Stax Alumni Stories: Ted Ekkers
Since the start of the century, Ted Ekkers has been at the forefront of transforming big data into insights that drive corporate marketing strategies at companies like Target and Polaris. Ted’s journey began at Stax, providing him an early experience that continues to shape his professional life and approach to business.
A new career path
A year after graduating college with a degree in Engineering, Ted realized his passion lay elsewhere and knew he needed a change. In 1999, Ted successfully applied for a contract job with Stax and after proving himself in a short period of time, was offered a full-time analyst role with the firm where he stayed until 2002. Ted maintains that during his tenure at Stax, the experience provided an invaluable foundation in developing consumer insights. Stax is where Ted “caught the research bug,” a distinction that has since inspired his professional life.
When Ted looks back on his years at Stax, valuable skillsets he fostered stand out. Working with colleagues at Stax, Ted became a dexterous problem solver working on projects in niche industries that required creative solutions, quickly — because speed to insights is one of Stax’s calling cards. Being scrappy and fast paced was necessary in order to find solutions that were analytically disciplined and actionable. Today, Ted’s impulse is still to find creative solutions rather than just throw money at a problem — a valuable way of thinking, regardless of the situation.
Perhaps the most significant skill he developed was the ability to translate data into stories. According to Ted, Stax helped him master the art of unpacking findings for clients and conveying a compelling story that accurately relays the data. This is an exceedingly valuable skill across industries, however outside of consulting it isn’t readily taught or learned.
Ted’s favorite part of working at Stax was the diversity of clients and project types. During his time with the firm, Ted managed projects in industries one might expect from a consulting firm, like those in financial services and retail, and industries one might not think about, such as funeral homes, chicken feed systems, padlocks, motorsports and catalogs. The range of projects also varied, from fast paced due diligence projects over a month, to lengthier strategy projects lasting up to three months.
From Stax, Ted worked his way through the ranks for a decade to become a key member of marketing operations and analytics group at Target before tackling his current role at Polaris as Senior Marketing Insights Leader. But no matter what sort of challenge he faces today, Ted always comes back to the same starting point he found at Stax: finding the first-hand knowledge necessary to make decisions and provide informed counsel.
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