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MBA Alums Get their Starts at Startups

By Kait Kisel, student writer

Broad College of Business Full-Time MBA alumni David Yanagi, Nick Zaggy, and Landon Terzich (FTMBA Marketing ’17) joined forces and ventured to the West Coast to work at New Engen, a startup digital marketing service located in Seattle, Washington.

Three MBAs from the same class to one startup … what gives? We talked with Yanagi to find out more about New Engen and how being a MBA graduate helped prepare him and his classmates to succeed at the company.

Dave
David Yanagi and two of his classmates honed the skills to thrive at a startup while at the Broad College of Business.

How did you all go from East Lansing to New Engen?

Nick found New Engen online and decided to apply. Shortly after, he contacted me and told me about the company, leading me to send in my resume. The turnaround was very fast, as about a week after, I was hired. Once I got to our office, I understood why. We are growing very rapidly and needed talented marketers. New Engen asked if we had anyone that we’d recommend. Landon was at the top of Nick and I’s list, so we reached out to him and sent his information on to our head of recruiting. He passed our analytics test and was here about a month after me. 

What is the startup culture of New Engen like?

Oh, it is amazing. We work very hard, but we also laugh a lot. On the surface, we are relaxed and laid-back marketers, but just below that, we all have that competitive edge, thriving on the stress of building something. I guess the best way to sum it up is to talk about yesterday. Yesterday we had a gingerbread house building competition, which my team followed up with a secret Santa gift exchange. People would run to and from the gingerbread table to make little adjustments while we all worked. The Secret Santa exchange was full of gifts that showed we all really know each other as a team. We spend so much time together working and joking that we’re kind of like a family.

What drew you into the company, or into working at a startup?

Startups are great companies to work for if you are looking to gain a massive amount of experience and skills in a short amount of time. Before I got to New Engen, I had no formal marketing experience, so I wanted to get my hands on a little bit of everything. Since coming here, I have had the ability to manage accounts (internal and partner-facing), write copy, creatively problem solve, prepare and deliver analytic reports, and really dive into what digital marketing is, all while sitting within 100 ft. of the founders of the company.

Second, the company itself is on the cutting edge of our field. Using our proprietary technology, we can truly drive change and noticeable results for partners, the likes of which would traditionally take hundreds of marketers working around the clock (we are about 100 people). It is exciting to be a part of something so new and revolutionary.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Typical is not in our vocabulary at New Engen. Every day, we are faced with new challenges and new problems to solve. Workday starts at 9(ish), team meeting at 9:30 and then it’s kind of a free for all. It could be writing new ad copy, pulling reports, managing channels, holding a baking contest, meeting with partners, launching new campaigns, managing bids and budgets, teaching learnings internally, or any range of things. I enjoy the work because of the variety – you never know what to expect, and that keeps it exciting.

How did Broad’s MBA program prepare you for the work you do now?

Broad set us up for success when it comes to creatively thinking about marketing. Marketing itself is an imperfect science. Living in the age of technology, we are closer than ever to figuring out what works and why that is the case (backed by data and global communication).

Broad provided me with a base skillset that I utilize everyday creatively. I apply principles from case studies, and show that there are often many solutions to a given problem, depending on how it is approached. Furthermore, Broad gave me a holistic view of business, which I apply to many of the actions that I take with accounts. A lot of what we do would be considered “in the weeds” marketing. Broad gave me the ability to see the forest through the trees, as it were, and really think about why a partner wants to take a specific action from a larger brand standpoint. Broad has also provided me with a strong network of connections, which enabled me to land this job.

What tips do you have for future Broad grads hoping to break into the industry?

Be relentless, be passionate, and take advantage of the network that you may not realize you have. In the two years prior to working at New Engen, I sent out numerous resumes and job applications. I had no marketing experience prior to the MBA program, and not many companies wanted to take a chance on me. I went to conferences and job fairs, reached out on LinkedIn, all to no avail. The startup where I now work was the company that rewarded for relentlessness. Once they decided to give me an interview, I showed my passion for connecting customers to companies, as well as my passion for the field. That passion convinced them to send me the offer.

I didn’t realize that the opportunity for my dream position would come from a colleague I attended grad school with. I thought I had to tap into people who had been in the industry for years. So, to you future grads, you have friends, you have colleagues, you have people rooting for you. Work hard, for sure, but also let them help.


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