Daniel Pearl

Daniel Pearl

Questrom 2008 | Senior Manager, Product Marketing - SimpliVity

Daniel understands that a business degree is about more than just your concentration. He graduated with a law concentration because those were the classes he found most engaging, not because he wanted to go to law school. Daniel currently works in the Information Technology industry at a company in Boston.

What did you major in and why?

I majored in Business Law with a minor in Political Science. The interest started with my father, who is a law clerk in New York State’s Supreme Court System. I thought I might want to go into some sort of legal profession so I gave some classes a shot, with my favorites being anything from Professor Randall or Professor Chang.

Then, two things happened: 1) I decided I did not want to be a lawyer; 2) Yet, at the same time, I found their classes to be the most interesting and engaging, so I kept taking them, earning enough credits for my concentration.

At the same time, I had an interest in politics and I found enough time in my schedule to work in some classes. The most interesting and rewarding were when I traveled abroad to London my junior year and I took no business classes at all.

These choices seem a bit unorthodox, but I’m really happy with how it worked out. Based on my experience, I’d leave a couple pieces of advice:

1. For many jobs, your major doesn’t actually matter. I know this is a controversial statement, but many employers are looking for well-rounded individuals with the ability to learn, think fast on their feet, and work with a team. They’re not necessarily only looking for a specific degree. They’ll train you on the job for the rest.

2. Don’t only take business classes. Spend some time in BU’s other colleges to learn something else for a change, especially if you’re planning on being in business the rest of your life.

Questrom students often complain about all the required classes they must take (OB, accounting, law, statistics…). Have you found that these questions were relevant? If so, how have these classes helped you in your career?

In business, it’s really important to be an expert at your own job, to be the go-to person for something within your domain, whether it’s accounting or marketing or finance, for example. But that’s obvious. What’s not obvious is that the most effective people also have a well-balanced understanding of the other domains.

Why? Because teams in business, just like in Core, are cross-functional. As a marketing manager now, I have many meetings with teams in engineering, product management, finance, etc. It’s way more productive, and way more likely for me to get things done, if I try to have an understanding for their priorities and objectives, besides my own. Then, I can build win-win scenarios and a deeper sense of trust and collaboration.

What was your concentration? How does it correlate to what you are doing now? It didn’t. Well, not directly. I did a lot of business writing, which has been incredibly important. But I’m not a big believer in the concentration. For certain jobs, it definitely matters. But not for all jobs. It’s more important to be well-rounded, smart, articulate, and willing to learn quickly. In your opinion, what is the most underrated course, concentration or minor? Anything by Professor Randall or Professor Chang. I was always excited to engage in the conversation and probably raised my hand a bit too much. What were you involved with in college? How did you get involved and where did it take you?

I was a member of the Questrom Honors Program, which was a great small community of students and professors. I went to all of those events and loved them.

The best thing I ever did was study abroad. I would recommend it in a heartbeat. It doesn’t matter where, just so long as it’s somewhere. I chose London and had an amazing experience, really learning a new culture for the first time. I’ve built some of the best friendships that have lasted to this day; many of those friends that I met for the first time in January of 2007 in The Crofton will be at my wedding in March.

I also worked the whole time I was in school, starting with work study jobs but then graduating to waiter and bartender gigs at places like Whiskey’s (yes, I was one of those guys), The Lower Depths in Kenmore, and The Squealing Pig in Mission Hill. As much as I think on-campus extra-curriculars are important, I’d argue these “real jobs” were a pretty good training ground for me as well. They integrated me into the City of Boston, they forced me to think fast on my feet, they helped me learn to balance my time, they introduced me to some of the hardest working people on the planet in the food services business…and the extra money didn’t hurt either.

What is your biggest critique of Questrom? My biggest critique is the “Questrom attitude.” I’m very proud to have graduated from Questrom. But I’m also proud of all of my friends who graduated from CAS, COM or Sargent as well. I know we all think that “Questrom is the hardest school” and “Questrom’s grades are deflated,” but take a step back for a second and let’s all check our egos at the door. We’re all Terriers. (And by the way, in work, you’ll be joining forces with Eagles and Huskies whether you like it or not. They’re all smart too.) What were the five (or so) most defining steps you took to get where you are now?
  1. I work hard.
    • I worked hard in grade school, in college, and in the workplace. I want to be known as the hardest working person around.
  2. Practice
    • I was the worst hockey player on my teams from the time I was 4 years old until I was 14. But I practiced and practiced and practiced. My senior year, I was on the starting defensive pair on our Varsity team and won a state championship. The same applies to work.
  3. I’m aggressive
    • I’m ambitious and I want to succeed. I like to win.
  4. Communication
    • It’s critically important to be able to communicate. Ambiguity breeds confusion which breeds a lack of productivity.
  5. Always keep learning
    • This is a cliché but I believe it’s true. I try to recognize that I’m still young in the workplace and I have a lot to learn from those that have been doing this much longer than I have. I try to remember to always ask for advice, to listen, and to adapt.
What was your “Aha!” moment when things either fell into place, you realized what you wanted to do, etc..? I still haven’t had that moment. And I’m not sure I ever will. I don’t think this is a bad thing and I think it’s more normal than you’d think. How do you manage to do what you love?

I can think of two answers to this question. There’s the more cliché “work-life balance.” This is definitely important. And I try to spend as much time as I can with my fiancé, my friends, my family, doing things I really enjoy… playing hockey and have a good craft beer top the list.

And at the same time, there are ways to integrate work in fun ways. Anyone who tries to tell you work is fun every day of the week is full of it. But, there are definitely fun moments and I truly believe that these are earned and influenced. Sometimes you need to ask. Or sometimes, you just need to jump in and do something.

I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot in my job so far, at a pretty young age. I’ve been to Rio in Brazil, Singapore, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, almost all of Western Europe and I’m typing this on a plane ride back from San Francisco. I love travel. Sometimes, these trips are random and lucky. But more often than not, I’ve either explicitly asked for them, or I’ve put myself in a position where they become a more natural part of the job.

What are/were your passions and how did you pursue/find them?

Travel and ice hockey, not necessarily in that order. Travel for me really started when I went abroad my junior year. It changed my outlook on life and the world. It sounds corny, but it’s true. That was my first time to Europe and I’ve been back probably at least 15-20 times since.

I’ve been playing ice hockey since I was 4 years old. I was never the best player, but I always practiced and worked hard. And I kept that going during school, always playing on an intramural team and always playing in the hockey class twice a week for one credit at a time. That’s something I plan to do the rest of my life, and it started after BU by joining our very own Norm Blanchard from the UPO on his team men’s league team in the north shore. Great group of guys on that Havoc team.

What was your first job after college? What path did you take to get where you are now?

I started at EMC in their Marketing Leadership Development Program (MLDP). It was a great training ground. Every 3 months for the first year and a half, I moved to a new rotation within the 1000-person strong marketing organization. I got to try a lot of different things in a short period of time, which helped me to better determine what I was good at, what I enjoyed, and where I could best add value to the company.

I built up some experience over 5 years at EMC before moving on to new opportunities in the IT industry. Now, I’m at SimpliVity, an emerging competitor offering some truly unique a revolutionary technology, called hyperconvergence.

Describe a day in your work life. What is the culture like?

I work at SimpliVity, an emerging player in the IT hardware and software industry, offering a new type of technology to the IT data centers of the world, called hyperconvergence. It’s a really exciting place to work in a fast-growing industry.

The culture mirrors the mission of the company: Attain and Sustain Position and Recognition as Technology and Market Leader.

I’m sure everyone says this, but with us, it’s really true. No two days look alike. On any given day, working in our marketing department, I may be working with our global sales force on a new messaging campaign, or writing a new page for our website, or studying a competitor to figure out their technology’s strengths and weaknesses, or building a tool to calculate the cost savings our product provides.

In your field, what are some ways that one could compliment their business degree? (I.e. finance and economics, marketing and psychology…) WRITING! It’s amazing how many people in the business world can’t craft an email with proper spelling and grammar, let alone a longer document. (Side note: this isn’t a class, but try to be really good at Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel. Believe it or not, this will set you apart.) What is the most valuable lesson you have learned that isn’t taught in school?

When you leave school, you still don’t know anything. Be prepared to start your first job and feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. I don’t care what job it is, it’s the same for everyone. And you’ll feel that way because it’s true: you don’t know anything. Yet.

But that’s ok. You’ll learn. And just as importantly, your employers won’t expect you to know anything yet either. They’ll expect you to be smart, to be ready to listen and learn, to contribute quickly, and to work well with others.

What do you wish you knew in college? Chill out a bit. Your grades are important. They are. But so is your experience. You’ve only got four years… take advantage of it.

Jan 7, 2015