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Grad André Moraes on Why Moonshots Matter

The multifaceted career of Google's André Moraes

André Moraes is a Principal Analytical Lead at Google. He also speaks five languages, is a Fulbright Scholar, founded his own marketing agency, and is an adjunct professor at New York University. But his career path is also impressive, in part, because it's multifaceted. André has worked across industries and earned multiple degrees to build a complex set of skills.

That began with an Honors Bachelor's of Science in Finance from Fairfield University (along with two more degrees in German and Jazz Performance, but who's counting?). André believed starting with finance would give him a better understanding of how companies operated, which would give him a good foundation for a career in marketing — his true passion.

"My thought originally was always to go into marketing and advertising from a creative side of things," he explains. "But as I started to go deeper and deeper into it and go through the program at Full Sail, I realized that I had a passion for working in the analytics space and with insights."

André says he chose Full Sail to earn his Master's in Digital Marketing while running his own business and traveling abroad for work. "It was difficult to find a program that would allow me the flexibility to continue working overseas and to continue to learn through actually doing my job, but at the same time, to get a quality education and a degree."

He says one thing he learned at Full Sail has stuck with him the most over the years: The data doesn't change. His professor explained they weren't just going to learn the popular tools of the trade — things like Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics. They were going to learn the concepts and theory of data first.

"He said that the tools are going to change, and your interface is going to change, and everything changes, but the data doesn't change. So if you can know the theory behind it, if you understand it, and we can get to the root first, I can show you any tool, and within a couple of minutes you'll learn the interface and you'll learn how to get the data," says André. It's a lesson André now teaches to graduate students at NYU.

After working for investment firms, working for himself, and graduating from Full Sail, André went on to work for Penguin Random House, Omnicom Media Group, and eventually Google. It's a career path that's introduced him to the worlds of finance, publishing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, retail, pod computing, and food and beverage. At the same time, it's given him experience both on the client side and agency side of his work -- an experience that's made him a more well-rounded marketer.

"What I've learned through all these industries is, whenever you go into a new industry, it's important to really immerse yourself in it, to learn as much as possible, to talk to people about it, to consult with others that are in your network or that you can meet from outside your network through other people," he explains.

At Google, André puts his wide-ranging career experience to work as the head of consumer insights and market intelligence for the food and beverage industry. It's placed him in a position to advise some of the biggest companies in the world, from Coca-Cola to Anheuser-Busch, on how their customers shop and what their customers want.

Using anonymized data from Google, he analyzes consumer behavior to help these company's advertisers understand how people purchase their products and why. "So everything from the last-minute decision you make at an aisle at the grocery store to buy a piece of chocolate or a planned purchase that you're ordering online."

Another side of his job focuses on market behavior: understanding the client's entire landscape, the trends, and how they can grow their business. And finally, he's even gotten involved in some product development. For example, he says, "They'll turn to us and say, 'Hey, as Google, you have a lot of data, what can you tell us should be a flavor of a drink that we should launch next year?'."

Even with all of his accomplishments, it's not lost on André that landing a job at a place like Google with a notoriously competitive hiring pool can seem like an unattainable goal. "I actually wrote down for myself the moonshot of one day I want to work at Google," he says. "And I worked towards that." Over the years, he always tried to talk to people who worked at Google and kept up with articles about what the company was doing.

"I did research to figure out, 'Okay, how can I get there? What kind of work do I need to do that will set me up well for this?'." He says that goal-setting motivated him and confirmed his passion for working in marketing and analytics. And that for many people, the journey towards a big, audacious goal can open up different avenues for what they really enjoy.

"The one advice I would give, is if you have a moonshot, chase it, and keep your eyes open to anything that you might find on that journey that will actually be a more passionate element for you. I would say that if something sounds like a moonshot, you're going in the right direction."

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