Career Insight: Jack Abraham on Changing the World through Technological Innovation

In this second installment of the KWHS "Career Insight" feature (search Sachin Rekhi for the first), Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jack Abraham urges high school students to embrace technology as you consider your future career path.Read More

by Diana Drake
Jack Abraham founded, which sold to eBay for a reported $75 million.
Jack Abraham founded, which sold to eBay for a reported $75 million.

Entrepreneur Jack Abraham knows a thing or two about technology. In 2008, he left Wharton (where he studied technological entrepreneurship) to found, a shopping engine that searches local store shelves in real time to find the best prices and availability for products of all kinds. In December 2010, eBay bought for a reported $75 million. A year later, Abraham shared with KWHS some thoughts about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.  Abraham worked at eBay until January 2013, lending his entrepreneurial mindset to help spearhead some of the company’s newer features, including a Pinterest-like newsfeed. He has been working in the San Francisco Bay Area ever since to launch a new tech-driven enterprise.

In this, Abraham’s Skype address to high school students participating in the 2015 KWHS Investment Competition finale, he shares why we should all be behind the idea of changing the world through technological innovation, especially in fields like finance.

You are all young and starting to think about college. One thing that has served me incredibly well over the course of my life is the recognition that we are entering an era where technology is transforming everything. It’s transforming every industry and it’s creating and enabling products and services. Even if you decide that you want to go into a career like finance, I would strongly recommend learning to program, learning about databases, learning about data and how to manipulate it. We are just hitting this wave in finance where technology is going to start to disrupt the industry, and given how young you are and how much [time] you have to learn, this could be a massive opportunity for you. A lot is being done and even more will be done that will change the way people invest, think about capital and where it goes in the coming years. You might be on the side that is playing into the disruption, which could be lucrative and a really big wave that would be interesting for some of you to ride, or you might be [on the side of] doing traditional investing and using the technology and the tools, and the data and analysis as ways to pull data from disparate sources.

Friends who went to Wharton and also studied computer science through the management and technology program are now incredibly highly sought after and producing very differentiated strategies at hedge funds, banks and investing groups across the world. That’s going to be such a differentiating skill set. An industry like finance traditionally takes you decades to pay your dues and get to the point where you can be making and driving decisions. The one place [where] that isn’t true in the finance industry is at the intersection of finance and technology. To the degree to which you can play into that and have the background and skill set related to that, even if you’re doing traditional asset allocation and analysis of securities both public and private, having a strong background in technology will help differentiate you and help you secure a bright future.

It’s not the easiest thing, so now is the time. Learn how to program, learn how to manipulate data, learn how to analyze it, learn about databases and data structures, think about all the data that exists in the world today and how it might be used in really intelligent ways. Technology is the future.

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Conversation Starters

Why do you think Jack Abraham says that “having a strong background in technology will help differentiate you?”

Related to Abraham’s advice on technology innovation is this concept of “Big Data.” Using the Related Links, research what this means and why it is so important to today’s workplace and job market.

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