"I couldn't really see myself working for someone else in a conventional ‘9-5' setting." – Camala Beek
Camala Beek, who graduated from Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations in fall 2010, is starting a branding business after working as a content and marketing manager for an online video industry start-up company in Berlin.
While the company has yet to be named, the concept is clear: helping amateur and professional athletes worldwide with personal branding and self-marketing.
Ms. Beek and her business partner, an Orlando, Fla., resident she met on a train in Berlin, have registered as a limited liability company and are waiting to see how it "organically develops over the next couple months."
The duo is developing a software and mobile app solution that is designed to "streamline athlete-to-coach, athlete-to-agent and coach-to-parent (for youth teams) communication."
The ENMU graduate's initial idea for the business came from her experience with athletics in Europe and from watching "some of the professional basketball players in Germany essentially waste their time abroad by not integrating into their local communities or cultures, which would ultimately be to their benefit both professionally and personally."
Ms. Beek said she "never really saw myself as someone who would pursue the idea of building my own company; it took me several more years before this idea even crossed my mind."
She considered self-employment after living in the "start-up capital of Europe; Berlin is a creative city where everyone is either building or working for some sort of start-up.
Her work with a start-up company gave her a taste of "what it was like to work for myself while being able to enjoy the flexibility of life as a freelancer.
"I couldn't really see myself working for someone else in a conventional ‘9-5' setting. To me, it's become the difference between just ‘existing' and truly ‘living.'"
Living abroad for five years gave her a "hunger to continue to travel, to learn more and to continuously evolve. In that sense, working in a corporate setting just didn't seem right.
"It's key to understand that literally everything goes hand-in-hand with one another, from the visual branding, to the strategic concept, tone of voice, SEO, online and offline communications, public image and so forth, each of which can be their own specialties in themselves," she said of her job duties.
"As a consultant, what I often am needed for is to come in and do an initial evaluation of the brand or personal image, determine whether or not it needs to be improved and then ensure that all communication, visuals and actions are consistent and effective," said Ms. Beek, whose hometown is Cheyenne Wells, Colo.
The CEO talked about being a female in the world of business: her 6-foot height gives her a "presence in a room that makes people more likely to listen to my ideas and respect them, but she is still seen as "just a girl" in certain situations.
Her background in personal branding gave Ms. Beek a "pretty strong sense of how to best present myself in a given situation, which can be both fun and challenging, but also it can be extremely frustrating."
The business owner's previous work experience includes serving as a PR consultant in the Sports and Entertainment division for an international PR agency and as a marketing communications specialist and copywriter for an international PR and marketing agency near Frankfurt.
Ms. Beek said her "goals are hard to solidify; they are always changing, but, for the time being, they are to create a situation for myself where I can have the flexibility to work world-wide, whether that be for a client on location, or being able to take my work with me wherever I choose."
She wants to work with amateur athletes to "brand themselves to success" while abroad and assist professional athletes and their agencies to "build brand equity off-the-court that will create opportunities that could lead to a sustainable future, post-sports."
An athlete herself, Ms. Beek chose to attend ENMU because she was offered an opportunity to play collegiate volleyball (plus, it was out-of-state and offered her major).
The choir participant chose communication as a degree because she "always had a knack" for writing and it was a "blanket degree" for getting to work with people.
"I always was a natural writer, and I chose to simply embrace that skill," added Ms. Beek, whose mother was an English major who raised the now-CEO to be a writer.
ENMU helped the world-traveler, whose hobbies include coloring children's books, playing volleyball at the beach, shooting hoops, practicing piano and couch-surfing in foreign countries, "piece together" how she could market and brand herself into new opportunities.
She has taken her story from a "small town to Division II athletics and transcribed it into a career that I can share with others who may be in a similar situation.
"I never would be standing where I am today without the people I met or the experiences I went through at ENMU," explained Ms. Beek. "I think my time at Eastern showed me the value of networking, something I'm good at. I am still in contact with many professors and staff members."
"At this point, I have absolutely no idea if I will succeed or fail. I'm moving back to the USA this month to at least try!"
A recent interview with Dr. Mark Roberson of PPD Mag (personal player development) led the ENMU graduate to writing a memoir. Dr. Roberson was inspired by Ms. Beek's story of playing Division II athletics and using that label to land an international sports marketing internship while playing semi-professionally. She helped him with some of the strategic branding and identity of his own project, while he helped her "realize just what I was; a brand strategist. Along with that opportunity came the invitation to write a chapter for his project, "The Institute for Personal Player Development," which will be translated into an accredited online course for professionals looking to specifically work with athletes in January 2016 at www.ppdmag.com."