In 2006, I made a very difficult decision.
No, I’m not talking about when I got married (if anyone knows my wife, that decision is a no-brainer). Rather, I decided to give up the lawyer career path. Did I just waste my law school education? Dare I even think about all the money, time and energy spent? What was I going to do with my life?
I joined a stealth startup. At first, I was hired to help with the legalities of the emerging business. Very soon after, I took ownership of the marketing aspects of the company. This experience confirmed my passion: creating content that attracted thousands of visitors. I also experimented with graphic design for my first time and instantly fell in love with creative software applications. Unfortunately, the company failed to launch its product within its first year and I ultimately stepped down to pursue another career opportunity.
In 2007, I joined MNW, the 8th largest accounting firm in California.
Accounting marketing is different from product marketing – rather than promoting tangible goods, I’m selling people – 27 executives (we call them ‘partners’). This role required you to build professional relationships, pay attention to how they prefer to market themselves, and research what they specialize in – only then could you successfully build a marketing communications strategy that fits each partner’s personality. Consequently, my first year was mostly dedicated to composing and graphically designing the firm’s entire arsenal of marketing collateral – brochures, one-pagers, white papers, email newsletters, online promotion landing pages and business development visual aids.
In 2008, I launched my first internal marketing campaign.
The goal was for MNW to be recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in the Bay Area by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. This was an important challenge for me as the firm’s competition won this prestigious award in 2007 and MNW did not. I collaborated with the CEO and the firm’s department leaders to implement multi-tier marketing campaigns for all 175 employees. By composing speeches, coordinating internal team building events, and distributing graphically designed communications, I helped transform the firm’s perspective on its traditional methods of messaging. The results went beyond the firm’s expectations, as MNW was not only recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in the Bay Area in 2008, but also 2009 and 2010.
In 2009, my career hit its highest point at MNW.
The firm gave me the green light to establish its corporate thought leadership blog which required collaboration with the firm’s all-star experts. Such an effort was unprecedented – most accountants tend to work on his or her own – so to create a cross-departmental team was experimental. No one knew if it would work but we all recognized this would be a huge investment of time and energy. After its first year, the team published over 80 articles that resulted in an increase of web site traffic by over 150% every month compared to the previous 12 months; we also gained over 2,500 subscribers in our first year. These accomplishments also created something the firm never experienced before: synergy across service departments. As our firm’s online presence grew, this team attracted more prospects, discovered cross-selling opportunities and gained more respect throughout the firm.
In 2010, MNW’s marketing budget and staff significantly increased.
As a result, I was encouraged to spend more time pursuing my passion in marketing communications designs. My collateral, poster designs and web pages evolved with more advanced features and I thoroughly enjoyed the learning process. The MNW Marketing Team also created a systematic business intelligence gathering process that delivered analytical reports of targeted prospects that directly supported the firm’s practice development efforts.
Overall, the past 5 years were full of uncertainty and were never easy.
Turning my back on a lucrative career as a lawyer raised several red flags and caused my family to worry. But the past 5 years were also filled with enormous personal and professional growth that introduced me to amazing, talented individuals who I gladly refer to as friends. They bring out my best and I’m truly grateful. All of this experience has brought me to this upcoming opportunity.
This July 2011, I’ll be the Internal Communications Manager for VMware.
I’ve already met several VMware folks who I will be collaborating with. Their past work experience and the accomplishments they’ve had at VMware are truly inspiring. If I never went to law school, I would have definitely wanted to follow in their footsteps. Without a doubt, the near future looks very bright.