IT Alumna Uses Skills to Create the Ultimate Marketing Experience

shaylaperryShayla Perry’s (B.S. ’02) day-to-day working as a Experiential Event Manager may include coordinating with celebrity chefs and organizations like the PGA tour, but she still remembers her roots as an IT student at the School of Information.

“I initially was a Management Information Systems major because I loved computers, but I also had a passion for all things communication – media and marketing.”

Like many professionals before her, Perry’s career path was not a straight shot from Florida State University to her current position as an Experiential Event Manager. She had to pivot and navigate a job market in the throes of the dot com bust.

“Most companies were no longer hiring entry-level graduates with no experience. That left me with two options – grad school or find a job with the hopes of transitioning into an IT position. I decided to hit the pavement and find an opportunity that could open the IT door for me.”

Perry’s willingness to put herself out there would ultimately provide her the opportunity that would spark the experiential marketing chapter of her career.

After working as a staff contractor at several law and utility firms throughout South Florida, Perry accepted a position with the American Red Cross.

“I befriended the IT Director as I still had hopes of landing an IT position.  However, working in IT was not the career plan that was destined for me.”

Her work at the American Red Cross attracted the attention of the organization’s Director of Development, who offered her a position as the agency’s Special Events Specialist.

“He told me that he was impressed with my work style and felt that I had what it took for a career in events. Well, needless to say, I took the position and 12 years later, I am a senior events manager for one of the most recognized brands in the world.”

Today, Perry is an Experiential Event Manager for Octagon – a Sports and Entertainment focused marketing agency. Her work involves coordinating high-end lifestyle events for BMW North America.

“My friends and family like to say I ‘plan parties,’ but I work with brands like Saks Fifth Avenue, The Masters, and the PGA Tour, to provide current and prospective BMW owners with the Ultimate Driving Experience.”

Despite the challenging start, Perry’s transition from IT to marketing exemplifies the often-winding path that careers can take. In fact, her IT degree has equipped her to deal with the increasingly data-driven field of marketing.

“As a marketer, I use databases to collect, analyze and distribute customer data, and use algorithms to determine client behavior. There’s also the side benefit of never having to wait for IT to fix a computer issue, I can usually figure it out on my own!”

Perry credits her time at FSU with the mentality she brings to her work today, and she has some advice for students getting ready to tackle the job market.

“Dig deeper. Find out the why, when, and how of it all.  Never settle for mediocrity. Strive to be your best. Be a lifelong learner. Accept all challenges as an opportunity to learn more. These lessons have been integral for my personal and professional growth.”