Fast Track, International Impact
During her junior year at Kent State, Brianne Kimmel, ’11, spontaneously booked a two-week trip to Australia to visit a friend who was interning at a public relations agency in Sydney. She took advantage of her time there by attending networking events and connecting with professionals. That experience fueled a dream of living abroad that stayed with her until graduation.
“As I was getting ready to graduate from Kent State, I started getting offer letters from advertising and PR agencies in Boston, NYC and some local agencies in Cleveland. But for some reason, I kept going back to my desire to live overseas,” Kimmel said. “So, I took a big risk and moved to Sydney without a job.”
Within two weeks she found a position as a digital strategist for Nikon at a boutique digital agency. She initially planned on staying in Sydney for only three months, but she ended up living there for almost four-and-a-half years. Kimmel now leads growth marketing at Zendesk, a customer support software company based in San Francisco, which serves some of the most well-known international startups including Uber, Airbnb and Dropbox. Kimmel was recognized for her early career achievements with the JMC Fast-Track Award at an awards ceremony on Sept. 22, 2017.
“The best advice I can give to any recent grad is (to) move to the biggest city you can handle,” she said. “When you’re early in your career, it’s important to be surrounded by people who challenge your thinking.”
Kimmel majored in advertising at Kent State. One of the most rewarding aspects of her career so far, she said, has been her transition from marketing to more technical roles. The tech industry allows her to be both creative and analytical.
“People will oftentimes say you’re either creative or analytical, but it turns out in tech you need to be both,” she said. “I remember passing notes in math class and skipping my computer science class at Kent State. Now, most of my day is spent planning, forecasting and running database queries.”
Kimmel is currently focusing on the Zendesk for Startups program, to help startup companies build better relationships with their customers.
“A huge part of (my) role is building relationships with startup incubators around the world such as Y Combinator in Silicon Valley, Station F in Paris and Akron Global Business Accelerator,” Kimmel said. “I work closely with our most successful startups ... to share their success stories with new, high-growth startups.”
Prior to Zendesk, Kimmel led performance marketing efforts at Expedia. Outside of work, she advises tech startups and recently launched an ongoing “tech world tour” in Sydney, Vienna and Paris, meeting and coaching international startups. Living and working in Silicon Valley, she said her career and personal life often overlap, and she has built a strong network of like-minded friends and colleagues.
“As you become more specialized in your field, your circle gets smaller and more tight-knit,” she said. “If I’m thinking through a complex problem at work, I have a network of people at other companies who are willing to share insights and brainstorm solutions.”
Kimmel has strived for consistent progress in her career by setting goals and creating a solid community that holds her accountable. She said she is honored to receive the Fast-Track Award and has encouraging words for JMC students and alumni.
“I have always viewed life as a story. When it comes to your career path, you’re the only one who can write the story,” she said. “You’ll have people that help you along the way, but it’s up to you to decide what mark you want to leave on the world.”