Leaping From Sales to Marketing

Certificate graduate Sheyla Jafarova inspires creativity in digital marketing pursuits

For 10 years, Sheyla Jafarova has been immersed in all things sales. In fact, it was during her time as a travel sales consultant at AAA that inspired her to launch her own entrepreneurial venture, tourgeek, where she develops global digital travel itineraries for high-demand road trips, major world cities and U.S. national parks. As with any entrepreneurial endeavor, the key to success is attracting and retaining customers.

This became her first dabble into the marketing sector. To promote her small business, Sheyla had to learn—on the fly—how to perform market research, develop the brand and effectively promote through various channels, such as social media, trade shows and vendor events.

And that’s when the marketing bug hit. “To me, the appeal of marketing lies in its combination of creativity, strategy and communication, and the potential to make a tangible impact on businesses and consumers,” this 2017 Certificate Program in Marketing graduate says. “The ever-evolving nature of the field keeps it exciting and offers individuals the chance to contribute to the success of products, services and brands—especially those that make a huge impact in today’s world.”

Sheyla currently works as a digital marketing manager for global partner marketing at Amazon Web Services (AWS), where she continually demonstrates best-in-class digital marketing campaigns while flexing project management skills. The path to Sheyla’s career change all began by hearing about our certificate program.

What drew you to our certificate program?

I was referred by a good friend of mine who completed the certificate and works as a product marketing manager for Equifax Workforce Solutions.

Selecting your certificate offered a compelling choice for several reasons:

Firstly, UC Berkeley is renowned for academic excellence, ensuring a high-quality education and earning a valuable credential.

Secondly, the program provides a comprehensive curriculum taught by industry experts, offering insights into the latest marketing trends and strategies.

Finally, the certificate leverages Berkeley's strong network, connecting you with professionals and opportunities in the vibrant business landscape of the Bay Area.

That being said, I have achieved exactly what I wanted: essential marketing knowledge and an insight into the latest subject trends to promote my own business, as well as get a chance to be a part of a strong marketing team within a big marketing organization.



Sheyla Jafarova taking a selfie in front of the AWS logo



This achievement sets me apart in a competitive job market and enhances my credibility among peers, colleagues and potential employers.





Tell me about your experience going through the classes and the curriculum.

I found the classes to be quite enriching and well-designed. The curriculum covered a wide range of relevant topics, from fundamental marketing principles to cutting-edge strategies in the digital age. The courses are structured to build a strong foundation while also encouraging creative thinking and problem-solving.

The diverse backgrounds and perspectives of my peers prompted interesting class discussions and group projects. Collaborating with individuals from various industries and regions provided a broader understanding of marketing challenges and opportunities.

Overall, my experience in the program was both intellectually stimulating and practically valuable.

You took all of the classes online, correct?

As a matter of fact, being a full-time employed mother of two children, I didn't see any other option than to complete the marketing courses online. This created a unique opportunity for someone like me who has a busy lifestyle.

A well-thought-out schedule provided a good pace of learning. Quick communication helped effectively remove roadblocks. Accessibility allowed me to study on my time from anywhere, despite other obligations. The instructors provided plenty of video and print material to support the lectures and promoted live discussions during brainstorming sessions.

Were you able to put lessons learned in class to your work?

Yes, absolutely! At the time, I was working at AAA and I was able to run a few marketing analyses on the most promising AAA products. I also successfully started and promoted my own business’ pages in Meta (Facebook, Instagram). And up to this day, I leverage foundational marketing knowledge I’ve gained in this program.

What does earning this certificate mean to you?

Personally, it represents a commitment to my own growth and development. It signifies my dedication to continuous learning and the pursuit of excellence. This achievement boosts my confidence and validates my efforts in expanding my knowledge and skill set in the field of marketing.

Professionally, earning the certificate is a testament to my expertise and proficiency in marketing. It demonstrates that I have acquired a comprehensive understanding of industry trends, strategies and best practices. This achievement sets me apart in a competitive job market and enhances my credibility among peers, colleagues and potential employers.

It also opens doors to new opportunities and career advancement.

What advice would you give to a student who is starting the certificate?

Although every student's journey is unique, I would highlight a few tactics that helped me, such as setting clear goals for completing the program, creating a study schedule—and sticking to it—regularly practicing newly learned skills and networking.

Aside from the required classes, you are given the opportunity to somewhat shape the program based on your preferred marketing specialization. It always helps to do current research on what type or channel of marketing is most popular and why, and follow that direction.