One Man's Career Plateau Turns Into Self-Investment

Marketing graduate Jonathan Geilhufe stays hungry, ambitious

Photo of Jonathan Geilhufe
Jonathan Geilhufe: "I am committed to marketing as a career."

When you think about a home mortgage, are you aware of all the steps needed? Do you feel like you have all of the correct information to make a good financial decision? Or is your head spinning?


For marketing certificate graduate Jonathan Geilhufe, he's ready to make each potential lender a well-informed, educated and confident home-buyer. How? As the new Director of Digital Marketing at Suited Connector—a company that specializes in providing easy-to-access information to consumers to help them make the best possible financial decisions—Geilhufe is creating a lifecycle marketing plan for the company.

"Email is the workhorse of many digital marketing strategies, due in part to customer engagement and a very strong ROI," he says. "My team and I are working to integrate social, website content and SMS. Our company operates in the mortgage vertical. A mortgage represents what will likely be the single biggest financial decision that Americans make—and yet often there is a remarkable lack of comprehension inherent in the decision. My job is to reconcile different marketing objectives—engagement, monetization, customer experience, ROI and omni-channel strategies—to build a sophisticated lifecycle marketing program."

I recently chatted with Geilhufe to discuss his journey to this current exciting role. Read on to learn more about this fascinating marketer's education journey.

You've held marketing positions at various Bay Area companies since 2005. Why did you pursue a certificate in marketing?
About six years into a 10-year career at San Francisco–based digital marketing company Vinyl Interactive as Email Director, I realized that my career had plateaued and I was not really developing additional marketing skills and experience. I was attracted to UC Berkeley Extension's reputation and the ability to take courses in the classroom and online. I was confident that the certificate's coursework would provide the academic foundation that I lacked [Geilhufe holds a B.A. in English from UC Santa Barbara] and provide insight into digital marketing specialities and trends.

What was your experience like going through the online courses?
The experience was positive. Like many things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. I would have had a very difficult time managing a full-time job and spending time with my wife and two children while taking courses. The online courses provided invaluable flexibility.

How did that differ to classroom courses?
The classroom provided a great deal more interaction with students. In one course, I spent a considerable amount of time outside of class with a project partner. The classroom offered more interaction with my instructors and an opportunity to deep-dive subjects through classroom conversations.

You completed the certificate in 2016, at which point you moved to Denver and landed the Director of Marketing gig at Diablo Media LLC. How did the certificate prepare you for that?
In that job, I evolved the email channel and introduced analytics. I finished my certificate with two analytics courses [Marketing Analytics I and Marketing Analytics II]. The coursework and knowledge gained from those two electives resulted in a much deeper understanding of how to interpret data and make it actionable. A great deal of digital marketing is data-driven. Digital marketers now have the ability to quickly conduct A/B and multivariate testings to gain meaningful insight that directly impacts monetization and user experience.

What does earning the certificate mean to you both personally and professionally?
Professionally, it demonstrates that I am committed to marketing as a career. I feel that it is important to gain a foundation in marketing and the education on developing trends and specialized marketing skills.

Personally, it shows that it's never too late to get back in the classroom and learn. Yes, life is very busy and careers tend to plateau a bit at age 40, but we can choose to accept this or stay hungry and ambitious.