Jerrod Hill, WG’15, has been helping people step up to a new challenge for over 10 years, and he is putting this experience to use managing WCNY’s 220 volunteers. He joined Teach for America (TFA) in Atlanta, and that experience led him to co-found the Black Male Leadership Association in 2010. This initiative helped members to become better instructors, mentors and role models. Jerrod believed that, if he could help increase their efficacy and retention as teachers, those men would improve the academic and life situations of their students in schools. This initiative later expanded to other cities.
Holding a degree in mechanical engineering, Jerrod pivoted to earn his master’s degree in teaching while with TFA. He saw how education impacted and greatly improved his life, so he wanted to return the favor to other students who were less fortunate.
Jerrod also had a passion for startups, technology and investing, which brought him to Wharton. While at school, he worked at an angel fund, the Wharton Social Venture Fund; two startups; and Dreamit Ventures, a technology accelerator.
After Wharton, Jerrod took on a mix of traditional business, investing and big tech. He was a Senior Associate at Techstars NYC Accelerator; interned at Bowery Capital, an early-stage venture capital fund; was a management consultant at Boston Consulting Group; and even did independent consulting to help Wharton students interview for management consulting roles.
Today, Jerrod is Venture Capital Business Development Manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS). He works with 60 venture capital (VC) funds located in Austin, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia and other markets, where he helps portfolio startup companies access resources at AWS and Amazon.
How exactly do you help startups work with AWS?
I build relationships with the VC funds and help their startup teams navigate AWS and Amazon. Let’s say a startup is selling shirts and has an issue with using the Amazon.com platform or is building its cloud infrastructure on AWS and has questions about products. I walk the startup through the process and connect it to the right people to fix its issue.
If a startup is raising a new round of funding, I can introduce it to new investors and assist it more broadly with the fundraising process. The goal for my team is to do right by our customer and earn trust, so that the startup remains a long-term customer and has a great experience with our product.
How are you approaching your role as Vice President of WCNY’s Volunteer Services?
Previously, we hosted volunteer orientations, twice a year. I decided to try a more targeted approach. For example, we wanted to fill the Events Manager role. So I targeted alumni members who had attended several events over the past year. I knew they would be passionate about the role and would know what a high-quality event looks like.
For the Joseph Wharton Awards Dinner position, instead of emailing 25,000 alumni, I messaged only the members who attended dinners in the past two years. Because they are a more passionate base, and they know what to expect, they will have ideas, and retention will be better.
And you have said you want to appreciate volunteers more.
Regina Jaslow, W’97, President of WCNY and I want to reduce the load on volunteers and prevent burnout by having more volunteers who can be spread around to different initiatives. So, most VP positions now have an Assistant Vice President.
Volunteers are all busy and move in different silos, so we would like to have volunteer appreciation events this year or next year to celebrate their hard work. Additionally, WCNY magazine articles on volunteers have been a fantastic way to acknowledge them.