Phil Irvine

Fark TariPhil Irvine (’09)
Senior Manager, BeachBody

I began my career as an IT project manager. With the help of UCLA Anderson’s MBA program, I transitioned into marketing, where I gained experience in sales strategy, digital marketing and customer relationship management. Now I lead customer and retention marketing for all BeachBody fitness programs and nutritional supplements. I’m working on the focusing on how we re-market to customers through new channels. This is a great project because it’s always changing and it helps me develop new skills.

What is the most important skill we should be teaching our students today?

I believe the soft skills of effective communication and understanding how to generate buy-in and support of a decision or strategy are key to almost any career path. People are often so in the weeds with managing their specific projects and responsibilities that they are unaware of the necessary context that others may need to understand a new idea. Having the ability to “build a story” when driving new initiatives is a skill that is often overlooked and, I think, extremely important.

What’s the one change you’d like to see happen in business today?

Maximizing your potential in your area of interest, while also leaving a positive legacy among your peers. I ultimately want to be known as a guy who could be depended on to drive the ship in the right direction, and do it the right way with integrity.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever gotten?

Understanding how to communicate with others of non-similar backgrounds is a continuous exercise. Racial background is one component that comes into play, but political views, religious views, past job experience (big company versus small company, for example) and others are just as important.
One of the key drivers of success is how well you, as a person of color, can connect to others outside of work, too.

What’s your one-sentence definition of success?

I actually received this advice from a fellow African-American Anderson alum: “One of the keys to maximizing your potential is to never feel completely comfortable in any job that you take on.” This seems counterintuitive, as you may equate comfort and efficiency with success; but you always want to be in a position where you are providing value to a company, even outside of your direct responsibilities. This is also critical so that you can learn and develop in new areas to become more marketable for future roles with increased responsibilities. Always take opportunities to grow, and don’t make the mistake of believing you need to be an expert in all aspects of your next job.

What are the lessons you have learned from being a person of color in leadership?

My experience as an athlete contributed to my success in business. One thing being an athlete taught me was how to deal with tough outcomes. In business, when things don’t go your way, it’s important to accept the results and still push your agenda forward. Being an athlete gave me an appreciation for team dynamics and accepting alternative opinions. In business, it’s important to understand why people may disagree with you and leverage that understanding to adapt your agenda and earn buy-in with your team. Even if you’re intelligent, if you cannot accept alterative opinions and adapt, your influence as a leader will be limited.

It is important to understand the power of being a strong supporting player. At BeachBody, I contribute to brainstorming sessions outside of the scope of my project. The ability to help others bring structure to ambiguity allows you to build your brand as a dependable leader who adds value in a variety of ways. Your willingness to contribute to other parts of the business signals a true interest and passion for your company and the space in which it operates.

 

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