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KATIE BARRACO

NYU, '11

Unlike many MBI managers, who are hired right out of school, Katie Barraco had almost five years of experience under her belt after graduating.  “I interned and worked at different jobs in the music industry, then started my own artist management agency.  I also worked as Marketing Director at Growthink, a small business planning firm, and then helped launch their subsidiary division, Guiding Metrics.  I was VP of Product Development there and managed a team of account managers and developers that built business dashboards for small businesses.”

Despite these impressive achievements, she was looking for something a bit different.  “I’d enjoyed working at small businesses, but I needed more room to grow and more opportunities. From my previous jobs, I’d gained a strong interest in marketing and also enjoyed my management experience—so the ideal role would be a combination of both.” But, with one caveat: “I also wanted a role where I could make an impact, and have a wide range of responsibilities rather than do the same thing every day.”

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After first learning about MBI on Indeed.com, she looked into the company further and found out about the Product Manager role.  “The thing that most appealed to me from the description was the high level of responsibility given to managers, as well as the cross-functional role.”

Throughout the hiring process, Katie found MBI to be as advertised.  She notes that while interviewing, “The position was portrayed very similarly to the description I’d read on the website.  I could also tell that everyone I met with really enjoyed working there and were excited to show me projects they had worked on.”

Katie did wonder how MBI would live up to its self-described “entrepreneurial” mindset.  “Having come from a small business background, I was curious how a relatively larger company that had been around for so many years could continue to foster ‘entrepreneurship.’”  But since being hired, she found that “the flat organizational structure and ‘open door policy’ that MBI describes really is an integral part of the company’s culture, and there’s a lot of opportunity to share new ideas and suggestions.”

Katie began in PCS managing coin and stamp programs.  “I remember being told that there was a steep learning curve and the first couple of months would be especially challenging.  While there was definitely a lot to take in, I found the orientation helpful and was especially impressed by everyone’s expertise in their roles and willingness to answer my questions along the way.”  Exemplifying the corporate culture, “I’ve really gotten a great deal of insight from working alongside people in a wide range of roles throughout the building—from the newest employees, to those who have been at the company for 20 or 30 years.”

Katie’s small business experience was invaluable.  “Much of my previous work involved multi-tasking, handling a wide range of responsibilities and being ready to drop everything to tackle any ‘surprises’ that would come up.  This definitely helped prepare me for the cross-functional role at MBI, especially when it came to managing so many different products and projects.  The job requires you to think both ‘creatively’—such as designing new products, marketing packages and ads—and strategically at the same time.  Many of our creative decisions are also very much data-driven.”

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Katie is currently responsible for about 75 wide-ranging products: coin and stamp programs in PCS; personalized books at Easton Press; and a variety of Davis & Towne products (including handbags, personalized goods and luggage).  “Every day is different—but much of what I do for these involves preparing for upcoming marketing in addition to developing new products.  One of my biggest focuses right now is Davis & Towne. I just started managing these products a few months ago, and while I initially had to get up to speed on already-existing products, I’ve lately been working on developing new ones and planning their marketing efforts.”

She has clearly embraced the latest technology.  “For the past year, in addition to managing products, my team has also been responsible for the digital efforts in PCS, Easton Press and Davis & Towne.”  This mostly includes Facebook advertising and e-mail marketing, in addition to general website responsibilities and improvements.  “I like that this gives me a chance to collaborate more with other managers to help promote their products digitally. Even though much of MBI’s marketing is still through direct mail, it’s been very exciting to see our digital efforts—especially Facebook—grow each year.”

Asked to identify the most rewarding aspects of her job at MBI, Katie replies, “I’m always kept on my toes—even though I’ve been here for nearly two years, I still feel that I’m always learning something new, and have a wide range of opportunities. I also like being able to see the results of what I do and how I’ve made an impact.  When I’ve worked to develop a new product, it’s inspiring to finally be able to hold that finished product in my hands. And after one of my programs has marketed, I like being able to see the final results and how our customers have responded to it.”

In the final analysis, says Katie, “the wide range of products and responsibilities ensures that I never feel bored in my role,” and her life is just as multifaceted outside of the office.  Befitting one who was a Music Business major at New York University, with business courses at the Stern School of Business and music industry/performance courses at NYU’s conservatory, she is also a guitarist.  Katie, who lives on an alpaca farm, enjoys photography and traveling, and also enjoys attending MBI’s company Happy Hours and 5K’s.