VP of Marketing for HauteLook.com lectures for CSUN business students

Champaign Williams

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Kerry Bennet, senior vice president of HauteLook, talks to a marketing class during the “Professor for a Day” event organized by the College of Business and Economics on Tuesday. Photo credit: Alex Vejar / Daily Sundial

She wore a blue blazer over her blouse, the middle button eclipsing her shirt. Her blonde hair hung loose around her shoulders and beige heels decorated her feet. After being introduced by four students from the class, Kerry Bennett stood  and approached the podium.

The Vice President (VP) of Marketing and Communications for HauteLook, a popular online store known for selling fashion and lifestyle merchandise, seemed neither nervous nor anxious as she stood before 150 students in the economics and marketing class Tuesday afternoon.

“One of the biggest challenges in our company is actually how you say the name,” Bennett started,  receiving a unanimous laugh from the class. “It is HauteLook, it rhymes with coat or goat. And as the [introduction] team said, we do sale fashion for about 75 percent off. So if you are looking for fashion or style at a discount, HauteLook is the place to go.”

Bennett was one of nearly 40 business professionals who visited CSUN’s business department Tuesday Sept. 17. The plethora of company owners, CEOs, COOs, presidents, vice presidents and associates from the surrounding Los Angeles areas came to CSUN  to participate in the annual “Professors for a Day” event hosted by the College of Business and Economics.

Bennett presented a 50 minute slide-show presentation in which she shared some facts about HauteLook before delving into a discussion about marketing.

Bennett joined HauteLook company in 2009. When she came to the company they were devoid of a marketing department. However, 18 months into the job a marketing team was created.

HauteLook is going on six years old and has nearly 14 million registered members. The company averages nearly 1 million member registrations every 90 days. HauteLook was adopted into the Nordstrom family in Feb. 2011.

“Now we are a part of Nordstrom, which has been pretty exciting in terms of being a small startup company. The company has really grown quite a lot,” said Bennett.

To many students’ surprise, Bennett did not go to school for marketing and advertising. She received a degree in anthropology and happened to stumble into the world of marketing and fell in love.

“There were a couple of companies that recruited on my [college] campus through the career center and one of them was an advertising agency. I felt like I wasn’t really qualified for anything else so I really hoped I’d get that job, and I did!” she said.

Bennett’s first marketing job was at a small advertising agency. “My job was to make sure the ads we were producing had all of the right information, everything was spelled correctly, fact checking and making sure we were doing what the client wanted.”

Katryna Howard, senior management major, said Bennett’s presentation has encouraged her to transition into marketing after she earns a degree in management.

“I enjoyed her presentation a lot. I like the fact that she started out in anthropology and not marketing. That kind of gives me hope to know that even though I am in a different major I can still figure out what I want to do,” said Howard. “Management is more of a leadership aspect and marketing is a lot more creative. But I find myself being in leadership and on the creative side. So this was really helpful.”

For ambitious students who want to get their foot in the door of a marketing company, Bennett suggests they go through an advertising agency.

“Agencies are a good place to start because they offer a lot of good training. At an ad agency typically they have a couple of different businesses that they work [with]. One of the agencies I worked for [in the past represented] a video game company, a bank, Kellogg’s, and Rebox. They have a bunch of different [clients] and do advertising for a bunch of different businesses.”

Within an ad agency students will have the opportunity to work on one project for an allotted amount of time before moving on to another project for a completely different business and a different target audience. “[They’ll] get a lot of different experience,” Bennett said.

Alyssa Broody, a CSUN alumnus who graduated from the college of business in 2009, is now working at HauteLook with Bennett. When asked how she acquired such a respectable job in a short amount of time Broody responded that she owes everything to internships.

“I did six internships while I was at CSUN. I worked [at my last internship] for three years. I didn’t do anything that a normal intern was hired to do. I showed interest in different areas,” said Broody. “The thing is to try to make yourself invaluable, and know things that other people do not know.”

Broody and Bennett have known one another for more than seven years. The two met while Broody was interning at a phone company. Bennett transferred to HauteLook first and Broody followed soon after. Broody feels the two have grown up in front of each others eyes.

“It’s been exciting for me to see Kerry grow into the VP of marketing for a huge company owned by Nordstroms,” said Broody. “I have learned so many valuable things from her [such as] being really attentive to how your brand is presented to the outside world.”

During her one hour as a professor, Bennett spoke with passion and fervor about how to successfully make it in the marketing industry. She recommends students use LinkedIn when searching for employment. She encouraged students to list all of their skills onto LinkedIn so that potential employers can see what they have to offer. Before attending an interview, Bennett also recommends students check LinkedIn to see if they may know someone who works at the company they are applying for.

“A lot of hiring HR teams, even hiring managers will look at LinkedIn,” said Bennett. “If somebody at this point does not have a LinkedIn I’d be like, ‘Who is this person? Why are they off the grid?’”

To add an air of caution, Bennett said that college students hoping for future employment should always be cautious of what they post on their social media. ”If it’s private, you’re fine. But people do look at that. Think twice.Be thoughtful about what [your posts] say about you. Would you want that to be on the front page of the New York Times website?”

The HauteLook VP of marketing and advertising also let students know that their interviews starts before you walk in the door.  People will research you and form an opinion about you before you come in for an interview. Be aware of this and be cautious regarding what you post on social media.

A final piece of advice Bennett offered students was to remain open to trying new things, even if it is something new or not what you are being paid to do.

“I would certainly say to someone just starting: Be willing to do things that maybe you don’t understand. Be willing to do any project that anyone asks you to do. Jobs change so much and the people who are successful are the people you know you can rely on, who work really hard,” Bennett said. “Just jump in. Those are the people who are always going to be successful and are always going to have a job.”