Career Conversations Series: Meet the Expert! Forging a New Path with Joon Park

Dec 7, 2021
Written by CJ

Junction Live host and CJ's Global SVP of Marketing, Nicole Ron, is joined by CJ Client Development Manager, Joon Park to kick off the first part of Meet the Expert, our four-part career conversation mini-series in which we connect with CJ'ers from across departments and functions to learn about their current roles, career progression, and get a glimpse into what life is like at CJ. Joon takes us through his career (past, present, and future), company culture, and why he has a love/hate relationship with reading books.


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cj-affiliate-2021-nicole-ron-button-headshotNicole Ron, Global SVP, Marketing, CJ
cj-affiliate-2021-joon-park-headshot Joon Park, Client Development Manager, CJ




Junction Live: taking thought leadership off the page and into the studio with some of the sharpest minds in affiliate marketing.

NICOLE RON: 00:12 | Hello and welcome to Meet the Expert, a career conversation miniseries in which we connect with CJ’ers from across the globe in a variety of roles to learn about their current roles, career progression, and to get a glimpse into what life is like at CJ. Today, we're joined by Joon Park, a Client Development Manager in Santa Barbara, California. Let's find out a bit more about Joon. All right. My first question is hopefully an easy one. Help me understand, what does a typical day look like for you?

JOON PARK: 00:42 | That's a really good question because I feel like the days tend to change depending on what the clients need and depending on, I guess, a general meeting schedule. It varies quite a bit. But I think on any given day, we'll have a good balance of meetings, a good balance of client calls, and more task-focused, more task-related items, and just a lot of interaction between myself and my team members.

NICOLE RON: 01:09 | Very cool. And is the role that you started in the role that you're in now?

JOON PARK: 01:14 | No. So, I actually started at CJ a couple of years back as a client partnerships associate, I think there's a current designation for the role now. I started at the entry-level of client development.

NICOLE RON: 01:27 | Very cool. And tell me a little bit about how you've gotten to where you are. What's your career progression been like and what's your experience so far been?

JOON PARK: 01:35 | I started at the entry-level position of a CPA. I worked with a couple of different accounts and eventually settled on one. I worked on a lot of major retailers and a couple of different brands, and eventually, I got enough confidence and started diving into the higher-level partnerships or the top-tier partnerships, as we like to call them. And as I got more experienced, I felt like that's kind of the next jump that I wanted to make. And I was in that role for about two years, and I realized that more of my passion lied within sort of the career development and team operations or sort of team management perspective. I would think client dev. So just kind of try to get as much experience as I could within those areas. And in the last year, I was able to make that jump to the manager position.

NICOLE RON: 02:24 | Very cool. Congratulations.

JOON PARK: 02:25 | Thank you.

NICOLE RON: 02:26 | Yeah, of course. I am excited to hear, what motivates you about CJ?

JOON PARK: 02:34 | I feel like this is going to be pretty cliché or corny because I feel like a lot of people have the same perspective, but the people around me, I think, were the biggest motivators for me. I think that's kind of where I found my passion and team development was the sort of development and the focus in the time and energy spent towards developing my own career, from my managers and from people that were senior. So that became sort of my extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, was to try and get to the point where I could help others, very similar to the way that I was helped and sort of brought up within the company.

NICOLE RON: 03:09 | That's awesome. I know that's the reason I've been here for a million years as well, is I just love the people. It's a great culture and a great community. On that note, though, what challenges you the most with CJ?

JOON PARK: 03:24 | I think the biggest challenge, at least from my position, is probably the client-facing perspective. I think not every one client or not every contact is the same. So, learning to sort of balance that and understand sort of the needs and different needs that each client or contact needs is probably the thing that took me the longest to learn, but I'm glad to have had those opportunities and those experiences. But yeah, I feel like that's, day-to-day, the most challenging part still for me is developing those skills in those areas.

NICOLE RON: 03:53 | Got it. And what's something that — and it could be akin to this question that you just answered. What's something that you've learned on the job that you wish you had known earlier?

JOON PARK: 04:04 | The preparation that you kind of need and sort of the background knowledge that developed in affiliate over time. I think coming out of college or coming out of your first job out of college, you don't really understand or really know what affiliate marketing is, what it takes, and kind of what your role is within the company once you first start. I wish I sort of had more of that background knowledge or more of that understanding as I started my career. But I think CJ also does a great job of sort of developing that knowledge and that understanding over time, and you definitely get a lot of real-life or real-world experiences along the way. So, fortunately, I was able to stick with it, but having that background or that base knowledge early on would have been a huge help for me.

NICOLE RON: 04:48 | Oh, totally. I always tell new hires and I remember it like it was yesterday coming into the job. I remember after the first month I was like, "Nothing is sticking for me." And my boss was like, "No, it's going to take you a few months until it starts to really sink in, and then someday it's going to click," and sure enough, it did. So, I think that that experience is a pretty typical one. Knowing that what is a piece of advice that you have for somebody either looking at CJ or coming into CJ for the first time?

JOON PARK: 05:23 | I think the big thing for me was just to not be afraid to make mistakes. I feel like very early on in my career, especially considering my background coming from more, they were also entry-level positions but were more focused on the restaurant business or general customer-facing, consumer-facing roles at similar stages, but not quite the same. So not being afraid to make mistakes and learn on the job was a big thing for me because I feel like in a restaurant setting or when you're a waiter, doing those types of jobs, it can be your mistakes are almost emphasized or put under a microscope. I think at CJ there's definitely a learning curve or a large learning curve that is really good for you in a lot of ways. So, your managers, your co-workers, your colleagues are all there to sort of support you, and it took me a little bit to realize that, but that's probably the biggest takeaway and some of the things that I would want to focus on is just don't be afraid to make mistakes and definitely try to learn from them as much as possible.

NICOLE RON: 06:24 | Great advice. Okay. So, kind of sticking on or going a slightly different route, I'm curious. You mentioned that you came from the restaurant business and that media really wasn't the career path that you were on. Talk to me a little bit about what you did before your time in CJ, and then ultimately, how did you find us?

JOON PARK: 06:44 | Yeah, absolutely. So, I think I started right out of college or during college with my parents' business. They owned a restaurant. Working with your parents and just working in the restaurant industry as a whole can be pretty challenging. It's pretty demanding, but I feel like having that experience let me know that I didn't want to do that long-term. I didn't want to go down the same path as my parents. I was able to get some internship experience at a couple of different corporate companies. Worked at HR at a hotel in California for a little bit. And eventually, I was just kind of looking for something within digital marketing, something where I wanted to leverage a little bit more of my communication skills, which led me to CJ where I feel like those communication skills have definitely developed over time. But a lot of the day-to-day and sort of development that I went through was a lot more focused on analytics and data and things of that nature.

NICOLE RON: 07:39 | Very cool. How would you describe CJ's culture?

JOON PARK: 07:45 | CJ's culture is very unique. It's very interesting that there is sort of a corporate element to it, but it's more casual. It's more laid back. I feel like I feel very comfortable around my co-workers. I can kind of talk to them about things outside of work, about things related to work. And everyone seems very approachable, I think, is the best terminology to use. And I just love that about the company atmosphere. I feel like I'm never afraid to ask questions with people that I've never even met before in the company because every experience that I've had interacting with people has been a pleasant experience for me.

NICOLE RON: 08:24 | That's great to hear. And you can be honest on this one too, you're not going to hurt my feelings, but what has your experience with the CJ leadership team been like?

JOON PARK: 08:33 | It's been incredible, honestly. I used to work in a little pod when I first started behind the VP or the President of the company as well as the Group Director and the Director of HR. So, I was able to get a few tidbits or a little bit of interaction here and there, and every interaction that I had with them was positive. They'd ask me about my day, they'd ask me about what I was working on, and it just made me feel more involved within the company. As big as the company is, it felt more like a small startup, which I definitely enjoyed.

NICOLE RON: 09:10 | What's one of the biggest hurdles that you've had to overcome to get to where you are in your career today?

JOON PARK: 09:18 | I think I was alluding to it earlier and I probably said it pretty explicitly, but just getting out of the mentality of being afraid to make mistakes or being scared to admit to making mistakes. I think once I was able to kind of get over that mental hurdle of it's all right if you mess something up as long as you're more solution-focused, was sort of the turning point for myself. Rather than, I guess, focusing on the fact that I made a mistake by moving on and sort of thinking about the issue or the problem in a solution-oriented way, I think it kind of completely changed my perspective on how I was working or how work was entirely for me as a concept. So that's the biggest thing for me, and I'll repeat it again, but that was the biggest takeaway, for sure.

NICOLE RON: 10:07 | Yeah. That's a great learning. And do you feel like the environment is conducive to being able to learn and iterate along the way?

JOON PARK: 10:16 | Yeah, absolutely. And I think leadership and also just your managers and your co-workers repeat that and that's—even if they tell you directly, it takes a little bit to register. I think that's kind of what happened with me. It's understandable that people make mistakes, especially in the environment that we work in. It's a lot of different learnings, a lot of different types of tasks or daily things that you do. So, as you're going through those processes and as you're going through even if I make a mistake that there are always solutions to it and to always be focused more on the solution than the problem.

NICOLE RON: 10:50 | Totally. Makes sense. Yeah. And with such a dynamic industry and company and product and everything else that comes along, and it's like the environment we're in is this ever-learning environment where that's bound to happen. It's hard to be perfect when what we're working on is always changing. So that's good to hear. How does CJ support you as a person in your job?

JOON PARK: 11:18 | I feel like it keeps me grounded in a lot of ways. The fact that I started as the sort of entry-level position in the department that I started at to progress until I've moved up as I have, it reminds me that the people that I work with, the people that I am now helping to manage or keep on track day-to-day, I was in those positions. I was in those scenarios and I had those experiences to sort of relate back to them. And it's all very nostalgic, I think, is the word. Just being able to look back and kind of see how much I've developed over time, it's a really good feeling.

NICOLE RON: 12:01 | That's awesome. Yeah. I feel like I can kind of live vicariously again through what you're experiencing. I mean, I started in the company on my own as similar, a very entry-level position, and just had wonderful mentors and wonderful opportunities. So, it's fun to get to help others make a similar career leap along.

JOON PARK: 12:24 | Oh, yeah.

NICOLE RON: 12:25 | Very cool. What's your proudest moment that you've had at CJ?

JOON PARK: 12:32 | The proudest moment. I feel like I have to go all the way back. This was during my first big client presentation. I had never experienced it. I had never worked on a QBR deck, and I think the feeling of gratification after the many hours spent on a presentation to go through the one or two slides that I had to speak to and kind of getting over the sort of nerves, I think that was one of my favorite moments at CJ and that's kind of when I realized that I wanted to do this more as a long-term role than something temporary.

NICOLE RON: 13:08 | All right. Thanks so much for sharing a bit about your experience as a CJ’er. Now, let's dive into a few rapid-fire questions. The goal of this segment is to get to know you a little bit better, so answer these questions as quickly as possible with the first thing that comes to mind. All right. Here we go. What is your favorite place you've ever visited?

JOON PARK: 13:29 | My favorite place that I've ever visited is definitely South Korea. I went back to my parents' homes. So, my mom lived kind of in the city and my dad lived in sort of the countryside, more rural areas.

NICOLE RON: 13:41 | How do you like your eggs?

JOON PARK: 13:43 | I love my eggs sunny side up.

NICOLE RON: 13:46 | What is your favorite childhood movie?

JOON PARK: 13:50 | I think it's The Lion King.

NICOLE RON: 13:53 | What's your biggest pet peeve?

JOON PARK: 13:56 | My biggest pet peeve. It's a little bit of a weird one. The noise that people make when they turn pages, it's just something about it irks me. They're all wired and it's just, I can't stand the noise. It's like scratching chalkboards.

NICOLE RON: 14:12 | What's your favorite holiday?

JOON PARK: 14:15 | My favorite holiday is probably Christmas just because I get to spend the most time with my family around that time.

NICOLE RON: 14:22 | What are you reading right now?

JOON PARK: 14:24 | The Count of Monte Cristo.

NICOLE RON: 14:25 | Got it. And does the page-turning sound bother you when you're doing it or only when other people?

JOON PARK: 14:29 | Oh, yeah, it gives me chills when I do that.

NICOLE RON: 14:34 | What's your favorite band?

JOON PARK: 14:36 | My favorite artist of all time is Kanye West.

NICOLE RON: 14:39 | Oh, nice. Okay. Favorite breakfast cereal.

JOON PARK: 14:42 | I'm more of a Captain Crunch person now.

NICOLE RON: 14:45 | I like Captain Crunch. That's a good one. Favorite board game?

JOON PARK: 14:48 | It's a board game called Gloomhaven. I’ve been playing with some co-workers actually in the Santa Barbara office.

NICOLE RON: 14:55 | All right. And if you could teach one subject in school, what would it be?

JOON PARK: 15:00 | It would probably be English writing and rhetoric, which is what I majored in.

NICOLE RON: 15:05 | What's something that you can't do?

JOON PARK: 15:08 | I actually cannot ride a bike. I never learned as a kid.

NICOLE RON: 15:13 | Favorite food?

JOON PARK: 15:15 | Favorite food is a well-cooked steak. Not well done, just well-cooked.

NICOLE RON: 15:19 | Well-prepared. Okay. And least favorite food?

JOON PARK: 15:22 | Least favorite food would probably have to be beans.

NICOLE RON: 15:26 | Favorite Disney character?

JOON PARK: 15:29 | I guess under the theme of The Lion King, I'll go with Simba.

NICOLE RON: 15:33 | And name a place that you want to visit.

JOON PARK: 15:36 | I want to visit Japan, I've actually never been. I've only ever heard great things.

NICOLE RON: 15:41 | What's something you wish you could be good at?

JOON PARK: 15:45 | I wish I could be good at all these video games that I play. I feel like I play a lot for fun, but I'm not quite good at all of them.

NICOLE RON: 15:52 | All right. First celebrity crush?

JOON PARK: 15:55 | My first celebrity crush was Scarlett Johansson.

NICOLE RON: 15:59 | What's your guilty pleasure?

JOON PARK: 16:01 | My guilty pleasure is, honestly, after a day of work, I like to do almost nothing, just kind of be a potato.

NICOLE RON: 16:09 | Do you have any nicknames?

JOON PARK: 16:12 | Junebug. JP. Those are the first ones that come to mind.

NICOLE RON: 16:17 | Those are good ones. What's your favorite sport?

JOON PARK: 16:21 | I love watching American football.

NICOLE RON: 16:23 | Is there one item that you could never live without?

JOON PARK: 16:27 | Probably my laptop or my computer.

NICOLE RON: 16:30 | Let's see. What chore do you hate doing?

JOON PARK: 16:32 | I hate hanging up clothes. I enjoy the laundry, I like folding, but I hate the actual process of hanging dress shirts and things of that nature.

NICOLE RON: 16:41 | What's your dream car?

JOON PARK: 16:44 | Whatever the new Tesla Model is, I'm honestly not super big into cars.

NICOLE RON: 16:48 | And what's your best feature?

JOON PARK: 16:51 | I want to say my communication skills.

NICOLE RON: 16:54 | Awesome. That's a wrap. Thanks for joining us today. If you enjoyed this episode of Meet the Expert, a podcast mini-series, be sure to check out the rest of our Meet the Expert series on Junction.


If you enjoyed this episode and are curious to know more about this topic and many others, check us out at junction.cj.com or find CJ on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.

Topics: CJ Life,
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