On the evening of Monday, September 26, a group of eager, well-dressed, future businesspeople gathered in Fulton for “Marketing x Tech,” an event presented by the Marketing Academy of Boston College (MABC).
The academy welcomed four marketing professionals from across the industry to share their experiences and insight on the intersection of marketing and technology. Among them were three BC alumni—Jenni Mannion of DigitasLBi, CSOM ’15; John Ippolito of HubSpot, MCAS ‘15; and Matt Shapiro of Google, MCAS ‘14. They were joined by Kira Federer of Glassdoor, who tuned in virtually via Skype.
“For 'Marketing x Tech,' our first event of the semester, we wanted to bring in tech marketing professionals who could provide insight into the industry and help students understand this side of marketing better,” Jackson Rettig, co-president of MABC and CSOM ’17, said. “Since this field is currently very popular, we thought it would be a great way to kick off our academic year.”
Quieting the room as they approached the stage, Rettig and Vice President of Finance Anumita Das, CSOM ’17, introduced themselves and the event before turning the microphone over to Danielle Johnson, CSOM ’18 and co-event chair, who presented the speakers to the crowd.
Explaining the process behind selecting the speakers, Rettig identified three main reasons: “First, all of these speakers work in some aspect of the tech marketing field; second, they are all still fairly recent out of school; and lastly, all work in hot tech companies that many students at BC may find interesting.”
“We felt that they were successful professionals who had great experience but could still provide quality advice for students hoping to explore marketing further,” Rettig said.
The event was structured as a panel discussion in which the speakers were asked questions and took turns responding.
The first question invited the panel to summarize how they chose their current career and the path they took to get there. Mannion, the first speaker, explained her interest in both marketing and finance during her undergraduate years and how she ultimately chose marketing after her internship experiences. As an account executive, she enjoys working in a client-facing role that allows her to work with her internal team as well.
Ippolito was next, speaking of his role as a channel account manager. “I had no idea I wanted to be in sales,” Ippolito said, but he found himself in sales internships that led to his current role. He spends the majority of his time on new business and the rest on coaching marketing agencies, striving to answer the question, “How do [you] get a stranger that’s never heard of you onto your site and nurture them until they become a customer?”
Shapiro, too, didn’t intend on going into sales because of its “horrible reputation” and wanted to go into marketing for the email campaigns and website design, what he called the “creative things that get at the more sexy side of marketing.” He made a connection at an internship that led him to Google, where he now works as an account manager, striving to develop relationships with clients to “become a trusted partner to them, get them to trust you, and look at you less as a vendor and more like a consultant who they can share their business data with, partner with, and really trust to grow their business.”
Federer began her career at a large company, took on a role at a startup in a large-responsibility, fast-paced role, then moved on to Glassdoor as a product manager. She thanks her background in sales for her current career, staying that she was selected because she knew how to speak to clients and position the product. For this reason, she encouraged students to get into client-facing roles early in their careers.
“I don’t know that I would be where I am in my career today if I didn’t know how to sell and I didn’t understand the psyche of the buyer; that’s a lot of the reason I came over to the marketing team,” Federer said.
The panel answered more questions about market trends, strategy, and their teams, concluding with advice they wished to give current undergraduates interested in marketing careers.
“The more you can expand your knowledge, the better,” Mannion said, encouraging students to take classes outside of their majors and concentrations, talk to as many people as possible, and research the industry.
“The network is everything, guys,” Shapiro offered, supported by enthusiastic nods from the other panelists. He stressed the importance of face-to-face conversations.
“That means so much more to me than a random LinkedIn message,” he said. “The more personable you can be and show people you’re a person, not just a candidate, show that you have a great background, great interests, you have a lot of passion for whatever you’re applying for, I think that goes a really really long way.”
Shapiro also advised anyone interested in technology to move to San Francisco, as the network he grew in Silicon Valley has proved very valuable.
“I literally moved out there and knew no one, and there is a bar out there called Mary Anne’s of the West, so you’ll be fine,” Shapiro said.
Ippolito gave students a piece of advice that he received from a BC professor—to look for your first boss rather than your first job, encouraging students to ask themselves, “Is this the kind of person who’s hiring me to fill a seat, or is this the kind of person who wants to propel my career?”
Federer agreed with the others, adding her own input about “the art of follow up” after networking and advising students to ignore salary for their first job out of college. Instead, she suggests students learn as much as possible while at a large and reputable organization.
“This round is not about salary, it’s about getting your resume to speak on your behalf,” Federer said.
"Marketing x Tech" comes as part of MABC’s re-branding process for this academic year. Along with a new brand image and new event concepts, the organization aims to make the academy more accessible to all students by diversifying the events, speakers, and students who attend programs.
“There is a lot of interest, and we are trying to make our events inviting, interesting, and current with what BC students are looking for—and we believe re-branding is one ‘piece of the puzzle’ that is going to help us achieve that,” Rettig said.
Rettig emphasizes that MABC is open to all students.
“We believe that marketing is the bridge between business and liberal arts,” Rettig said. “Therefore, we hope to provide an array of interesting, relevant events (e.g. our next event will focus on social impact) that are open to all students, regardless of major or interest.”
For more information about MABC, visit the organization's website here.