Marketing in a Sea of Change

February 21, 2024
Jennifer Oliver Headshot

OMBA student Jennifer Oliver is leveraging concentrations in marketing and cybersecurity to navigate a rapidly changing profession. 

In 2009, Jennifer Oliver, MBA ’23, graduated from Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business with an undergraduate degree in Marketing. In 2021, she returned to her alma mater to pursue an online MBA (OMBA) with concentrations in marketing and cybersecurity. 

Only a dozen years had passed, but a dozen years is an eternity in the ever-changing world of marketing. Fueled by the rapid growth of data analytics, the profession has undergone remarkable transformation over the past decade. As Jennifer spearheads the email marketing effort for a leading software provider, she relies on her MBA training to help her manage change through a strategic lens. 

Taking the Leap

Jennifer, a Waco native, dreamed of becoming a veterinarian before Baylor’s music and entertainment marketing program captured her interest. Jennifer’s social nature and love for bringing people together drew her to the intersection of marketing and event management, where she was invigorated by the prospect of working closely with clients to devise concrete solutions to creative pain points. Internships with South by Southwest and the Austin Film Festival fueled this passion and prepared her for a rewarding career to come.

After graduation, she spent several years working as an executive assistant and event planner before landing a marketing role with Profiles International, a Waco-based company dedicated to helping organizations create more high-performing workforces. She handled everything from trade show management and webinar recruitment to email marketing. Out of all her responsibilities, there was something about email marketing that stuck. From that point forward, Jennifer said each successive role has had some intersection with business-to-business (B2B) email marketing. 

“Through email marketing, I ensure that business owners have everything they need to achieve the best possible version of their product or service and take it to market,” Jennifer said. “That is what motivates me.”

In 2019, she joined Neighborly (former Dwyer Group), the world’s largest franchisor of services related to repairing and maintaining homes and businesses. When the pandemic hit, she found herself with extra hours to fill. She had always considered pursuing an MBA, and the timing seemed ideal. As a working professional, an OMBA program fit the bill. 

“I have always enjoyed learning, but I benefit from having a structured environment to stay motivated,” she said. 

Not long after Jennifer enrolled in Baylor’s OMBA program, she was recruited by ConnectWise, a company that provides IT service management tools to technology solutions providers (TSPs). At the same time, she spotted an opportunity to freelance in event management. Between a full-time job, side gig and degree program, she grew accustomed to long, tightly-scheduled days. 

Despite a whirlwind schedule, Jennifer looks back and realizes she pursued her OMBA at just the right time. As her company's senior email marketing manager, she manages communications on behalf of 32 products and brands. Building diverse audiences for a wide range of products while maintaining a cohesive brand narrative is a daunting challenge, but with an OMBA in hand, she has risen to the occasion. 

A Strategic Lens

Jennifer initially planned to pursue a general MBA, having read that a marketing concentration was superfluous for students who were already leading marketing efforts at work. She changed her mind when she found herself drawn again and again to marketing-related topics at Baylor. 

“Marketing is constantly evolving,” she said. “I have always read articles and blog posts to stay current in my email marketing role, but I have not always kept up with trends in the profession as a whole to the extent that I would like. My OMBA gave me the broader perspective I was seeking.” 

Jennifer credits a class in brand marketing with shaping her vision in the middle of a company rebranding project. ConnectWise was growing so quickly that it needed to completely rewrite its mission, vision and value statements to account for the wider range of products it offered. 

“A brand isn’t just a logo or colors; it is the voice and personality of the entire company,” Jennifer said. “Because I was studying branding at the time, I was able to make a greater contribution than I might have otherwise.”

She has also found value in strategic marketing courses. Over the past decade, the availability of vast quantities of consumer and business data has catalyzed the rise of segmentation and personalization in marketing. At ConnectWise, Jennifer aims to personalize emails based on who she is addressing and the specific products that interest them. For example, a CEO might prefer more goal-oriented, high-level language, while a subject-matter expert would be more likely to receive an email with in-depth technical detail. Once an email is drafted, timing is everything. With 32 products across four business units, it can be difficult to know which emails to prioritize. Jennifer’s strategic marketing classes equipped her to better align daily decisions with the broader objectives of her company.

But sending a batch of emails is only one step of the journey. In her role, Jennifer uses a set of metrics to track each email’s performance. She points to the value of an OMBA class on communicating with data in helping her identify and visualize what matters most to her company’s leaders. 

“In the end, it was a no-brainer to add a marketing concentration,” she said. “Each one of my classes helped me think more strategically about what I do day to day and measure my contributions.” 

A cybersecurity concentration was also a natural fit for Jennifer, whose company offers a range of backup, protection, remote monitoring and other products related to cybersecurity. Through her OMBA classes, she developed a strong working knowledge of the roles and tasks that safeguard organizations in a digital environment. 

“When I attend industry events and listen to colleagues having conversations about cybersecurity, I can speak their language,” she said. “Now, I am equipped to be the person who can speak to colleagues in marketing and finance and help them better understand how IT and cybersecurity impact their work.”

Next Steps

As Jennifer expanded her skillset, her efforts did not go unnoticed. Partway through the OMBA program, she received a promotion. In the future, she aspires to grow into a role that combines her twin passions for marketing and event management and gives her an opportunity to lead a team.

Looking back at her years in the OMBA program, she is confident that the skills and perspectives she gleaned will serve her well wherever she ends up next. 

“At Baylor, I had the opportunity to become a more strategic marketer while learning alongside high-performing classmates from professors who care,” she said. “By all measures, it was worth it.” 

Are you looking to sharpen your own skillset? Learn more about Baylor’s Online MBA program by clicking here or fill out the form to speak directly with an enrollment coordinator.