With Penn’s Alumni Weekend running from May 15th through May 18th this year, we’re taking the month of May to salute some of our amazing M&T alumni. This special A Day in the Life post comes to us from M&T alum Mark Bartholome, currently VP of Corporate Strategy at RetailMeNot.
Please briefly describe what industry you’re in and what your particular position entails.
I work for an internet company – RetailMeNot, Inc., the largest digital coupon marketplace. We help consumers save money both online and in-store and partner with retailers & brands on their digital media campaigns to help them reach consumers and achieve their sales targets. (check out retailmenot.com or download the app to save).
I lead the strategy team where my primary reasonability is to work with the executive team to scope and plan strategic priorities. With that, my team monitors market and competitive trends identifying new opportunities and threats. Plus, I work closely with corporate & business development teams as they evaluate, build, partner, and buy decisions that are aligned to company priorities. Finally, much of my time is leading projects that support various initiative teams or digging deep into questions from the executive team.
What time did you get up this morning before work?
Just before 6:00am.
What time did you start working, and what time were you done for the day?
I generally get in between 8:00-8:30 and leave the office around 6:30 or 7:00 in the evening. Post dinner, I generally spend time going through emails or reading analyst reports and relevant articles.
What were some of the projects you worked on today?
Today was a Monday, so I started off by attending our weekly operating review by teams reporting last week’s performance / KPIs. This morning we had a healthy debate on an upcoming product launch, and the potential tradeoffs required to reduce the time to market and how to increase the impact. Following that, I participated in an update on a promising new consumer offering where prioritization and next steps were decided. I blocked off time to sit at my desktop to go through materials related to a vendor decision I need to make this week. Late in the afternoon, I had my weekly 1×1 with a member of my team – focused on finishing the analysis and recommendations for a progress review with the CEO mid week.
Who specifically did you interact with today, besides coworkers (clients, interns, researchers, executives, founders, etc.)?
Today, mostly internal folks but that varies a fair bit. I met with the executive team, new business development team and our CEO/Founder on a small side project.
Are you currently traveling or about to travel for work?
I generally travel a couple times a month to a conference or to meet with potential partners or new start-ups to better understand what they are doing and establish relationships. I am off to a conference next week.
What was your favorite part of the work day?
I get the opportunity to meet with people across the company working on a wide range of topics, and I enjoy helping them to problem solve, think through analysis, and generate alternate approaches. All of our walls throughout the office are painted as functional whiteboards, so you can generally tell where I have been by the fact the walls are all marked up….
What are some of the challenges within your position that you particularly enjoy?
I really enjoy the diversity of topics I work on. To add value I need to be either a subject matter expert or know enough to identify where to push and ask the questions that advance goals. Additionally, some of the projects I work on are in areas that few people have looked at before, so determining what is relevant and communicating why can be fun but can require resiliency when it is not a popular opinion.
How did you end up in your current position?
Like many people it was random path that was influenced by (i) wide range of experiences and (ii) the people I have met who have become both mentors and/or friends. I have not worked in the same function or industry for more than a couple years, so I have always tried to apply lessons learned. I would say that just because a role doesn’t appear glamorous doesn’t mean you will not learn something valuable. I was a 3rd shift production supervisor for about a year and I learned a lot about leading and motivating a team that I don’t think I would have found in a different role.
How did M&T help prepare you for where you are today?
To graduate from the M&T Program requires a strong work ethic, ability to prioritize, and capacity to master a diverse set of subjects. Without those traits, you won’t handle the workload and meet the tough standards of Penn professors and classmates. When I left Penn, I had the confidence to lead soldiers in the Army and it continues today when I meet with senior executives and board members.
What advice do you have for those who might be interested in pursuing a similar path?
I have had pretty diverse experiences and I have learned from each. I honestly laugh a little bit when someone tells me they have the next 5-10 years planned out and all the boxes they need to check. It is the cheesy response, but the older I get the simple advice of enjoying what you do, having pride in your work, and spending time with your family and friends resonates more with me.
Mark is currently VP of Corporate Strategy for RetailMeNot in Austin, Texas. He graduated from Penn and M&T in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Science from Penn Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Wharton with a concentration in Finance. Mark enjoys checking out live shows in Austin, watching Will Ferrell movies (even the bad ones make him laugh), and traveling to South East Asia.