"Pick a Dream Boss over a Dream Job"

Meet President and CEO of American Combustion International Vivek Gautam 15B.

By Vivek Gautam 15B
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As part of its Career Spotlight series, EmoryWire is pleased to present this interview with Vivek Gautam, a 2015 Goizueta Evening MBA program graduate.

Describe your current position and one major lesson you have learned since assuming your role.

American Combustion
I am currently the President and CEO of American Combustion International, a company I purchased from Air Liquide in July 2016. The biggest lesson I have learned as an owner of a small company is the importance of always having some extra cash in the business.

When I took over my company, I had only three months of operating cash flow which was barely enough considering our sales to payment cycle is 8-12 weeks. I had almost exhausted my entire cash by the time my first payments from the customers started coming in. Looking back, I now realize how close to bankruptcy I was if I hadn’t received those payments in time.

Best career advice you've ever received?

My best career advice came from my Ph.D. advisor who once told me to always pick a dream boss over a dream job. According to him, a good boss can make even a boring job rewarding, whereas a bad boss can make you miserable even in your dream job.

Looking back at my career trajectory, I couldn’t have agreed with him more. Today I credit all my great bosses, including him, for pushing me to always strive for perfection even when it seems difficult to achieve.

How did your Emory education affect your career choices?

To be honest, I am fairly certain that I wouldn’t have done what I am currently doing without my Emory education. Prior to Emory, I was a technical professional who enjoyed engineering and preferred to stay within my technical expertise. Emory taught me to go after things even if I didn’t have the relevant expertise or resources at my disposal.

It was at Emory I learned the value of delegating and finding help if I didn’t have the expertise. My Emory friends and professors helped me at every stage of my scientist-to-entrepreneur journey, and I couldn’t have been more thankful to them for all their help and support.

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