March 3, 2016

Ask an Alum: Jeffrey Grock

Jeffrey Grock
Jeffrey Grock (Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Grock)

We asked Jeffrey Grock (MBA, 2013; MA, Organizational Psychology, 2013), a brand manager, Future Leaders Program, at NBCUniversal, to share his experiences and insights.

Your undergraduate and graduate degrees are in business and psychology. How do those mesh for you?
The dual degrees mesh very well as there is a great deal of overlap between the fields of business and psychology. My master’s degree in psychology focused on applied research and organi­zational behavior, so business is a natural application.

When did you know that entertainment was an industry that was right for you?
Growing up, I really enjoyed different forms of media, such as TV, theme parks, and gaming. Some of my fond­est memories are with my family visiting Disneyland. When I was older, I realized I wanted to contribute to a field that really captured my interest and that would en­able me to create similar positive experiences for others.

How did you land your current gig with NBCUniversal?
I interned with the research department at NBCUniver­sal while studying at CGU. This really allowed me to gain experience in the industry and make connections. After I graduated, I worked as a contractor at Electronic Arts, where I was able to gain additional experience in the entertainment industry and the research field. When I saw the opening for [NBCUniversal’s] Future Leaders Program, I thought it was a unique opportunity for me to learn about many facets of the industry and really find my niche in the field as well as position myself for upward growth.

What is the Future Leaders Program?
The Future Leaders Program is a two-year program designed to foster and develop the talent and creativity of employees at NBCUniversal. Aimed at individuals who are passionate about progressing their careers in the media business, the program selects the best talent and propels them toward manager-level roles so they may drive the next wave of innovation and expansion at NBCUniversal.

Participants undergo four different roles over two years, exposing them to all three business units, Universal networks (channels), television distribution (media distribution), and production. They will be real roles, with tangible goals and objectives. Participants are expected to deliver these goals and objectives, and then share their learning with the other participants during and after each rotation. You are supported by the placement manager and the Future Leader Program manager, as well as an individual coach throughout the time in the program.

What is your day-to-day like?
Each job placement has been unique in and of itself. There are different goals and expectations across different teams. On any given day I may be working on a variety of different countries or territories. There is not a tremendous amount of consistency, which is why it’s challenging, but also fun.

For example, while supporting research and strategy for NBCUniversal International, I was primarily responsible for identifying media trends in local markets, as well as worldwide, to maximize NBCUniversal’s distribution strategies and channel offerings. This was very different from supporting television distribution finance, where I built predictive financial forecasting models utilizing multiple regression.

What has been the best day on the job for you since graduating from CGU?
While I was a brand manager for Downton Abbey, my team ventured out to Las Vegas for the LIMA [Licens­ing Industry Merchandisers’ Association] Conference [in 2015], which is the leading trade conference for the global licensing industry. We ended up winning the LIMA award for Best Film, Television, or Entertainment (Live Action) Program, beating out The Walking Dead, Malefi­cent, and Game of Thrones. It was an honor to win and celebrate with my team. It was a perfect way to cap off my rotation in production.

Best CGU memory?
Meeting my future wife—even if I didn’t know it at the time.

What was your favorite CGU course?
It wouldn’t be fair to the CGU faculty if I just picked one. “Research Methods” with Dr. Jason Siegel, the statistics sequence with Dr. Dale Berger, and “Strategy” with Dr. Vijay Sathe are a few of my favorites.

Favorite professor?
I can’t pick one favorite, but the professors that have had the greatest impact on my career are Dr. Jason Siegel, Dr. Dale Berger, Dr. Vijay Sathe, and Dr. Jay Prag.

Best career advice?
1. Do things that are scary and uncomfortable.
While studying at CGU, I was offered a 10-month posi­tion at Disney supporting consumer insights for the parks business. The role required me to take a year off from graduate school and move to Orlando. It was a big undertaking to move my entire life cross-country for such a short period of time. I also had to leave Los Angeles and CGU where I was comfortable to work in an unknown environment where I was a stranger. It was stressful and it was a challenge, but it also paid off in the long run. Working for Disney opened a lot of doors for me and helped me get to where I am today. So, do things that seem scary and uncomfortable—that’s where you will grow the most.

2. Work hard and ask for things you want.
There is only one way to get what you want out of your career, and that is to make it happen for yourself. This happens by working hard and going after what you want. Don’t be afraid to ask for things because the worst someone can say is, “No.”