Caroline Huskey Mack (BA 2015 in Economics & Chinese with Honors)

Chief Operating Officer, Spline in Aspen, Colorado

Tell us about your current job role/employer and what you’re currently working on. 

After a 10-year career in tech focused on product management and revenue growth for global tech companies like Google, Tencent, DocuSign, TripAdvisor, and Canva – I am now building a startup in the 3D design space called Spline. In 2020, I completed my MBA at INSEAD in France before joining Canva to help lead subscription revenue growth. This paved the way for a fascination with design software and a passion for enabling anyone to be a creator.

At Spline, we are making 3D design simple with AI generative models and an easy-to-use UI that reduces the learning curve. We enable designers to take ideas right into production across web, mobile, and spatial devices. Spline is the multidimensional design platform of the future.

What personal and/or career experiences did you have prior to landing your current job and leading to where you are now?

My childhood was spent as the daughter of a United States Diplomat – living in India, Kenya, China, Taiwan, and the United States. This global upbringing led me to an even more global career.

I’ve spent my career working all over the world – now across 5 continents: living in Singapore, Cape Town, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney, and today in Aspen. Technology platforms have a way of truly democratizing economic and educational opportunities for people around the globe, which is why I love building disruptive platforms that cater to an international customer base.

What was the most challenging aspect of your first “real world job” and what did you learn from it?

Growing a startup comes with a plethora of challenges and hurdles – scaling your business, scaling your team, fundraising, selling your product, inspiring others with your vision, and constantly learning new skills. I would say my biggest challenge is to approach work every day with a growth mindset and reach out for advice when I don’t know the answers. There is never a time where I would say “I can’t do this” or “I don’t know how to do this,” but rather “I haven’t learned this yet, where should I go to learn?” There is mental resilience that is hard-won in building a startup, but with this kind of attitude you can persevere through the toughest moments

What advice would you give to new Wake Forest graduates about developing their personal life habits after college (finances, health, values, work/life balance)?

Get the basics right.
Take a personal finance course before you start getting your first paycheck. Learn to carve out pre-tax savings and investments before you get your take home pay. Learn to live within or below your means. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, so be prepared to work hard and earn your stripes in the workplace. Working hard doesn’t look glamorous on social media, but the long-term rewards are undeniable.

In Maslow’s Hierarchy – your health comes first.
I think that after college, managing your physical health is as important as managing your mental health. Schedule regular doctor’s appointments. Find a form of exercise that makes you happy and recharges you, then try to do that for 30 minutes each day. Get a great therapist that you can check in with when you are going through ups and downs, having an objective sounding board or coach on your team is not overrated.

Find your Tribe.
Surround yourself with people who help you move toward the person you want to become. Having a strong friend circle of people who will show up for you and you for them is priceless throughout life. Avoid people that like to talk badly about others, chances are they will do that about you when you are not around.

How have you made personal and professional relationships in your city, company, or community?

I travel a lot for work and for fun – since my work, school, and social contacts are spread across the world, I make sure to always reach out to those in my network for a meal or drink when I touchdown in a new place. If you don’t know anyone in a new place, even better – use social and alumni networks to find the most interesting people you could connect to and have no shame in reaching out to invite them for a conversation.

Friendships are a mutual investment. Some social groups will fall by the wayside as you move on from college, make sure you show up for the friends that are truly one of a kind and make the effort to keep them close. In both friendship and in partnership, a person who shows up for you on your best and worst days is really what matters. Don’t waste too much time on people who aren’t showing up when you need them most.

Have you been mentored by anyone at Wake Forest or in your professional life? If so, what impact has that relationship had on you?

I have had 3 female mentors in my life that have helped me build my confidence and understand my motivations better at critical moments. One quick story:

The first summer after freshman year at Wake Forest, I went to the city in India where I grew up to work for my Indian godmother’s company. My godmother is a beacon of female empowerment and confidence-building which I readily soaked up. That summer, she helped me see how big the world is and how many opportunities there were to have a positive impact on those around you. After the summer spent under her guidance, I was never the same and I came back to Wake Forest more ready to pursue my own individual path as a student and in my career.

What advice would you give to current Wake Forest students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional job?

The most interesting, rewarding, and fulfilling life is rarely built by following the crowd.

Branch out based on your own interests and passions, take big risks throughout your life (where you live, what job you take, traveling on your own), and you will be rewarded with a life that is more aligned to your unique talents and values.

To get into the tech industry, specifically, there is a broad sweep of products you could work on and focus on building. Be sure you are excited about the product you are putting into the world as well as the values of the people and team you are working with. In searching for a role, reach out to people you respect and admire in the industry. Don’t be shy about cold outreach or asking for introductions. Don’t forget that many people working in tech have big, optimistic visions for the future, so they want to hear about yours too!

What are your future career goals or plans? How are you being intentional about working towards them?

Growing Spline into the world’s leading multidimensional design platform!

I spend time angel investing and advising startups, please reach out if you are reading this and would like to chat.

Story published in May 2024. For current updates on Caroline’s career path, visit her LinkedIn profile.