Michael Wong ’96 (meet Michael on IrishCompass) is the founder and CEO of DayBlink, a boutique consulting firm dedicated to providing entrepreneurial experience and serving communities. Wong was elected President of the Notre Dame Alumni Board of Directors in 2009 and concurrently served two years on the Board of Trustees.
Can you provide a brief overview of your background at Notre Dame and how that led you to your current role?
I started at Notre Dame in ’93. Morrissey was my hall. At the time, I was an accounting major with a secondary major in CAP (computer applications) and a concentration in Hesburgh Public Service. The very diverse academic foundation allowed me to do some cool internships: in Hawaii’s state legislature, on Capitol Hill, and at what is now known as PWC. Notre Dame’s accountancy program is one of the best in the country, and because of that, we all had jobs. So, my job took me to D.C. upon graduation, and I was a financial statement auditor. Two years later, I got my CPA and moved over to the management consulting side, where I have been for quite some time. It brought me to New York City, where I had the opportunity to work domestically and internationally on mostly strategy projects within the communications sector. I loved what I got to do. I had some amazing mentors and client experiences that helped me develop the foundation of my career. Then, eight years ago, I started DayBlink.
What is the value of hiring talent from Notre Dame into DayBlink?
You get a unique type of talent out of Notre Dame, and that is one of the reasons we actively recruit there. I was fortunate to have mentors at Notre Dame who really formed who I am personally and professionally. Because of that, I can understand the impact an institution like Notre Dame has on its students and what I can count on as an employer.
What are the top three skills or attributes Dayblink looks for?
Candidates who are well-rounded, good leaders, and purpose-driven. It starts at the beginning: who Notre Dame attracts to the school. Well-rounded. Not just about being smart. It’s a combination of test scores, rank, GPA, leadership, and being a well-balanced individual. It is a great starting point for business. We do not just want the smartest intellectual. Having balance is important. We need leaders, entrepreneurs, and risk-takers. We need people who are purpose-driven. Many people who choose Notre Dame are unique in that regard.
What are some distinguishing factors of strong applicants from Notre Dame?
This is not unique to DayBlink, but what they are looking for is a consistent story in the applicant’s journey. If you really want to work at DayBlink, you probably have a certain profile in terms of your major and activities, and that leads you on a path where DayBlink is the next stop on your logical professional journey. At Notre Dame, you can be part of the consulting club and be an officer. Or maybe it’s the case studies competitions you do. DayBlink is unique in that it is not just a management consulting firm; we are also involved with venture capital, so I would also expect candidates to be involved with the start-up scene within Notre Dame. There are a lot of ways to get involved with that.
When you posted a role on IrishCompass, were any applications received? Were there any leading candidates or hires made?
Yes! We have, several times. Through IrishCompass, we have actually placed people who are on the team today. This is something we have done and will continue to do.
My last post was posted the Wednesday before a home football game. We did an interview before the game and liked the candidate and made her an offer within a week. She is still with DayBlink. We are lucky to have her.
It was later in the year — out of the cycle of when we usually hire. We use IrishCompass for more real-time opportunities because it is hard to forecast employee needs. This applicant felt like the right profile for what we were looking for. I reached out to the team that was en route to South Bend and asked them to interview the candidate. All of the communication happened over text. It was a tailgate interview; it was very untraditional, but DayBlink is very untraditional.
The Notre Dame grads bring a very unique capability to organizations like ours, and that is why we continue to prioritize Notre Dame grads. We are excited to continue that pipeline.
Do you have any advice for Notre Dame alumni applying to DayBlink?
(My tip) for applying to DayBlink would be (to have) a big understanding of who we are. And this applies to any job. It is really doing your research and understanding who they are and who they are not. Take that time because it shows up in the recruiting process, when we ask the questions we think you should know as a candidate, as someone interested in working here. If you do not know them, it shows your lack of preparation. If you are not prepared, will you be prepared for that first project? If you cannot come out of the gate strong during an interview, how will you be on the project? There is nowhere to hide in a small company like ours. You are being asked to do things that are client-facing on day one.
What motivated you to take the risk in starting DayBlink?
I was fortunate to be able to do a lot of personal growth at Notre Dame and understand what life is like, what it means to have a legacy, and what it means to exist. I entered the business world with that foundation and enjoyed the people I was around and what I learned, but this foundation also called me to question if it was the right course. When I am an old Notre Dame alumnus going back to football games and looking back at my career, will I think what I accomplished was meaningful? If my professional career was just in pursuit of financial gains, is that really winning? For me, it is not. Understanding we are called to live purposeful lives is why I took that risk. I have that support system to be able to do this. We are still on our journey, but we have fun with it.
There are 10 alumni currently working at DayBlink who are on IrishCompass. Connect with them by typing ‘DayBlink’ into the search bar on the IrishCompass platform.