Secrets of a successful entrepreneur: Hult alum Pamela Wagner makes Forbes top 30 under 30
Celebrating our newest alumni addition to the Forbes list of “30 under 30”—we caught up with Pamela Wagner from Hult’s Master of International Business Class of 2014, who made this prestigious list within just three years of graduating.
Congratulations on the amazing achievement! Please share your secret with us—how did you do it?
Thank you! I made it a goal of mine over the past year or so. Last year, I applied for their annual EMEA conference, which is held in Israel. It is a great place to network and to meet people from the magazine, which is also why I came back this year. Through continuously advancing my own business and skills, as well as a combination of networking, engaging, and positive visualization, the magazine reached out to me to be featured on the list for Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.
What have you been doing since graduation?
Peter, my Career Advisor at Hult, encouraged me to apply for a role that he found at Google, and this is really what changed the course of my life after Hult. Peter coached me through the recruitment process and—five interviews later—they offered me the role of Associate Account Strategist, based in Dublin.
While at Google, I worked with over 2,000 advertisers. As well as experiencing the business growth and sales of such a huge corporation, I gained the practical knowledge of everything from AdWords and Analytics, to Google My Business and YouTube.
I was based in Dublin and this was the first time in my life that I had moved somewhere not because of the location, but because of the company. The culture and the weather didn’t really fit with who I am, and I was not doing a great deal of travel, which I am truly passionate about.
After leaving the company, I decided to step up my own game and take the chance to work for myself. With the first projects coming in, I gave building my own company a try, and it turned out to be the right choice. I found that I could work from wherever I want, on my own terms, and live my life exactly how I want to.
So, I founded my own paid ads agency, and I’m now happier than ever!
“I work on my own terms and live my life exactly how I want to. I founded my own paid ads agency, and I’m now happier than ever!”
So, tell us more about your company.
My company—Ajala Digital—is a boutique-style global digital agency, focusing on creating outstanding Google/Facebook/LinkedIn ad strategies.
My mission is to bring back trust in digital agencies, since many people have been disappointed by false promises and low-quality work from agencies around the world. At any point in time, I work with just a handful of clients so I can really focus my energy on giving them the service and attention they need and deserve.
90% of my clients get their ads ranked in the first or second positions on Google, and I help them to spend their budget 3-5x more efficiently post-optimization. My clients are spread across 21 time zones, from Hawaii to Australia, and I’ve run campaigns in nine different languages.
I’m about to hire my first full-time staff, so I’m really buzzing about the growth that my clients are experiencing.
“90% of my clients get their ads ranked in the first or second positions on Google.”
What is a “typical” day like for you?
I value sports, so I start off with a 20-minute high-intensity training session every other morning. Then, I do meditation for about 20 minutes, using a mix of gratitude, forgiveness, visualization—whatever is important right now. Next, I have a superfood breakfast—I’m a huge health junkie!
My morning routine is really important to me. I tend to plan my meetings between Tuesdays and Thursdays so that I can maximize my output on the other days by working on client projects or studying. Currently, I’m advancing my Russian and Swahili language skills, and I also just finished a course at Stanford as part of their continuing studies program.
What keeps you awake at night?
I love that question—I usually ask my clients that! I sleep very well, but if something is keeping me awake at night it is usually idea overflow about all the wonderful opportunities in this world.
Looking back, what do you most value about your time at Hult?
The practical curriculum and the professional career guidance.
I studied business for my bachelor degree but it was mostly theory-based, so it was only during my masters that I truly came to understand and implement it.
In terms of the Career Advisors—they are not there to get you a job, they’re there to coach you and support you through the process. If you follow their advice and are committed to doing the work, then the chances are high that you’ll get the job you want after graduation.
Why did you choose to study at Hult?
Hult was a no-brainer for me—I didn’t have an international upbringing, but I was immersed in cultural diversity during my time working at AIESEC, a non-profit that provides young people global cultural experiences. I loved that environment.
I wanted linguistic and cultural challenges, plus the chance to live in a new city. I chose Dubai as my home campus and rotated to Shanghai, as I had studied Mandarin before and wanted some deeper immersion into China.
Rotation is an amazing opportunity to enrich your cultural experience and expand your network. I still think Dubai is the most global city in the world: the majority of the population are expats and everyone is keen to grow their network. The business opportunities that come out of that are incredible.
“I wanted linguistic and cultural challenges, plus the chance to live in a new city. Rotation is an amazing opportunity to enrich your cultural experience and expand your network.”
Do you still leverage the Hult network?
I’m still in touch with my fellow Hultians through social media, and I will always try to pass by the campuses when I’m in those respective cities.
In fact, a group of Hult alums were my clients recently—and this is exactly how I want my business to be, operating through referrals as this means that my clients are happy and companies are growing sustainably.
What’s your advice to incoming Hult students to maximize their experience?
Take all the help and advice on offer. If you face any challenge or problem, talk about it and ask for help. Never just complain or keep things to yourself.
If you’re not where you want to be, it’s up to you to change it. Believe in yourself, know that anything is possible, and take action! Don’t wait, “now” is always a good time.
What’s your advice to those wanting to launch their own company?
Don’t make it about the numbers—go for slow and steady growth. Trust your instincts. Having good sales skills is key—if you’re not good at sales then hire a coach. I did!
One of my mentors who still works at Google says, as the head of your own company, your primary role is to bring in new business (unless you have a person for that), so that’s what you should focus on. Focus on your clients. Not only do you get repeat business and referrals, but you also case studies for marketing, so it’s a virtuous cycle.
Integrity is vital—including honesty, dedication to quality, transparency, and doing everything in the best way you can. If you don’t have integrity then your business is not sustainable.
“If you don’t have integrity then your business is not sustainable.”
What’s next for you?
Aside from the exciting growth of Ajala Digital, I’m working on another startup. 54 Queens is a fashion accessories business blending African and Western influences. Together with my business partner in Senegal, we want to transform the popular misconceptions surrounding Africa.
To be honest, the “30 under 30” recognition came along a little earlier than expected, so I’m setting some new goals now!
Curious to read more about the career success of Hult alumni? Download our latest Global Careers Report.