Alumni Spotlight: Jesse Geiger ’00

Not knowing what you want to do after college isn’t the end of the world.

Jesse Geiger, a member of the class of 2000, is a perfect example. Jesse spent time exploring his options both in college and after graduating, eventually settling on what he says is his favorite job to date. During his time at Denison, he minored in Spanish, and used his summers as more affordable ways to work and study abroad, studying in Guadalajara, Mexico after his sophomore year, and interning in Quito, Ecuador the summer after, through a program with the Economics department (his major). That commitment to trying things and seeing what he liked was a theme in his career progression as well, where he steadily transitioned into more tech-heavy roles until finding the balance he wanted.

Immediately after graduation, Jesse went into banking, as tech wasn’t the booming field it is today, and he didn’t have the technical skills required to be an entrepreneur in tech at the time. But after a short while, he found that he disliked the tunnel vision for profit that much of the banking industry had, where client needs weren’t being properly addressed, and so he pivoted to business school to open doors to jobs he might connect with. And in fact, he was recruited straight out of business school to work as a Product Marketer for Sterling Commerce, his first time stepping into a tech-centered role. However, Jesse fit in well, having retained a lot of the data analysis techniques from his time in banking, which he noted were consistent across fields. After Sterling Commerce was acquired by IBM, Jesse got a view into other companies also acquired, notably Coremetrics and Tealeaf, both of which did analytics works similar to what we see out of Google Analytics today.

While Jesse learned a lot about retail and customer behavior analytics, which were exploding at the time of the aforementioned IBM acquisitions, he ended up leaving due to the size of the company, feeling like he couldn’t get as much done as he wanted in such a big environment. He moved on to join Resource/Ammirati, where he worked more heavily on the sales side of the digital marketing and creative agency. However, when that company was also acquired by IBM, he left for the same reasons as the last time, looking for a place where he could have a bigger impact. That led him to team up with another ex-IBMer, with whom he joined Clicktale, a customer experience analytics startup. At Clicktale, Jesse was assigned a role in product marketing, but as is the nature of a startup, he did a whole lot more than his role defined, meeting with clients, doing product analysis, and generally supporting the company in whatever needed to be done.

When Clicktale eventually failed due to funding challenges and was being acquired by another company, Jesse joined Salesforce through a connection with the former CMO at Tealeaf, coming on as a Solution Engineer. As he describes it, the role requires the perfect amount of technical skill, where he can use his knowledge of the solutions he presents, but doesn’t have to own the sales process or build the products. Don’t think that the job doesn’t require some serious skill though – it’s just a different kind of skill. Jesse emphasized the importance of being able to adjust a technical conversation to a non-technical audience, and being able to perfect storytelling techniques to communicate the value of an idea, not just how it works. In his eyes, anyone can learn to code, but it takes the right person to be able to communicate effectively.

Jesse says that Denison is the right place to build that communication expertise. The educational experience at Denison gives you the ability to look at multiple parts of a project at once, and evaluate why something is effective or valuable to a situation. Software development skills are absolutely valuable, but while the need for code production is finite, there is a never-ending need for effective communication of the tools you have at your disposal. And being able to communicate value is also a critical skill for career growth as well. Jesse says he’s never gotten a job after college without some sort of connection, from the Denison Career Center to C-suite members at companies he used to work at. Lead with your personality, he says. Be interesting and let that come to the front of your conversations, so the person in front of you recognizes your potential value as a future coworker.

By Jonah Richardson
Jonah Richardson Peer Career Fellow: Technology, Data and Science