Women's Network

Chicago Booth Alumni Special Interest Group

Terri Lyon, '05

Meet Chicago Booth alumna Terri Lydon, '05, whose career in marketing has spanned from traditional corporations to start-ups. Her love of the dynamic atmosphere at new and growing businesses led to her current role at PromoAid. She also values the time it gives her with her family. Here Terri answers a few questions for CWIBAN about her experiences.

Q: What was your background before coming to Booth?

Immediately after college, I was hired by NAVTEQ (then Navigation Technologies, now a part of Nokia) in Industry Relations. It was a smaller company, on the cutting edge of developing navigable maps based on GPS. It was a very exciting time to be in that industry, and I loved the ever-changing dynamic of my job and the company. After 2 years, I became one of the inaugural members of the marketing team. Working with outside agencies reignited my desire to work in a more marketing-oriented atmosphere, so I made the move to work in advertising.

I took a job as an account executive at a small agency and got to work on accounts like the YMCA, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Chicago White Sox, and Advocate Health Care. Working in advertising was a great way to learn about developing a marketing strategy to leverage how different consumers think and interact with brands, which led me back full circle to wanting to have a brand to own. In order to fully understand brand management, and to round out my education with the financial and quantification assets needed to be a successful brand manager, I knew I needed to get my MBA from the top financial and leading marketing school.

Q: Why did you choose Chicago Booth? What did you get out of the experience?

I chose Booth because my background was focused in marketing – my undergraduate degree and entire resume was all centered in marketing and "soft" skills. To prove myself and my quant skills to potential employers, to myself, and to any future investors, there was no better choice than Booth. I was honestly nervous when I started, and was not sure about taking classes like Econ and Investments at this world-renowned institution. But then I met the professors. Incredible. I still prefer the "softer" side of things, but thanks to my time at Booth I am comfortable and confident putting on my quant jock hat.

Q: Where did you head after graduation from Booth? Tell us about how your career progressed and how you got to where you are now.

While at Booth, I interned at Kraft and accepted a full time position upon graduation. I had never worked at an established company, and felt it was important to continue my education by utilizing all I had learned at Booth in a formal brand management position. When deciding where to go post-Kraft, I examined my experiences prior to, at, and post Booth. It became clear to me what I like and what I wanted to do. I like the ever-changing, fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants atmosphere of a start-up or small organization. That is where I thrive. And, now I was equipped to introduce structure and discipline into that kind of environment. So that was my next move – I joined a start-up called PromoAid and was the 2nd employee back in 2008.

Q: Introduce us to what you do every day. What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day is different, and that's how I like it. At a small company, there are no set roles. Yes, there are job descriptions written down, but there are also hundreds of things to get done that don't fall under anyone's specific function. And we get them done. Let's take yesterday – I revised the website to reflect a new service we're launching, edited a press release, word-smithed a couple of emails for our CEO, reported a broken door to our building management, and conducted the 3rd quarter review of our database manager to ensure he's on track to reach his annual goals. And, last Friday my day looked completely different.

Q: How does your work impact your personal life? What would you like to share about your home life and interests?

Home life is very important to me. I am married with 2 kids, and I want to see my family as much as possible, every day. Being at a start-up and now early-stage company, I have the flexibility to be home for breakfast in the morning and also be home in the evenings with my kids. Of course there are downsides (lower pay, lack of stability, working later at night if needed) but these are far outweighed by the benefits.

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