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Sharon Chai (IMC14)

Regional Manager of Marketing Technology and Operations at Uber
sharon-chai

Sharon Chai has applied her integrated marketing communications master’s degree to a wide variety of industries — to healthcare as a senior data analyst for CVS; to retail as an analytics lead for Athleta; and now to technology as the regional manager of marketing and technology operations at Uber.

Her reputation as a driven, socially conscious leader has earned her extensive accolades. Recently, she earned a spot on the “Girls in Tech Taiwan 40 Under 40” list. She credits Medill for giving her the personal and professional qualities she needed to thrive in global marketing.

Tell us about your career journey.

I have pivoted my career two times, first from public relations to marketing science, and then most recently to marketing technology, operations and program management.

After graduating as an English literature major, I started out in public relations working for two agencies. We partnered with international companies to maximize their brand perceptions, build influencer programs and drive business-to-business and business-to-consumer product adoptions.

Attracted to the Big Data trend and eager to step out of my comfort zone, I came to Medill IMC to explore analytics and statistics. Since graduating from Medill, I have been in the realm of marketing analytics and marketing science, enabling teams to use technology to measure marketing effectiveness and drive strong strategies.

My long-term dream is to leverage the art and science of marketing to contribute to social enterprises and nonprofit organizations. I got to where I am mainly because I am adaptable and courageous, and I love inspiring and empowering others.

What are your main responsibilities at Uber?

I work with marketing, data science, operations, product and engineering functions. I spend my days resolving data issues, problem solving, driving resource prioritization and alignment, managing stakeholder expectations and timelines, articulating risks and opportunities and influencing without authority.

How did the Medill IMC program prepare you for your job?

Medill IMC offered me a strong foundation in statistics and database management that supports me working in tech. I also learned how to incorporate planning processes and actionable insights together to drive customer-centric and data-driven marketing. In addition, the variety of courses offered at IMC gave me a balance of skills that has allowed me to be adaptable in my career and has set me up for success in facing the evolving needs of diverse companies such as CVS, Athleta and Uber.

How do you apply the IMC way of thinking that uses both art and science in your job?

I encourage teams to set up measurable goals, define what and how to measure success, and tie the marketing results to financial impact. This all gets blended with the art of communications and qualitative research on what resonates with consumers.

How did the Medill IMC and Northwestern network help you in your job search?

Medill and Northwestern have helped along the way as I have changed jobs. I reach out to graduates and professors periodically and get a lot of valuable advice on career path and working through difficult conversations. I am also glad to share my experiences with others from Medill.

What advice would you give to someone considering IMC?

If you are unsure about going toward the art side or the science side of marketing, or you are still exploring what you can accomplish with marketing, Medill IMC is great place to discover what's out there. Keep your options open, and try something that you haven't done before. Lastly, connect with Medill IMC alumni to learn about their experience.

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