Alumni Spotlight: Kevin Kim

FINANCE – This spotlight series features T. Howard Foundation (THF) alumni working in Finance or Financial Services. Alumni working in roles traditionally associated with this industry as well as in marketing roles will be highlighted.

Kevin Kim (THF ‘17)

Please describe your role.

I’m an Associate Analyst on the Global Brand Strategy, Experience & Design team at Mastercard. In my role, I plan and implement the Sonic Branding Strategy while working with creative agencies to produce various guides and training videos on our different brand ingredients. I also train our agencies and internal marketing folk on our Brand Expression to drive consistency in all of our marketing & communication efforts.

What do you enjoy most about your company?

Mastercard is a company that has significantly evolved over the past few years. It has grown from a “credit card company” to a technology company in the payments space. As a strategist, it has been exciting to see and be part of the change.

Being at global company, I’m able to interact with subject matter experts from all around the world. It’s amazing to be able to work with people who come from such interesting and diverse backgrounds.

In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?

I’ve always enjoyed connecting with people, and marketing allows me to do that. Although many different prongs fall under the marketing umbrella, I believe that the primary purpose of all marketing is to establish relevance and a connection with your audience.

I got started by applying to different foundations that matched students with internships in the Marketing and Communications industry. Through the T. Howard Foundation, I was placed at McCann Worldgroup as a Talent Acquisition/Diversity & Inclusion Intern. I used the skills and connections I made there to leverage an internship at Warner Media in Strategic Programming/Multi-Platforming. It took several more internships and a lot of networking to land my first marketing gig, which was at Mastercard as a Global Digital Marketing Intern.

How has your affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced your career?

I have the T. Howard Foundation to thank for my first internship in the Marketing and Communications industry. Although it was not a marketing role, I learned a lot of the skills I needed to be successful by being at one of top advertising agencies in the industry.

The friends I met through the T. Howard Foundation Summer Intern Orientation and the mentors I’ve met through the Foundation have helped to grow personally and professionally, shaping me to be who I am today.

What personal attributes have been essential to your career success?

I’ve always been a people person, and this trait has helped me to succeed in my career. I’ve had some of the best networking conversations by striking up conversations with people I didn’t know previously while in line for coffee at the company café.

Being open-minded has also helped. By being open to different opportunities that might have been outside of my comfort zone, I’ve picked up various skills and learned to navigate difficult situations, allowing me to bring a unique perspective to the table.

If you were entering this career today, how would you prepare to facilitate entry?

I would do a lot of research to understand the types of marketing and what type of marketing it is that I want to do. Agency vs. Client aside, there are so many kinds of marketing besides Advertising. I would have reached out to both my direct and extended network to see if there were people who had experience working in the field I wanted to enter.

I’d also advise myself to be more open to the “less glamourous” industries. I was under the impression that marketing for companies in the financial or healthcare space would be boring. However, working for Mastercard, I’ve learned that the importance lies not so much in the industry you work in, but the impact you’re driving.

Do you perform your work in a cubicle, office or open workspace? Please describe what’s on your desk at this moment.

Pre-COVID-19, I was working in our global HQ, based in Westchester County. One of the perks of having our offices outside of Manhattan is the space we have to spread out, so I would work from different spots throughout the office.

Currently, I’m working from home in my apartment. On my desk, I have my laptop, work phone, Amazon Echo, and a giant tub of pretzels that I munch on throughout the day.

Are you an early bird or a night owl? How does this show up in your working habits?

I’m definitely more of a night owl. Because I feel more productive in the day, I spend my morning responding to emails and doing more administrative work while sipping on coffee and waiting for the caffeine to kick-in. I also like to schedule meet & greets and coffee chats in the morning, as they help me to get my day started.  I use my afternoons to work on my long-term projects and check-in with my manager.

How do you re-charge at work?

Mastercard has a gym, so I like to go there during my lunch hour for a quick run.