In this special bonus episode of Programmatic Untangled, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Yamaguchi, NMI’s Director of Program Development who founded the very successful Marketing Engineer Program (MEP) here at MediaMath. In the three years since the program launched, we have seen cohorts thrive at our headquarters in New York, as well as in London, Berlin, and Sao Paulo.
Joining Adam on the podcast was a recent graduate of the program, David Khalev, who told us about his experience with the program and his plans for the future.
Here are a few highlights from the episode:
Michelle: Where did the idea for the program start?
Adam: The idea was let’s create a program where we can set people up to be successful, have them learn from people who are subject matter experts within the industry, and then send them out to go about and find jobs afterwards. So really kind of a — or what it’s evolved into, at least, is a career accelerator within digital marketing and programmatic.
Michelle: We have a lot of varied backgrounds in any given cohort. How do you pick out which candidates will be successful in a program like this?
Adam: I think one of the great things about MEP, one of the things I particularly love is that we do have folks who have incredibly diverse backgrounds, and you know, I believe and we believe, within MediaMath and NMI, if you give people the right tools, anybody can be successful. I think that’s what MEP is a perfect example of. Folks in the program come from all different work and educational experience. And I don’t think it matters so much where you come from. I think there are certain things and certain indicators of success, as you mentioned, and a couple of those are folks who do like digging into data, who are somewhat quantitative and analytical, as there is a lot of that in the program.
That is one thing that I think a lot of participants who go through and do well certainly have. But also other things, like an insatiable appetite for learning. It’s a lot to learn, and it is immersive. When I say that, it truly is. It’s sometimes being fed from a fire hose. So you have to want to learn, right? That’s a big thing. I think you want to have that insatiable appetite. You want to be really passionate about what it is that we’re doing, because it is immersive, so if you don’t really love it, it’d be hard to stay engaged.
Strong communication is also a big one. It’s very collaborative and is very much about working with people. So being able to communicate effectively and work well with others is all about how you interact and build relationships.
Michelle: David, can you tell me about your experience as a MEP?
David: My experience has only been positive here. Everybody is a great resource to you all throughout the company. Whatever projects or trainings or shadowing that we’re involved in, we’re always supported by, wonderful, intelligent people here, that always know how to make an impact.
And another thing that I really enjoy about the program is the partner visits, for sure. Being able to invite innovative companies into our office and just see what they have going on, what they have planned for the future, how they’re adapting to a changing industry. And then going to partners’ offices and seeing how other companies in this space just function day-to-day.
We’re all different, we’re all innovative. And it’s been really interesting and rewarding.
Michelle: I know that it started here in New York, but we are also expanding all over the globe. Can you tell me how we’ve launched that and how it’s working?
Adam: In New York, we launched in June of 2014, and then soon after that, in the summer of 2015, we launched in London, which is another big hub for MediaMath. I think the same kind of roles and problems apply just about everywhere, right? Around the world. And that there is this dearth of, of talent. And we recognized that. And wanted to see, how can we bring this to other locations?
London was the first way that we did that, and we’ve run, I believe, now, uh, four programs, three or four programs in London. Boy, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of, I should know that. In that time, we have launched one in Sao Paolo in Brazil, which was great to be able to bring that there, where, again, there is a huge demand for talent out there.
Just this past year in March, we launched in Berlin, have a program there. It’s exciting to see this grow. I wouldn’t have ever expected that when I started. Because people really do need this training. And, and you know, more on the horizon too, I think looking at where we can continue to bring this, even regionally here within North America?
As there’s a lot of different cities where I think there could be a huge benefit as well. And then also to other regions too. So looking in that and seeing, where in the future we can run another program.
Michelle: Can you tell me about the relationships you’ve made with your fellow cohort and how you guys have been working together?
David: I can honestly say that I’ve made friends for life here. These people that I’m working with in the cohort are among the most ambitious and intelligent people that I’ve had the pleasure to work with and to learn with. Apart from seeing each other every day for three months and spending a large majority of our time in one conference room, we also get together outside of the program. I know even some of us from the program are going to be living together in the future.
Michelle: Oh, wow.
David: Yeah, so —
David: Yeah, MEP roommates.
Michelle: That’s so cool.
David: I’m really thankful for the amount of energy and the amount of passion that everybody’s put into developing themselves within the program, and then helping develop others as well.
I’d like to personally wish the sixth MEP cohort with the best luck as they go out into the world! To anybody who is interested in the program, please visit the NMI site to learn more and apply for our August rotation in New York.
You can listen to the full interview on Programmatic Untangled (podcast) here.
In case you missed last week’s blog post, NMI will be releasing a series of microlearning videos that the MEPs found helpful in their learning process. These videos were produced with NMI’s microlearning partner Grovo to take programmatic concepts and break them down into bite-sized videos. Catch the first video in the series on the blog here.