Career Advancement: VP of Product Management, FreeWheel

FreeWheelin' VP Nick Ionita (That's him in the Blue and Gold)

FreeWheelin’ VP Nick Ionita shows off the Blue and Gold

Student: Nick Ionita, MBA 13

Working as: Vice President of Product Management at FreeWheel, a B2B software company that provides advertising and revenue management tools for premium entertainment companies delivering their content online (ESPN, MTV, CNN, etc).

The path: Ionita joined FreeWheel as a product manager and was promoted to product director just before starting the Berkeley MBA Program. “When I joined, FreeWheel had about 20 people – we’re now up to 170 globally. While earning my MBA I was promoted to VP of Product Management and joined the company’s executive team. My experience at Haas played a very big role in that.”

Thrilled to: “Work with major media companies who are expanding their traditional television businesses online.” Ionita’s role has grown from product strategy and development to playing a larger role in the organization’s operations. “Start-ups face some unique management challenges when they start to grow.  Maintaining a loose, open culture while beginning to layer in the organizational process and structure required to continue scaling is a difficult balance.”

FreeWheel because: “Five years ago I was working as product manager at a large media company in Chicago. Every visit to SF for industry conferences made me realize that we were just sitting on the sidelines reacting to what was happening out here. I knew my next step had to be relocating to the Bay Area and I created a short-list of requirements: 1) Join something early stage where I had opportunity to be impactful, 2) learn from an experienced founding team, and 3) help solve a problem that I believed in. It was important to me that I join something that would help move an industry forward.”

Networked: “Working in the Bay Area you meet Haas alums at companies big and small. I constantly leveraged my Haas network for introductions to clients and partners as FreeWheel was growing, and now get many of the same requests from other alums building companies in the space.”

Inside FreeWheel: “I recently hung a poster above my desk (there are no offices) that says ‘Work like a Captain, Play like a Pirate.’  I think that sums up the work culture here perfectly.”

Best advice: “At work I made sure to discuss courses I was currently taking or planning to take and how I believed those were lining up with career goals I was setting. People (including your boss) don’t know what you’re learning and how that’s applicable to what you’re doing day to day unless you talk about it. Make your MBA work for you now, don’t wait until you’ve got your diploma.”

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