Alumni Profile: Chris Madden, MBA 2006

 
 

Chris Madden         

Entrepreneurship concentration

Current Employer: Matchnode Digital Marketing

Industry/Field of Work: Start-Ups

Undergraduate Degree: Spanish/English

Undergraduate School: Georgetown University

Organizations involved with: Beta Gamma Sigma

 
 
What prompted you to join UIC Liautaud to earn your graduate business degree?
After a liberal arts undergrad and running my own business for 3 years, I wanted to have a solid foundation in business disciplines like accounting, management, finance, and marketing theory. UIC was the best value, best location, and direct route for me.
 
For prospective students thinking about a career change, what best practice advice would you give?
I had the most success when going “unconventional” routes the followed my entrepreneurial drive. So,
rather than considering taking a job that wasn’t right whether due to pay, location, or level of interest in the
work, I found creative ways that both earned income, sharpened my internet marketing toolbox, and
extended my professional network. One of the primary platforms where I did this was on odesk, and
having an MBA definitely set me apart from other agencies and contractors on that platform.
 
What kinds of skills are in really high demand right now in your field? And as a follow on, are you seeing
any hiring trends?
People who can adapt, learn, and have a good consistent attitude. Anyone who can look at data and use it
to tell a story, and relatedly, anyone who enjoys balancing creative (making ads, writing copy, developing
strategy) with analytical points is of interest to us. Specifically, being Google Adwords certified, knowing
SEO,a nd spending A LOT of time in facebook Power Editor are skills that give candidates a leg up when
we are looking to hire (like right now!).
 
The UIC campus has a very strategic location next to the financial and downtown business district. Are
there any off campus networking clubs or professional networking organizations that you feel students
should join?
For me, the most useful networking I do is specific to my industry: so startups and marketing. Some
events / locations that have been worthwhile: Technori Pitch, events at 1871, Chicago Ideas Week, wine
web at Orbit Media, and marketing meetups generally have all been good. Volunteering for one of those
events / organizations can be that start of a deeper relationship that pays off down the road. I have always
found that giving first a relationship without expecting anything in return is the best approach, so find a
charity, nonprofit, or other cause that resonates with you and get involved.
 
Do you have any advice for students about personal branding and managing their online presence?
Be yourself (hopefully that includes not taking yourself too seriously) but be smart: try to imagine the
following 3 people’s reaction to any public post: the hiring manager from your best case scenario
future job, your best friend, and your mother.
 
How do you prepare for a job interview? What kind of research do you do ahead of time?
Apart from being an active listener during the interview, I try to learn as much as I can about who is going
to be in the interview (or meeting) and then trying to connect my answers to making their jobs easier.
 
What have you learned while you were at UIC Liautaud that still helps you today in your personal or
professional life?
I found reinforcement that the entrepreneurial path was right for me (this was before the current boom in
VC-style consumer-facing web apps, now known as “tech entrepreneurship”), and I had professors and
classes that gave me tools I still use today: marketing, accounting, finance, management, all with highly
entrepreneurial applications.
 
What’s next for you?
I am at the very front end of building infrastructure and capacity at Matchnode to create the people and
systems we need to service a large market: small and medium sized businesses who have a solid foundation
but do not have the expertise to grow their business on the internet. So, it’s a constant juggling act of
executing campaigns for clients, building our internal infrastructure, and responding to new business
inquiries