Kellogg World Alumni Magazine

At Google, Kellogg alumni find a familiar passion for collaboration

  Google's mobile advertising team includes, from left: Jason Spero '99, Jesse (Marmon) Haines '03 and Paul Feng '04.

By the end of this year, more than half of all Americans will have a smart phone.

This trend presents a lucrative opportunity for Google’s advertisers — and for Google itself.
In late 2010, the company decided to seize the opportunity to communicate where mobile advertising was going, what it could do for advertisers and how Google could help.
“We started with an empty whiteboard and the goal of telling this story,” says Jason Spero ’99, head of mobile ads for the Americas. “We only had two and a half months from concept to delivery.”

It was no easy feat, and it could not be accomplished alone.

Spero and fellow Kellogg alumni Jesse (Marmon) Haines ’03, group marketing manager, and Paul Feng ’04, group product manager, collaborated to plan “thinkmobile,” a half-day conference in February geared toward Google’s top advertisers. Though Feng and Spero were based in Mountain View, Calif., and Haines in New York City, the trio talked every day on a virtual platform to plan a program to convince advertisers to invest more in mobile ads. 
“We had to get the right people in the right room and package the right messages about mobile advertising that were going to be sticky and resonate with the audience,” Haines says.

Hundreds of Google’s advertisers attended thinkmobile, while thousands of additional viewers watched a live stream of the event on their desktops and mobile devices. All three of the Kellogg graduates were featured speakers.

“If people told me 11 years ago that I would get to speak in front of CMOs and VPs of marketing at these huge companies and tell them how they should approach this critical new platform, I would have been thrilled,” Spero says. “It’s something I’m very proud to have done. To do it with Jesse and Paul made it even more fun.”

The Kellogg alumni note that Google’s success is driven by teamwork and collaboration — an ethos strikingly similar to that at their alma mater. “There is a can-do spirit at Kellogg,” says Haines. “At Google, there is that culture too. If you have a good idea, you run with it. Everyone has a real passion for thinking big and making things happen.”

Feng says Google’s mission — to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful — is inspiring to employees.

“Google makes sure our teams are agile and small enough to build really interesting products,” he says. “The culture we espouse is collegial and innovative. We hire people whom we think are capable and we give them the ability to prove themselves. I find that freedom really exciting.”

So do many of the other Kellogg graduates at the company (Google employs more than 100).

Global business head Bill Sickles ’94 partners with large companies and provides them with marketing solutions across Google products, including YouTube, display and mobile ads. He says the teamwork skills he learned at Kellogg fit right into the Google culture. 

“Even though Google is a big company, we work in small teams,” Sickles adds. “They make it feel like an entrepreneurial environment, but with the support of a multi-billion-dollar company. Kellogg really focused on the bigger picture and on teamwork, so that allows alumni who work for Google to come in and really make an impact.”


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