Oklo’s Director of Communications and Media, Bonita Chester, interviews Anthony Vu, the Director of Operations at Oklo, to discuss his experience in scaling startups and the work he is leading at Oklo. Watch the full conversation here and read the abbreviated highlights below.
You came from a highly diverse career path. Most recently, you were the Chief of Staff at Religion of Sports, an Emmy Award-winning sports media company co-founded by Tom Brady and Michael Strahan. Can you share your background with us?
I started my career at Cisco, and my focus areas span from customer strategy, customer experience to HR. During my time at Cisco, I pursued my MBA, and I became inspired to build companies from the ground up. From there, I transitioned to working for several startups.
A unique experience presented itself and introduced me to the founder of Avisare, who was going through the LA Techstar accelerator program, which is a worldwide program that helps entrepreneurs ramp up their startups. It was the founder and myself heading up every aspect of the business. Following my time at Avisare, I joined a Y Combinator company called CareRev as the Director of Operations before becoming the Chief of Staff at Religion of Sports. My responsibilities included everything non-creative to help scale the company.
At Oklo, I am leveraging and bringing my skills from Religion of Sports to help build the company and scale it.
It is exciting to have our non-technical team grow. What made you want to join Oklo?
I have always been passionate about climate change and the environment. So when I saw Oklo was hiring for the Director of Operations position, I was interested, and I wanted to work in a sector that I care deeply about.
We have a group of highly inspired and resilient individuals at Oklo who can turn a challenge into an opportunity and are motivated to do things differently. What do you think contributes to our strong team dynamic, and how important is company culture to you?
Company culture is essential. One of my primary goals as the Director of Operations is to make Oklo the best company to work for in the world. It’s not an easy task, but that is what I strive for.
I believe that company culture helps shape and build a company. A great company truly starts from its culture, and it is essential to Oklo’s co-founders, Caroline and Jake. We constantly harp on getting people together who have diverse ideas and experiences. As we continue to grow, culture will remain essential and help us stay successful as we scale.
In terms of strong team dynamic, getting together every quarter for retreat types events is key for us! We have a group of inspiring and wonderful people, and nothing beats spending time together to cultivate and maintain a strong dynamic across the organization.
We grew our team more than half during the pandemic. We even made history by developing the first-ever advanced fission combined license application, which completed acceptance review during the first three months of COVID lockdowns nationwide. As we transition to more in-person events and meetings, what are some things you think will remain, and what will change in work dynamic?
I joined during the pandemic, but when Oklo started, everyone worked out of the office. The company embraced the challenge when the pandemic hit and transitioned to a remote workforce seamlessly, and I don’t see that trend ending. There are many benefits to having a hybrid of in-office and remote workforce. The biggest factor is talent! There is so much talent out there across the country and the world that we will be able to tap into.
In terms of what will change, it will be creating unique in-person experiences. As the company grows and becomes more remote, we will want to make an effort to get team members together at least four times a year.