by Connor Norris ’21
In March of 2019, 13 Upper School student journalists traveled to New York City to attend the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) Spring Convention. Before the conference, students had the opportunity to meet with Pine Crest alumni who work in media-related careers in the City. The alumni offered tours of their offices, spoke about their career paths, and answered students’ questions about working in media. Everyone enjoyed reminiscing about their Pine Crest experiences and reflecting upon what makes the School so special.
On March 19, 2019, four Pine Crest students were fortunate to share an afternoon with Pine Crest alumnus Grant Gittlin ’04, hear his story, and learn valuable lessons on the ins and outs of real-world business and marketing.
Grant is the Chief Growth Officer at MediaLink. Before working at the prestigious strategic advisory firm, Grant was a Pine Crest School “lifer,” or someone who attends Pine Crest from pre-kindergarten through grade twelve. In his high school days, Grant shined as the president of the student body and president of the student council. He was a part of many clubs and loved playing lacrosse.
After he graduated, Grant attended Princeton University as a political science major. Despite what his major may suggest, Grant landed a job at a Connecticut hedge fund, what he considered an incredible first job out of college. It was an important learning experience for Grant. It taught him that he would be better off doing something that he loved, rather than something he did simply for the money. Off on his quest for his perfect fit, Grant encountered an opportunity when one of his friends recommended him for a job with Michael Kassan, chairman, CEO and founder of MediaLink. The two hit it off, and eight years into his work at the company, Grant loves what he does.
The team at MediaLink is creating a different business model for advertising. They seek to deeply understand why companies market the way they do, and why they make certain advertising business decisions. Grant likes that in his company, they focus on building their credibility, not on just consulting for others.
One of the most important pieces of advice Grant shared with us was “you have to love what you do.” It was no secret in his case.
When we met him, his bright-eyed and vibrant recount of stories about his job made it evident that his passion for his work is what makes him so successful. We all sat engaged in conversation for the entire length of the meeting, as he made the logistics of marketing sound easy and fun to a group of high school journalists.
Grant highlighted the importance of making connections and staying connected. Being introduced to someone or something by a person you trust gives you a head start on a decision process. You do not have to doubt their worth. You know it is good. That is why for Grant, building credibility, being the source of trustworthy information is key.
He wrapped up by highlighting the importance of the human factor. “Work for someone who knows people,” said Grant. He shared that a leader who understands people will better ensure digital transfers, post-merger integrity, cost savings, and organizational design. “Everything is possible,” he said. “Take what hasn’t been done and apply the rules of something that works really well.”
Reminiscing on his Pine Crest days, Grant recalls Dr. Dana Markham, now Pine Crest’s President, playing an important role in his life and remembers great friends, great teachers, and great classes.
“Art history was the single best course I ever took,” he said with a grin. His relentless creativity and friendly approach wowed all our minds making us feel that we left that office with a new friend.
Editor’s note: Since our visit, Grant has transitioned into an advisory role for MediaLink and co-founded TADA, a holding company focused on behavioral wellness.