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Targeting Talent

April 1, 2020 Jim Warner

UofL alum and El Toro cofounder David Stadler’s office overlooks a sea of computers streaming data. “I don’t need a typical intern. I need full-time employees.”

The open floorplan below teems with activity—energy and enthusiasm palpable when you step in the office space. This frenetic kineticism is a product of business El Toro trades in, where analytics powers targeted online marketing services for a multitude of businesses. Demand for what El Toro supplies has grown steadily with little sign of slowing down.

As El Toro projects adding an additional 400 jobs in their next growth period, the company needs a steady talent pipeline.  

Enter the UofL MSBA internship program.

“I think the MSBA program goes out of its way to put resources and training curriculum in place that the business community specifically requests.” Stadler has built a rapport with the College beyond being an alum—offering insights into the tech demands businesses like El Toro need to stay innovative. It is one of many relationships the school has built over the past few years, ensuring students are graduating with an in-demand skill set.

One of the centerpieces to the MSBA program, the College’s internship program provides students the opportunity to apply their coursework in the workday setting. It’s very much a learn-today/apply-tomorrow environment, and is reflected in the pool of interns working at El Toro.

“It’s a collaborative environment both at El Toro and the classroom,” says UofL intern Chris Spurlock, one of seven MSBA interns working at El Toro. “We’re able to talk about class at work. It almost feels like an unfair advantage.”

The interns are encouraged to talk about their classes while at work as it immediately impacts their day to day jobs. It also increases professional development and makes for a more productive workday.

Mari Humberg had been with El Toro before entering the MSBA program. She currently serves as Director of Ad Operations. “We’re not just coworkers We do all kinds of things outside of work together…it’s a real big family and a group of people who really enjoy each other’s company.” Several members of the Ad-Ops team are/have been MSBA interns.

MSBA intern and Ad-Ops team member Praveena Vutchula emigrated with her husband to the Louisville area in 2019 to pursue an MSBA. Being able to make the classwork real has made all the difference to her at El Toro. “I know coding but not always [when to apply it]. What I learn at school is what I actually do… You also get to see the business challenges—and get to be a problem solver.”

Fellow Ad-Ops team member Joe Prather adds, “Having people going through the process with you is a huge advantage. I work with the smartest people in the world and then turn around and go to school with them.” The MSBA is a second act-career for Prather, who is a retired public school teacher. He has developed a close friendship with Vutchula sharing stories of their families and learning about each other’s cultures as they carpool from El Toro to school.

“We pretty much started at our internship a week apart,” says Prather. “Praveena’s husband was making a trip that was over an hour just to come back [to Louisville] pick her up and take her to class…I said I’m heading in the same direction, so we just started driving to class together after work.” A Louisville native Joe has learned a lot about Indian culture, politics, education, and food, and vice-versa.

“I ask a lot of questions,” says Praveena. “What’s Super Bowl? Joe, what’s everything…and throughout the drive, he just keeps talking about them… I got to experience snow for the first time in November. I was super excited.”

To date, El Toro has retained about 80% of the interns they’ve hired due in large part, posits David Stadler, to their education at UofL. “I find that my interns understand their products and audience very well,” says Stadler. “The College of Business produces [employees] that the business community has a demand for…They’re very responsive. It’s incredible how nimble they [the College] are with this program.”

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