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Meet The Brandery's New Program Manager!

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After a year of significant milestones in 2015, The Brandery is continuing its expansion by growing its full-time staff. The departure of former Marketing & Operations Coordinator, Emily Cooper, left a large void to fill. The Brandery staff structure was re-organized to add two new full-time positions. At the beginning of January 2016, The Brandery welcomed Justin Rumao, Program Manager, and Heather Kitchen, Office Manager.

We wanted to take this opportunity to introduce our new employees to you, The Brandery Blog readers, so below are a few words from our new Program Manager, Justin Rumao.

(Check back tomorrow to hear from Heather!)

Why I Left Corporate America for the Startup World

I know what you’re thinking- here’s yet another person who abandoned the safety and warmth of the bosom of corporate America to test his mettle in the fast-paced startup world. For the most part, you’re right- but for as seemingly regular as my transition may seem, I’ve still managed to have some unique experiences that separate my story from the rest. My hope is that reading this will help you figure out whether the startup world is for you.

Up until a year ago, I had never fathomed transitioning to the startup world. After graduating from Michigan State with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2008, I worked at Toyota in a variety of roles; as an engineer at our former plant in Fremont, CA (now property of Tesla), a member of our supplier development team, a project manager for the Rav4 and Lexus RX, and most recently, a member of our strategic business management group. As I progressed through these roles, it became clear to me my strengths lay less in engineering and manufacturing, and more so in operations and entrepreneurialism, which drove me to complete my Xavier MBA in 2014.

It was also clear to me that I was more creative than I gave myself credit for- I developed a love for photography while in California, and parlayed that into a fairly successful run at wedding photography for a few years (which consumed many weekends and weeknights of my 20s). I loved being in control of every aspect and seeing a clear connection between my work and results, something that was sorely missing from my roles at Toyota. I volunteered with nonprofit organizations in Northern Kentucky and began shooting documentary-style interview videos for them (once again consuming my weekends and weeknights). I pursued these creative endeavors not just because I needed to counterbalance my work at Toyota, but because I truly loved it.

When 2015 approached, I resolved to finally do the things I wanted to do; after much planning, my girlfriend and I quit our jobs in August and decided to travel the country for three months, with the goal of seeing as many National Parks as possible. We knocked out 12 parks, 29 states, and 10,000 miles over 6 weeks before our car and all of our camping gear was stolen in Seattle. Despite the awful ending, I was truly grateful for the chance to get on the road and learn more about my true self and what really drives me.

My life experiences, especially those over the past 8 years, have prepared me to take the leap that is entering the startup community. While I am transitioning from a company consisting of thousands of employees across the world to a non-profit with three, my work in project management and operations, combined with my passion for the creative class and Greater Cincinnati community should correlate well to leading the next Brandery class to success, and contributing to the growing #StartupCincy environment.