In the early months of 2020, as COVID-19 left many small and medium-sized businesses struggling in its wake, Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business alumnus and Jives Media founder Jay Ives saw an opportunity to serve his local community. “Businesses were hurting, and I wanted to do everything in my power to support them,” Ives said.

What he couldn’t have foreseen is how taking this opportunity to serve would, over the course of just two years, rapidly transform his career and earn him a spot on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list among the world’s top marketers.

The 29-year-old entrepreneur and CEO started his professional journey as a marketing management major at Virginia Tech, completing his undergraduate degree in 2016. “I knew to be a ‘lethal marketer,’ I had to have the proper support, training, and education to develop both qualitative and quantitative marketing skills.” He chose to enroll in Pamplin for the world-class education he knew he would find at Virginia Tech.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Ives went off to work but realized there was still an opportunity to expand his skillset around data analytics. He chose to enroll in the Master of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in business analytics program offered by the Center for Business Analytics within Pamplin.

This one-year, hands-on degree program gave Ives the necessary skills and training to complement his career trajectory. In addition to the business analytics core curriculum, he was a member of the capstone team that contracted with Amdocs, a leading software and services provider. Alongside then-Executive Director of the Center for Business Analytics Linda Oldham and colleague Alex Zelloe, Ives and his team traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel, to present their work to Amdocs’ executive team. He remembers this trip as an invaluable opportunity to gain experience working with international clients and adapting to diverse business cultures.

As Ives puts it, he had found his “secret weapon,” and after graduating from the program, was flooded with new opportunities. “I gained a much deeper understanding of data. More importantly, I learned how to communicate and visualize data in a meaningful way for stakeholders to make key decisions.”

Ives soon moved to Silicon Valley to work with high-growth startups. He led the lifecycle marketing team for Poshmark. While leveraging his newfound skills in data analytics, he helped generate tens of millions of dollars of revenue growth and set a strong foundation for the company’s initial public offering (IPO). He later moved on to join the Thumbtack lifecycle marketing team, where he increased revenues and utilized data to enhance the experience of both customers and service professionals utilizing the marketplace.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Ives found a renewed passion for serving small- to medium-sized local businesses. Seeing first-hand how his favorite local businesses were struggling, he decided to jump into action and reached out to offer his services. Over the course of just a couple of months, Ives received enough business to leave his 9-to-5 and go all-in on the marketing agency he founded: Jives Media.

Today, Jives Media has grown exponentially into a team of 25 spread across the United States. They have completed 5,000 plus client projects and continue to receive numerous accolades and awards. Ives was nominated for the Forbes 30 under 30 list by a colleague, who submitted the nomination on his behalf.

“It has been an absolute joy bringing the skills and training that I acquired at Virginia Tech to help empower businesses across the globe,” Ives said.

His advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to look for the intersection of service and leadership. “I like to reverse engineer my business solutions by first understanding where I can help. From there, you can identify opportunities that will make a real impact…take things one step at a time and stay true to yourself and the mission.”

Pamplin’s Master of Science in Business Administration-Business Analytics program is currently accepting applications for the 2023-24 student cohort. The final application deadline is Feb. 1 for international students and March 1 for domestic students. To learn more, visit the
Center for Business Analytics website.


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