UCLA - B.S. in Anthropology
Loyola Marymount University - MBA with an emphasis in Marketing
If you like to attend events, promote events and host events, Leila Najafi has your dream job. As the LA marketing manager for Eventbrite, Leila spends her days and evenings attending everything from wine tastings to art shows to tech conferences. It sounds pretty fabulous, right? But Leila's career path hasn't always been the perfect fit. For years she attended dental school — even getting into her dream program at UCLA. But after much soul-searching, Leila decided pursuing a job she once thought was her dream, just wasn't a fit anymore. And despite the fact that she's a self-professed "planner," Leila pulled out of dental school with no plan. But it was just the right move to bring her to her job now. We'll let you read more about how she made her career leap below, because Leila shows if you follow your heart you don't only land on your feet, but you end up on your feet wearing some pretty fabulous shoes as well.
I always ask myself, 'How can I help this person, and how can they help me?'
How did you discover your current job?
I heard of Eventbrite, so I decided to go on the company’s website to see if they were hiring, and just by browsing their website I could tell it was a really cool place to work. They are based in San Francisco, but ironically they were hiring the one and only LA position at the time -- the LA marketing manager! I applied for the position and 13 interviews later, I landed the job and feel like I have found my dream job!
What has been your path so far to get you where you are today?
While I was in undergrad at UCLA, I was pursuing a career in dentistry. It only seemed logical since my father is a dentist, and I always admired health professionals. After years of hard work and studying, I was accepted to one of the most prestigious dental schools in the U.S. (and my dream program), the UCLA School of Dentistry. I enrolled in the program and completed over a year of coursework until I realized that I was in the wrong profession. It took me months of sleepless nights and a LOT of soul-searching to finally make the decision to withdraw from the program. I have never looked back and can confidently say that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life! Just 10 months later, I was enrolled in business school and working for a Fortune 50 company (Johnson & Johnson)!
I had always been the planner type and knew exactly what my next move would be. The day after I withdrew, I had no idea what the future held, but I knew that it was no reason to stay in something that made me miserable. Today, I have found my dream job, and I love what I do! I still don’t know what the future holds, but I’m perfectly fine with that, because I know that when you do what you love, you will succeed and other opportunities will come your way.
Was there any one situation that helped you along your way?
Yes! When I was at UCLA, I started a student organization called The Pre-Dental Student Outreach Program (PDSOP) and it was very much like starting a business from ground up. Ironically, it was through the organization that I would later realize what my true calling is. I am a true social butterfly and I needed to find a job where I can have autonomy but also tap into my passion for people, social settings and how I could utilize my resources to be a resource for others. The marketing manager position was calling my name and I really couldn’t have written a better job description for myself!
What is your typical day like? Does it ever change?
I definitely don’t have a “typical” day. Every day is different, and that’s what keeps my job so exciting! One day I could be at a wine tasting event and the next at a tech conference. You never know what your week is going to look like! Every day is a new adventure.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Some could argue that I’m a brand ambassador for Eventbrite. It’s pretty cool (and easy, I must say) to attend events and promote a great product that people love. Every day I get to meet so many different people from a variety of industries, and it exposes me to all the different jobs out there. I also love the part of my job where I get to plan events. From the beginning, I have a vision and I get to watch all the planning come to fruition. It’s a lot of work, but it’s so rewarding to know that you hosted a successful event that brought people together and where everyone had fun!
What is the most challenging part?
I wouldn’t say it’s a challenge, but one of the tough things about working remotely at such an awesome company is that I don’t get to interact with the fabulous team everyday that has created the best company culture I’ve ever seen!
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
What you gain in any job is directly proportional to how much effort you put in. As part of my job, I have to network and meet people at events that I attend. I always ask myself, "How can I help this person, and how can this person help me?"
Who are your role models?
As cliché as it sounds, one of my role models is Oprah Winfrey. She is an amazing woman who has overcome so many obstacles in her life and is now one of the most powerful women in the world.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Follow your passion and dreams. When you’re passionate about what you do, it never feels like work. Everyone has a calling and once you figure out what that is, you’re golden.
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
Always go after what you want, and never settle for anything less! Put your dreams out there and let it be known to others. You never know who can help you get to your end goal!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Eventbrite is hiring new event marketing managers around the country! If you think you have what it takes to be an EE, then send us your resume! We’re hiring EEs in London and D.C., and we’re growing rapidly, so check our site for new openings!