Progrexion Senior Director, Marketing Technology
University of Utah Masters of Science, Information Systems
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Tue Feb 11 2020
The things that I would highlight are obviously kind of starting with the education that I was able to get. So I started out by just going to dig the state. I'm a golfer so I went down there to play in a golf team there and just do my kind of general education. Always my goal was to go to the University of Utah to do my bachelor's. So after I completed my general at Dixie I came up to the University of Utah and went to get the business administration program through the business school there and then was able to get into the masters of information systems program, which was fairly new at that time. I think that was maybe the third or fourth year that they were offering it, so I was able to get in, I think there was, like, 32-35 students in it at that point so it was a new thing, But that was very key for me and it gave me kind of tangible skills and specific ways to go search the job market for what I was looking for. So I really liked project management type stuff and business analyst work and so it gave me the opportunity to go start searching for those jobs. Not only were the skills that I got there really important but the relationships I build there were really important as well. So John Soldin who I think still teaches up there at BYU. He was actually running the program at the time, and he was just a key relationship that I was able to develop, and he taught me a lot, was a really good mentor, and that kind of led to future things in my career as well. So I think I would highlight the skills that I was able to develop, kind of focusing in and narrowing what I wanted to look for in the job market and then the networking and relationships I was able to build in the program were super valuable and important. Then while I was in the program, I started an internship at Discover card, so I was able to do a project management internship with them. So they have satellite IT office here in Salt Lake City, they are out at West Valley at their call center location and so I was able to do a technology-based project management internship with them. I learned a lot in that process, and then they hired me on a full time, after the internship. So once I finished the program at BYU then I started full time with Discover and what I would say about Discover is they are obviously a very successful company. They're very large, they have a lot of processes and systems within the organization so I was able to learn a lot of those things while working there and obviously there's a lot of really smart, really good people there and so I learned a lot from just working with them every day. The one thing that I was missing, though, was really feeling like I was having an impact obviously when you're in that type of organization that's so big that you don't feel like you're necessarily moving the needle, and so that's when I started looking elsewhere and that's when actually, John was working at Progrexion, which is where I'm at today currently. And he reached out to me about an opportunity within their project management office that he was actually chartering and starting with the company here. So I moved over in and went to work with him her at Progrexion and now I'm still with Progrexion today, so that's kind of how things went for me at that point.

What are the responsibilities and decisions that you handle at work? Discuss weekly hours you spend in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Marketing Technology, Progrexion
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Tue Feb 11 2020
My role at Progrexion is I manage what we call our marketing technology as well as our digital marketing responsibility. So what that means is, I really have responsibility for kind of a full end to end digital flow within the business. So both on the ad buying side and the media side all the way through the web experience to the digital conversion takes place. So my team spans the skill sets of media buyers, so people that are buying advertising on Google, Facebook, other platforms that we do media on, and then I have web optimization and strategy. So people that are are responsible for developing conversion rate optimization on our website so we do a lot of A/B testing, and we do a lot of things like that so managing those processes. Then I have web development and web analysts skill sets as well. So people that are actually building our marketing sites and our web experiences and people that are measuring the outcomes and what's happening. And so really, that's kind of where my responsibility lies, so it covers kind of that full end to end digital funnel which is super fun. It's kind of a unique role that I actually helped to create within the organization from the marketing technology side. So we do have an IT department but I saw a gap within New York where we didn't really have platforms and systems that enabled rapid development and rapid adoration and testing. And so we were able to put a team together that could support that and we leverage Adobes technology to do that. So we use the Adobes Content Management system, which is called Adobe Experience Manager, so that's where we do all of our web development. We use Adobe Target to run over A/B testing, and then we use Adobe analytics to do all the measurements of what's happening within our web experiences. So my team is responsible for all those tools and then all the work that happens within those tools. So I would say it's typically, maybe 50 to 55 hours a week that I'm working. I am in the office every day, so we're based here in Salt Lake City downtown. So our offices second south and Second East and I just live close here in the valley. So I come into the office every day and then I do work from home on occasion if there are certain projects that we are working on or certain initiatives that were a call center business so sometimes we have to make changes and do things outside of call center hours. So that will require us to be out late at night for deploying different code or making these changes to the systems then we make those changes off-hours and validate those things at those times. So that happens, it's not very frequent, it's at most once a month, nothing too crazy but most of my time is spent here in the office.

What tools (software programs, frameworks, models, algorithms, languages) do you use at work? Do you prefer certain tools more than the others? Why?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Marketing Technology, Progrexion
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Feb 11 2020
I kind of mentioned this previously, but we use a lot of the Adobe software. AEM has been a big their experience manager platform and we've invested a lot there and really building out a web platform that can enable rapid adoration and testing as I talked about. I've learned a lot about that software, and we leverage that every single day. Adobe Target, as I mentioned that's a tool that gives us the ability to run A/B testing on the website. So if we want to serve ex experience 50% of the time versus why we are able to use that tool to do that, I use Adobe Analytics every day, using that to measure our web performance on what's happening on our website and what's working, what's not and where the opportunities are? Honestly, we use Excel a lot, so doing a lot of just manual kind of custom reporting or analysis that we want to do we will leverage excel to do all that. So whether that's just doing correlation analysis within Excel or doing just basic pivot tables and just basic reporting to understand what's happening, we do that. We do use SQL a lot, though that's a language that I use and my team uses it on a daily basis. So querying the database and understanding trends, actually what's happening within the business and then also building out reporting via Tableau on top of that, so Tableau is another tool that we use and that's really a visualization software for reporting. So any time we want to put like a report to our executives or senior leadership, whatever may be, we will use Tableau to do that. We do have a data science team here as well, so I'm not responsible for that group but we do work with them, and so they're using R and Python and those frameworks to do machine learning modeling and leveraging that within our business. So those were kind of the main ones and from a preference standpoint, I mean, I'm a big fan of what Adobe offers obviously, so I prefer their tooling, I'm very familiar with how to use it, that's obviously a nice thing to have, but other than that, I think everything's pretty straightforward, and I don't really have preferences one way or the other.

What things do you like about your job? Were there any pleasant surprises?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Marketing Technology, Progrexion
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Tue Feb 11 2020
The thing that I like the most is, I really like the people that I work with and like developing a team. So I really like kind of team building and being able to put an effective team together and have that responsibility and see people succeed that's really going to be a part of. The other thing that I really like about here, in particular, is that I feel like we're pretty innovative, we're trying to push the limits and our leadership supports that we want to have creative ideas and unique ideas and then be able to be empowered to go test and learn and understand what works and what doesn't. So being in that environment it is super fun, we are very analytics-driven, we're very data science-driven so just being a part of an organization that's focused on those things is really fun to be a part of. I've also been enabled to kind of have ideas on how the structure teams or organize different groups and what would make the most sense and I've been empowered to be able to do that so that's a lot of fun to be a part of and fun to have that trust. So it's been good from that standpoint, I've learned a lot. So obviously, I graduated back in 2012 like, eight years into my career, and I'm still in my learning mode, and so there's a lot of great people and a lot of things that I'm learning each day so that's fun to be a part of as well. I guess from a pleasant surprise standpoint, I think one of the things that I was surprised about is just, you can have a pretty big impact in an organization like early on, even if you feel like you're kind of early in your career but you're motivated, you're capable, you have the ability to think analytically, you follow up, you do what you say you're going to do, you prove that out like you can gain trust really quick, and you can then really have an impact more immediate than what you may have thought you could so that's something that was a pleasant surprise to me that I learned as I got into my career and figured out that, Hey, I don't need to take a back seat necessarily. Like, if I can prove all these things out, then I can go have an impact.

What are the job titles of people you routinely work with inside and outside of your organization? What approaches do you find to be effective in working with them?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Marketing Technology, Progrexion
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Tue Feb 11 2020
The titles of people within the company so my boss is the VP of marketing operations, obviously I am working with him a lot. So he's responsible for technology analytics and data science within the marketing department so that's kind of the group that he manages and runs, and so I'm a part of that. So I work a lot with, obviously with him and then my peers within that. So I work with our head of data science, our head of analytics, I work with those teams quite a bit. In other areas of the market, we work with our marketing channels. We have different channels within marketing that get our message out there and then get people to us so I work with our partnerships group a lot. I work with our SEO teams a lot. I work with kind of other groups within the marketing department, creative or creative teams that are doing like our ad creative and all of that. Then I work with our compliance and legal departments as well, so we have those departments to make sure what we're doing both like within our advertising as well as how we manage our websites are following the compliance and legal regulations of the industry. I work with our call center team, so there was a big call center business and so just understanding what the need of a customer is and how we can better collaborate and work together. So I worked with those groups a lot. I work with our IT department a lot as well, so any ah functional changes that we are trying to make to the website or any API's that we need to support different functionality. I work with RIT groups and developing what we need there and go and process. So that's kind of inside, I work with the finance department too. I kind of worked with a lot of different groups within the organization and honestly, like the approaches that I've found to be most effective is just kind of what I was talking about previously, so making sure you do what you're going to say you're going to do, building those relationships, building even personal relationships as well. So kind of building your internal network of people that you work well with internally and making sure that you value those relationships and foster those relationships and take care of those and care more about just caring about the job but actually caring about the individuals and their lives and what is important to them. I think that's something that's going to be most effective is really just focusing on those things and being a good partner with other areas. So outside of the organization, I work a lot with digital marketing agencies but we have agency support with some of the advertising that we do. So we work with them to execute on advertising and display a native channels, for example, or some of our social channels. I also work with technology partners as well, so we leverage some technology partners for the Adobe tools that we use, and so we work with them to execute on different initiatives there for their support with whatever the projects or whatever we're trying to accomplish.

What major challenges do you face in your job and how do you handle them? Can you discuss a few accomplishments?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Marketing Technology, Progrexion
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Tue Feb 11 2020
The challenges that we face are on the advertising side is just figuring out the best platforms and creative and messaging and everything that's going to work from a marketing perspective and then doing a really good job of doing the analysis and using analytics to determine what's working and what's not and what direction we should go so kind of just like that whole system just making sure that we're really burned up there, we make good decisions and how we're spending dollars. I mean, I manage a budget of 10 to 15 million dollars in marketing spend. So we've just got to be responsible with that and make sure we're making the proper decisions so that's one challenge. Another challenge is just on the technology side, we're trying to push the limits, we've been a call center based business forever. Since Progrexion been doing business within the credit repair space, and I really want to figure out a way how to transform us into more of digital business so how do we take what is traditionally been kind of a high touch call center based business, and transition that into more of an online digital focused business so that's one challenge. I think the way I handle them is just building really great teams, building kind of the proper analytics systems and the proper measurement systems and then making sure that we're leveraging the data to make decisions versus amino emotions or different things like that so just kind of making sure that we manage that way. Then the relationship-building is super important as well. So making sure that we have good relationships across the organization so that we can work together to accomplish some of these goals. So a few accomplishments, I think I would just highlight, being able to put this team together, being able to build a technology, infrastructure, and system that allows for rapid testing and the ability to push progression into more of digital business has been a great accomplishment. We've been doing it for about two years at this point and we're just continuing to grow and make a big change and drive great results so that has been a fun thing to be a part of.

What was the hiring process like for your job? What were the roles of people who interviewed you? What kind of questions were asked?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Marketing Technology, Progrexion
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Tue Feb 11 2020
So my hiring process, as I mentioned was unique here. I have relationships with people that were able to bring me on board. As I've been in the organization, I've been able to develop really good relationships, and that allowed me to move into the role that I'm currently in today. I would say that if you would interview, like for my team, for example, you would interview obviously with me, in my role, you'd interview with VP level, and sometimes you do even interview with our C level in certain cases. So the executive that's responsible for marketing and revenue and I would say like, what I'm looking for and the kind of questions I ask and that are important are things that I've mentioned, Are you analytical? Do you think from a data perspective? Are you able to make decisions? Are you able to set up tests and understand what's better and what's not? How to build strategy off of that? How to execute a strategy and how to think in those strategic ways? If I'm interviewing for a technical person then what type of technical background and tools and systems and languages do you have experience with? If I am interviewing for an ad-buying role, I want to know what platforms do you have experience there? Your experience with Google and Facebook and other platforms and how successful have you been executing marketing campaigns there. So just kind of focused on those types of things and obviously, we want to find good, solid people that are committed and are engaged and are going to add to the culture as well.

What qualities does your team look for while hiring? How does your team interview candidates?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Marketing Technology, Progrexion
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Tue Feb 11 2020
The qualities that I kind of hit on already, somebody that's technical, somebody that's analytical, somebody that has either proven experience of successfully executing on different marketing strategies and marketing campaigns. If it's somebody technical then what's their technical experience been? I'm actually okay with hiring very junior development positions just because I feel like we have a good training process here. So we're able to get people up to speed on kind of how we do web development versus maybe what they've done previously, or what they've learned in a boot camp or at school or whatever it may be. Then the way we interview them is we just go through typically, like the hiring manager and then senior leadership will interview them as well. We typically keep it to one on one interviews and very rarely do any panel-based interviewing or anything like that. If I'm the hiring manager then I focus more on details, more specifics on the role. If I'm responsible for the hiring manager then I allow them to go through that and then my position in the interview is really just to get them excited about what we're doing at Progrexion and get excited about the role and then make sure that they're going to be adding to the culture and they're going to be a good fit within the team.

What are some future career path(s) for you? What skills, certificates, or experiences do you plan on acquiring?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Marketing Technology, Progrexion
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Tue Feb 11 2020
I am more of a technical person that's more of my background and experience. But I've really enjoyed getting into more of the revenue side of the business and being responsible for the budget that I mentioned, understanding the finance processes, understanding how to successfully execute on revenue-based initiatives. I just want to continue to grow in that area. So future career paths for me could be, there are different roles you'll see, like Marketing CIO roles, my objective is to get to that senior kind of leadership role. I'm a leader right now, but I'd really like to get to that C level position at some point so I think the way the things that I'm doing now having a technical background, learning the revenue-generating skills, focusing on kind of the finance side, making sure that I understand measurement, profit, and loss, all those different aspects of the business will be just beneficial as I try to grow into an ultimate path that I'm looking for.

What are different entry-level jobs and subsequent job pathways that can lead students to a position such as yours?

Based on experience at: Senior Director, Marketing Technology, Progrexion
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Tue Feb 11 2020
Yes, I think anything within, like the project management or business analyst area, are good entry-level jobs. Getting in and really what those positions allow you to do is you learn different areas of the organization. So if you're managing projects that have multiple stakeholders in different departments then you learn those different areas as a part of that, if your business analyst, then you focus on not only the technical side, so you kind of learn the development and technical side but then you work very closely with the business to understand what they're trying to do and the requirements and making sure that you have that full end to end it knowledge and so those are really good places to start, in my opinion, just because you'll learn those different things and then you can understand what you like and what you like to be a part of and what's interesting to you and then you can start directing your career that way, just based of the broad learning that you do within both of those positions. So that's at least, obviously, that was the path and I took and so I'm somewhat biased but I felt like it added a lot of value for me just to be able to learn those different things, you also build a lot of good relationships there too throughout the organization. I think just that was very effective for me. So if somebody is looking to get in, I think those are really good places to start. I would mention like, even analyst positions, like a marketing analyst or a BI analyst, you'll see a lot of positions for that type of role, those are really good places to start to. It's kind of similar, you learn the underpinnings of the data, you learn how the data systems work but you also have to have like the business context to understand how you answer the questions that you're getting. If a business person is coming to you and say, I want to understand this, you've got to be able to fully take that in and understand what they're asking, and then you've got to know how to go pull that information out so I think those are good. Anytime you can get kind of the technical with the business perspective, that's super powerful for my position because anybody that's technical, can be successful in a lot of business functions as well, because really, like marketing today. Marketing is all technical and analytics, it's scientific, you still have the creative aspect and kind of the art to it, but the majority of it to be successful is you've got to have those hard skills, those technical skills.

What were the responsibilities and decisions that you handled at work? Discuss weekly hours you spent in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: Senior Project Manager, Discover Financial Services
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Tue Feb 11 2020
I did obviously project management work, and we supported our collections area of the business and so I helped manage a lot of the projects that the business was wanting to accomplish from a technology standpoint for that area of the business. I wasn't making decisions but I was responsible for the successful execution of the projects that were being requested from our business partners.  

What was the hiring process like for your job? What were the roles of people who interviewed you? What kind of questions were asked?

Based on experience at: Senior Project Manager, Discover Financial Services
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Tue Feb 11 2020
So I was an intern with them so I applied for the internship, interviewed with some of the managers of the project management groups there and once I got the internship then they hired me on full time for this role. The kind of questions I mean, at that point, it was mainly like, what was the process that I like to manage projects with? How did I think about managing stakeholders? How did I think about managing results? How do you negotiate with business partners to say, project management comes down to three things, it's time, scope and quality so how do you manage kind of those three points of a project and negotiate that with the business? Those are important things to understand as a project manager, so you can increase the scope, but that's going to increase the timeline and possibly decrease quality. You can reduce scope, and that's going to reduce time and possibly increase quality. You know, there are all these different levels that you can pull within that so, kind of being able to understand how to manage that was an important thing.

How did the program prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: Masters of Science, Information Systems, University of Utah
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Tue Feb 11 2020
So I think, I've mentioned this throughout this was obviously critical in what I've been able to accomplish up to this point. It prepared me from a standpoint of giving me some of tangible skills so learning about databases, learning about data analytics, learning about project management, learning about business analysts, learning about systems analysis and design, learning about basic Java programming like you get a good understanding of those technical skill sets that then help kind of navigate you to where you want to be in your career like it gives you a flavor of each of those things and you kind of understand what you like and what you feel like is going to be a good fit. Then, obviously I talked about the faculty, I've talked about the networking, the relationships and how that's led to the position that I'm in today, so obviously it's super important and super valuable, and it's something that I actually miss being a part of. I miss kind of that environment and the learning and just the energy that exists, that whole process like I miss being a part of that and it's something that I hope to either get back into at some point or be able to continue to learn in that type of way or whatever maybe it's something that I think about and try to figure out how at some point in the future, I can kind of navigate my way back into that environment.