Aaron Carpenter MBA 98
Scales New Career Heights
You recently left a key position at The North Face to embark on a new adventure as chief customer officer at HubNami. What opportunities and decisions have determined your career?
My career has been a great adventure! As an undergraduate at UC Davis studying Russian I was exposed to another culture while studying abroad, and I got hooked on the idea of international business. After graduation I worked a couple years in Russia and D.C. in freight forwarding and international development—which ultimately resulted in my return to campus for my MBA. That led to an internship at Levi’s in global marketing that set me on a path to becoming VP of global marketing at The North Face. During that 20-year path I always focused on digital marketing and ecommerce, so when an opportunity came along to invest in and start HubNami—a company focused on the emerging field of social media—I jumped on it. Even while I was at big companies, I was drawn to entrepreneurial digital projects, so the transition has been both seamless and exciting.
What are you passionate about in your work?
I love digital marketing because it is always evolving and it allows brands and people to connect on a deeper level and in more meaningful ways. I’m also passionate about brands—how they help people whether it’s by inspiring them to get outdoors, get healthy, help the environment or just live a better life.
Where is your career headed?
Right now I’m moving down a very entrepreneurial path—which I’m loving. My goal is build Hubnami into the world’s pre-eminent social media competitor monitoring tool. Where that leads to I’m not sure, but that’s part of the fun.
How has your UC Davis MBA helped shape your success?
My MBA experience has fundamentally shaped my career. It gave me the ability to speak the language of business and be effective working with CEOs, agency partners, digital innovators and sustainability/philanthropic leaders. Really importantly, it taught me the importance of team leadership and setting a vision for the impact I want to make and inspiring others to work toward that vision. It’s allowed me to be personally financially successful, but also give back. I’ve been fortunate to have managed and influenced over $10M in corporate philanthropy and sustainability investments since 1998 at Levi’s and The North Face, and I’ve served on great nonprofit boards like the Conservation Alliance. It’s been incredibly fulfilling to give back, and I will continue to do that type of work as we grow Hubnami.
How are you a game changer? Or, how are you making a positive impact in the world?
At Levi’s I learned a lot of classic brand management skills from mentors who were trained in CPG companies, but I also learned digital marketing first hand by living through the dot-com boom and bust and seeing what works and what doesn’t. I’m a game changer because I understand both worlds and can help global brands pick the right marketing strategies and tactics to achieve their goals and stay true to their DNA.
What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating?
Working with the incredible North Face athlete team was probably the most interesting thing I’ve done in my career. Specifically, I was mentored by Conrad Anker during my time at The North Face. He took me on a 24-hour adventure to climb the face of Half Dome that changed my perspective on “pushing oneself outdoors” and gave me immense respect for what the TNF athletes do every day. See this YouTube video, as well as this one for more on my North Face Experience.
Your favorite GSM memory?
Graduating of course! Felt really rewarding to finish. In addition to that I remember moments of enlightenment from a couple key professors. Prasad Naik and his course on how media modeling can add science to the art of marketing—I still use his tools today. Also Bob Medearis’ class where we did our own real estate project soup to nuts helped me get how important business plans are and how to structure them. Invaluable stuff!
Anything else you’d like to share?
I have two incredible daughters who are really into theater, swimming and running. We recently took a three-week trek in Nepal that was incredible. If anyone wants to check out videos from some of my adventures including Nepal check out my You Tube page.
How do you support and participate in the GSM now?
I try to come back every couple years to present to the marketing club, and I’ve done site visits for groups at Levi’s and The North Face. I also have helped get internships for students whenever I’ve had openings. If any students are looking for start up opportunities and have experience in social media please get in touch with me!