Having built a career in customer marketing for tech companies, Chad Minnick, Wittenberg class of 1998, exemplifies the power of the liberal arts in being able to adapt quickly, problem-solve, and think critically in his technology career.
Originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, Minnick, who majored in psychology and is a current member of the University’s Alumni Board, now lives in Seattle, Washington. After graduation, he began a career in higher education for eight years, including two working in Wittenberg’s Office of Alumni Relations and for the Wittenberg Fund. Minnick then transitioned to a career in technology, building customer lifecycle and engagement strategies designed to strengthen brand identity and customer community, including 10 years at SAP Concur. He then joined Infoblox before landing his latest opportunity at Amperity, where he serves as the customer marketing manager.
“Witt absolutely prepared me for this - not only for adapting, problem-solving, and critically thinking, but also for seeing how things are interconnected when making decisions as well as the need to bring others along with you in driving success,” said Minnick, who was a varsity swimmer, leader in the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, a member of the Wittenberg Choir, and a tour guide and intern in the Office of Admission while at Wittenberg.
“I make light of my degree in psychology, including my focus on neurological psychology studying individual behavior, performing gonadectomies and brain lesioning, and being published for my senior research. But now, working in marketing and sales, this usually gets raised eyebrows and curiosity. After I get their attention, I detail how my experience and degree at Witt allowed me to see the bigger picture of the world around me, providing a better understanding of how we can work together and strive to improve the systems around us to allow people and organizations to thrive.”
Following his move to the Pacific Northwest, Minnick has focused much of his time on employee resource group development. After serving as a national co-chair for North America Pride at SAP, he helped to build an organizational framework for Pride+Friends at Infoblox and already has plans for involvement at Amperity. Outside of work, Minnick volunteers for the Human Rights Campaign, Greater Seattle Business Association’s Scholarship program, Out & Equal, and is the alumni advisor for the University of Washington Lambda Chi Alpha chapter. Minnick and husband, Alex, live in Seattle, and are the proud parents to Chad’s son Liam.
Minnick recently took time out of his schedule to answer a few questions for his alma mater.
Wittenberg: What does your current implementation work entail exactly and how has it been going?
Minnick: Customer engagement and customer community building has become extremely important for companies these days. As people look to make an investment in a product, they want direct feedback from people using it. Creating a community of customers who are satisfied with their experience and creating value from the company’s solutions are essential to future growth for companies.
Wittenberg: What challenges, if any, have you run into, and what have been some of the biggest rewards?
Minnick: So many challenges…I came into this wing of marketing as it was getting off the ground. Every strategy was new, building from scratch each and every time. Knowing we were groundbreaking everything, we collected as much data as we could, as well as going directly to the sources to understand their challenges as our customers. And, we learned to pivot, all the time understanding that we are getting as close to the bullseye as we can and knowing we’ll need to turn dials to perfect processes and resources along the way. My passion for the customer is now part of my foundation. I look to always take the customer’s voice and needs with me in any role. I now understand that companies can’t just push products - they need to provide solutions that impact value with their customers. My 10 years at SAP Concur gave me the opportunity to really find my groove working with customers in a way that whetted my entrepreneurial spirit. As I settle into my role at Amperity, I look to continue that passion for the customer while always thinking outside the box to create new ways to establish growth for both the customers, the company, and the growing customer data industry as a whole.
Wittenberg: What do you love most about your work now and why? What did you love the most in higher education and do you miss that work?
Minnick: I loved working with the students and families when I worked in higher education. I very much aligned to the mission of the liberal arts colleges and loved working with students to find the college that would be the best home for them and their learning. As I worked in Admission, I looked to recruit graduates, not just students. College education is a long game, not just the four years you’re on campus. I worked to find the students that would directly benefit from the campus community and education, and would stay engaged in that community as alumni. This philosophy was the baseline in crafting my career after higher education. When I stepped into sales, I looked for prospects who would grow with our solutions and continue to be customers. As I shaped my experiences in creating customer marketing initiatives, I looked to create engagement strategies around long-term benefits and value to our customers.
I do miss the direct connections in working with students in selecting a college. There’s something special about creating opportunities for families. To help me get back to my roots, I found the Greater Seattle Business Association Scholarship Program (GSBA). The GSBA is the nation’s largest LGBTQI+ chamber of commerce and has one of the largest scholarship programs for LGBTQI+ and Ally youth looking to go to college. Many of the applicants come from underprivileged and underserved backgrounds. Many are people of color, and most have had direct challenges with housing and support due to their coming out. Being able to bring my past experiences in education to work with the applicants has been extremely fulfilling.
Wittenberg: As a leader in your community, can you talk more about why serving your community is important and how it has enriched you personally and professionally?
Minnick: As I was coming out, it was the community around me that brought me through. They were key as I experienced firsthand the challenges and discrimination the LGBTQI+ community faced. This inspired me to replicate safe spaces where others could find community and support in their coming out journey, and continue to build their authentic lives in safety. My volunteerism and activism launched with a local LGBTQI+ support center in Tacoma called the Rainbow Center. When I moved to Seattle, I started volunteering with Human Rights Campaign, Lifelong, the Greater Seattle Business Association and their scholarship program, among others. It became known that I always had my “Day Job” - but it quickly partnered with my “Gay Job” of activism and pursuing equal rights for members of the LGBTQI+ community and other minority groups needing their representation and messaging amplified. One major achievement was the unified effort to bring marriage equality to the state of Washington. My husband and I both served on the campaign during both the legislative and referendum stages, and were on the leadership team that focused on meeting with legislators from the eastside suburbs of Seattle for the vote, as well as ‘Get Out the Vote’ efforts to support marriage equality as it went to the popular vote. The year 2012 was a huge one, and I’m proud to play my individual role in what ultimately led to the SCOTUS decision of Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015.
Wittenberg: Tell me about you serving as the national co-chair for North American Pride at SAP Concur and your continued work building global ERGs for the LGBTQIA and Ally communities at Infoblox and now Amperity.
Minnick: Becoming the national co-chair of SAP’s Pride Group for North America (Pride@SAP) was pretty much the “grand merger” of my “Day Job” and my “Gay Job.” It was still a volunteer position (so I had my full day job to do), but here I was able to combine my experience in creating equitable policies at my place of work and really see how creating that safe space had a direct impact on my colleagues. My day job was building our customer community, so my gay job had a great overlay in creating a stronger LGBTQI+ community within SAP.
We were able to make immediate impact by working with SAP Concur on creating more equitable policies on parental leave, adoption/surrogacy coverage, and taking stands against anti-trans bills that were cycling through the legislature at the time. We also created strong partnerships with other employee resource groups (ERGs), highlighting the intersectionalities of our communities. In doing so, we were able to have stronger conversations around employee experiences of women, people of color, veterans, and different generations in the workforce. It also provided the opportunity to adjust organizational structures to support the tremendous growth we were experiencing as an ERG. I helped move away from a “one hub” strategy where the core group based all focus and activities in the Bay Area to an office chapter model where offices in cities across North America could begin a chapter in their location to begin serving the needs of the immediate community.
As I joined Infoblox, there was already early momentum with their new ERG - Pride+Friends. I jumped on early to help the leaders establish the group within the organization. I look to help shape the foundation of the ERG to ensure long-term success at Infoblox. Employee resource groups create such strong communities for employees – allowing places for both socialization and support. It was exciting to be in at the beginning here and have the opportunity to provide cornerstones for the ERG to grow.
With Amperity, their first “get to know you” question is: What are your pronouns? It’s a short question, but one with a huge statement of inclusion. It’s the work of ERGs that help organizations understand how they can be more inclusive – and thus do better business for their employees and their customers.
Wittenberg: Our nation still remains divided in so many ways, yet each step we take in advancing the LGBTQIA community makes a difference. What advice do you have for other companies, communities, and campuses in furthering shared understanding and support?
Minnick: For those in advocacy and volunteerism, be patient, keep strong, give hope. It takes time, a lot of time at times, but keep pushing the envelope. Ask the difficult questions, listen to the needs around you, move forward together. Think incremental with the larger goal of equality in mind – always moving forward.
For companies, communities and campuses who are looking to better support their LGBTQI+ colleagues, neighbors, and students, actively create spaces to listen to the needs, challenges, and policies that get in the way of safety or equality directly or inadvertently. Hearing where hurdles actually are can be surprising. Creating safe spaces to have honest conversations takes work, but is worth it in the long run.
Diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice is creating active representation – not just having data points of diversity, but using the voices you bring to the table to improve as a whole. I’m thrilled to be invited to the table of the Alumni Board, and look forward to do what I can to help Witt overall as we look to continue to bring in new Tigers and connect with our alumni.