Employee Spotlight: From Math Teacher to Digital Marketing Student

March 4, 2016 — by Alex Kuwada

For almost two years, I spent my professional life teaching mathematics and coaching the boys’ soccer and basketball teams at a boarding school in Maryland. Last summer, I left the education field and entered the ad tech space, and now work at MediaMath headquarters in New York City as a Specialist for the Programmatic Strategy and Optimization team.

This may seem like an odd transition to some, but the move made perfect sense to me.

My good friend Dan Wissinger from college (who happens to be my current roommate and works on the Product team) told me about the Marketing Engineer Program — a three-month digital marketing training program offered by the New Marketing Institute at MediaMath — and thought I’d make a great fit. He was right.

The program exposed me to various professional development opportunities where I got to work on different digital marketing campaigns, get trained on the TerminalOne Marketing OS platform and work with clients. It was the client engagement component  that allowed me to put my interpersonal skills, honed during my teaching career, to good use. I soon realized that I was drawn toward the Platforms Solutions team at MediaMath, which deals directly with clients and helps them strategize and optimize their advertising campaigns.

Now, talking with individuals who run digital marketing strategies every day is definitely different from dealing with dozens of teenage boys. But odd as it may seem, there’s nothing more that could have prepared me to work for client services than my role teaching at a boarding school. Both my analyst and teacher roles require interaction and communication with a wide variety of people — from headmasters, parents and students to CMOs from a wide range of industries and digital heads at agencies. What I loved about the school at which I taught was its history and the core values — not unlike my current company’s “Math Values.” But unlike the eight-year-old MediaMath, my school, great as it was, did not allow much opportunity for me to innovate given it was such a long-established, fixed structure. Towards the end of my last school year, I knew I was ready to be somewhere more dynamic, both in geography and skill set, that allowed me to grow within an evolving industry.

With my love for learning, the marketing world has challenged me to react and respond faster than an advertising pixel loads on a website page. It’s a totally different classroom in terms of the unpredictability of my day-to-day, whereas at school, everything was somewhat foreseeable. Now, instead of me telling a kid how to solve a math equation, I’m the one asking the questions. Each day brings a new learning, and I imagine that will continue even as I get more acquainted to my transition from advisor to the adolescents to specialist to the advertisers.