"It is the ultimate luxury to combine passion and contribution. It's also a very clear path to happiness."
- Sheryl Sandberg
Tony Rivera works as a Project Manager at Gage and is the Vice President - Programming at the Minnesota chapter of the American Marketing Association (MN AMA). Before taking on the Project Manager role at Gage, he worked as an Engagement Manager there. Tony started his career while working on his B.A. in Sociology at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, as a Promotions Coordinator at Red Bull. He then took a position as Event Production Intern at The Mayer Company, clocking hours of experience on projects like One Man Minneapolis and The Ivey Awards. Tony then had a three-year sojourn at Paradysz a Relationship Manager and then a stint as an Account Executive at Macleod & Co.
What does a typical day in your role look like?
I would venture to say I do not have a typical day. I work as a Project Manager at Gage, an engagement marketing agency, servicing the Microsoft Educator Community and working on a platform like this no two days are the same.
One day I am working on the content strategy for the latest Microsoft educational content and the next I am working with our UX team to enhance how users connect with that content. I love that each day is a little different – it keeps me engaged and excited about what we do.
What are you passionate about?
For me, all roads lead to ‘connection’. In my time serving on the Board of Directors for the MN AMA, I have had the opportunity to meet amazing people and make really wonderful connections with incredibly smart marketers. I want others to have that opportunity as well.
I plan the MN AMA’s monthly programs and events and want to create an atmosphere for people that is fun and inviting, and maybe they will learn a little something too. I love helping people find their place in the industry here in the Twin Cities. There are so many opportunities, and there is room at the table for everyone so if I can help someone make a great professional connection, I will do it.
What do you find most challenging about your job/career?
The way we connect with and serve content to customers is constantly changing, and we need to remain agile. This is not some wise epiphany I have had, we all know it. I think I am the most challenged by staying on top of emerging media and staying current on the industry trends. I love that challenge, though.
I make an effort to sit down each week and read a handful of industry articles even if it is only for a few minutes. Whenever possible I try to parlay that information into my career and ask myself ‘How can I leverage what I’m learning to most effectively communicate with my client’s consumers.’
What do you find most enriching about your job/career?
My work with the Microsoft Educator Community has provided me with a professional and personal fulfillment that I truly enjoy. Not only am I able to work on a project that is fun but it’s also creating some good in the world. Providing free educational content to educators globally who would not have had access to this information otherwise is a great feeling.
These students can see how big the world actually is with live Skype interactions with expert speakers from around the world. It is helping to educate a new generation in a new way and create global citizens.
How did you find yourself in the career you currently hold?
Honestly, by complete accident. At one point in my life, I wanted to be a lawyer but later in my college career I decided marketing was where I belonged (I think my parents secretly hope I end up going to law school eventually).
Marketing is such a broad term, and I have had the opportunity to test out several facets of it. I have done media planning, traditional account work, social media and community management and now content and creative strategy. I think working in several different types of marketing has allowed me to discover what I am truly passionate about. If you find your passion, the great work will follow.
Words of advice for anyone who wants to pursue this career?
Network, network, network. I honestly believe I have gotten where I am because of the people I have surrounded myself with. And I’m not talking about adding a bunch of strangers on LinkedIn, I mean get out and meet people. Ask people to coffee or happy hour and pick their brains. You do not need come with a list of million questions, just get to know them. Go to marketing and advertising networking events and make new friends. It is scary and challenging but in the long run; it is worth it.
To learn more about Tony Rivera, click here!
Thanks for reading!