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Interview with VP of Marketing, Connections Tutoring

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in that field?

My job title is VP of Marketing of Connections Tutoring. I have been at this particular position for 4 years, and marketing in general for 10. I started at the accounting firm KPMG, then went from Fortune 500 to small business as Marketing Manager for a small west coast fast food franchiser called Yellowdog. They unfortunately went under (not my fault!) and I found a job at Connections Tutoring, which is the most satisfying of any of my employment yet.

Would you describe the things you do on a typical day?

I am in charge of the marketing efforts of a 5 person team, each with a specific marketing function: Direct Sales, Public School Acquisition, Private School Acquisition, Online Marketing, and Public Relations and Administration. Each of these 5 people are in charge of a 4-6 person team. I report directly to the CEO.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What would it take to increase that rating?

10, absolutely. Everything is great. This company was started with the best of intentions 15 years ago, and they maintain that same integrity now, even though the founder has taken himself out of the day to day operations. So many students are helped who otherwise would not be.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and how did that happen?

Public schools are awful and there is nothing that can be done about it except at a bureaucratic level. Many poor schools were red taped out of free services from our company because of some shady politics which I really can't get into here. If people can not afford private schooling, the best option is a tutor. Do not allow public schools to be solely responsible for the education of your child.

What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?

Negotiation is about people having respect for you and liking you. They will deal with you if they like you. They will give you a good deal if they respect you.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

I have always had a talent for building up the ideas of others. I could never come up with any on my own, so marketing was just a natural fit! I was the guy yelling about the lemonade stand when I was 6 bringing in customers, but if you asked me to think of having one in the summer, I would think you were speaking German!

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

I had a parent pull a child from one of our tutors because he explained a geometry problem using an analogy of a Cross. It was just the first thing that came to mind, but the parent thought that our guy was trying to proselytize to the kid. They tried to SUE us!

On a good day when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?

Seeing how many children are truly helped by our exciting and brilliant tutors. Children WANT to learn from us. The turnaround stories are the best - when a parent calls us up telling us that little Johnny has completely changed his behavior and academic performance in school.

When nothing seems to go right, what kind of snafus do you handle and what do you dislike the most?

I am usually putting out some fire with our relations with the public schools. Keeping their administration happy is a chore to say the least, and they simply do not have the resources that they need to really fix things.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?

The job is certainly stressful, because parents trust us with the lives of their kids, basically. I really don't need vacations persay, because I love the job so much. I do take time for my family and my own kids, however. I'm there for them, but I'm basically on call, especially during the school year.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?

A rough range for managing 20 people in a highly successful midsize company would be anywhere from $90K to $125K, depending on benefits. I am at the high range of this with great benefits, so I'm definitely happy.

What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?

One kid needed to pass math in order to be allowed to participate in a tennis tournament that would provide her with a scholarship. Her family was in poverty and we think that she was also abused. Well, long story short, she did it, won the tournament, and got the scholarship.

What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced? What would you prefer to forget?

I got into a shouting match with LAUSD officials who will not be named here in front of parents. Most of them congratulated me for my passion; however, I did not like that they were able to basically destroy my negotiating mindset. They were being incredibly closed minded, however.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

You should be a people person and have a college degree in business, not necessarily in marketing. Having an MBA helps if you want a corporate position and you don't know people personally. Some of the top companies even require it. Try to get a first job that pays for the MBA. This day in age, it also helps to know a couple of photo, audio, and video editing programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, Pro Tools, and Premeire.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

Find a company with an idea that you believe in. Don't sell lies. Your soul is more important than a dollar. If you think that you will never find a job, you are simply looking in the wrong place. Do not be afraid to change cities or work online. So many more things are possible than when I began.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

I take most of my vacation during the academic summer months. Is it enough? I want less. I love what I do! I do not take vacations at all during the academic school year, at least so far. My wife is starting to make noises.

Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

Marketers are not all bad, and we are not all liars. Even the corporate guys. Many of them have just lost sight of what really matters. So don't believe everything they say, but give people the benefit of the doubt.

Does this job move your heart? If not, what does?

This job absolutely moves my heart. So does my wife, my kids, and snowboarding.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

If I could write my own ticket, I think I would work from home instead of at the office, but I think I would be doing the same thing, honestly. I really feel like I am contributing to society and fighting for the education of our children.