize your greatness?
M: My mother and siblings are a huge support system and the back-bone of everything I’ve been able to accomplish. Outside of my immediate family, my old high school football coach Norman Edwards always challenged and pushed me. He helped me understand the importance of practice and hard work ethic. My mentor Robert Holdman, at Fordham University, was also instrumental in my growth. Both these men helped me understand the things I needed to do to get where I wanted to be, which taught me how to be a better man, better husband and better father.
K: How did being an athlete prepare you for the work that you do now? Are there skills that are relevant to what you do now?
M: Effective time management is the biggest piece that I still carry into today. College was a beast. Fordham pushed me a lot academically and then being an athlete forced me to stay accountable. My family was very regimental so coming from that foundation helped me stay focused and on task.
K: What’s something you are most proud of in your career?
M: Becoming a Senior Director at Indeed. It’s the proudest moment I’ve had professionally because I was the first Black man to reach that level and I was able to take on the challenge of transforming an office and team and building it to what it is now.
K: What a journey! We’re honored to have you here now. At Karat, we ask everyone who joins this important question: Why Karat?
M: The opportunity to revamp the hiring process is what drove me to Karat. Karat’s commitment to really break down barriers and give everyone that same interview opportunity resonated with me as a mission-driven person. The Brilliant Black Minds program was a no-brainer for me. The fact that we are actually building solutions to level the playing field and are invested in the lives of Black engineers is huge.
K: What other work do you do that you are passionate about?
M: About a year and a half ago, I started a non-profit called Project Education First– a program that provides laptops to minority youth. I was just tired of sitting back and saying “somebody should really do something.” A lot of kids don’t have access to a laptop and in turn don’t have the opportunity to expand their digital literacy. We also offer a mentorship program where professionals from different industries come to speak with the kids and give them a different perspective to what success looks like. After they graduate high school and become alumni, they have opportunities to give back to the program.
K: At Karat, we’re all about making interviews which are typically a daunting process, more fair, predictive, and enjoyable. On that note, what do you think makes an interview more fun and enjoyable?
M: I’ve interviewed a lot of candidates in my career and what I’ve learned from being on both ends is that you want the person who is interviewing you to smile. If you come into a room and the interviewer has a stone cold face, you’re going to be on edge. So I think really breaking down those barriers, and being human is important.
One of the questions we used to ask when we interview sales candidates is what song they play once they close a deal: it would help ease candidates to feeling comfortable in that interview. That’s another thing that drew me to Karat. The company is so intentional about the interview and how we try to put candidates at ease to do their best, it just creates a much better candidate experience.
K: Is there an interview that’s changed your life?
M: An interview that changed my life is one when I was trying out for the NFL. Those interviews are intense. They want to know how you communicate, how you react to certain situations. And also challenge you to remain calm because some questions may be triggering.
K: As someone who’s worked at Indeed for the past decade, what advice would you give to candidates pursuing a career in tech? Or even to candidates who are navigating different fields in tech?
M: The biggest advice is: be true to you. A lot of times people try to become someone different when they interview for jobs.I think the more you do that the more pressure you put on yourself and it’s not sustainable. Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to ask honest questions in an interview. One question that I like to ask and be asked is, “what are your three non negotiable?” That way employers and the candidate have a mutual understanding of boundaries from the beginning.
K: What kind of mark do you want to leave at Karat?
M: Most importantly, I want to stay strong in who I am as an individual. I want people who look like me to realize they can be in these roles, at these tables and in these positions.
K: Is there a brilliant Black mind that inspires you?
M: I did a project on Garret Morgan who inspired the traffic light in the second grade and I won first place. My mom still has the picture of me with the gumby haircut holding up the poster. I think he personified Black brilliance. His diligence, passion and commitment to creating a change when no one else wanted him inspires me. Garret Morgan is an example of Black excellence to me and an example of how I want to emulate and mirror my own life.
Get to Know Marcus Taylor: Rapid Fire Round
A book you recommend everyone should read: Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman
Favorite piece of art in your home: Anything my kids make
Favorite musician: J-cole
Favorite sports team: North Carolina Tar Heels
App on your phone you can’t live without: Bank of America
Song you play when you close a deal: It was a good day by Ice Cube
This month, we’re celebrating Black brilliance within our community at Karat. Keep an eye out for our feature next week!
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