The Alumni Association recently got a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to design and market some of the best-known animated characters in the video game industry. The work of alumna Jen Kulm Rohr ’98, online marketing producer at Pokémon Company International, is recognized globally and loved by millions of children and adults alike. Take a look at how her career path led to her current position in the industry.

Alumni Association: Can you describe what your job entails?

Jen: My role at The Pokémon Company International is to manage the planning and production of marketing mobile apps as well as marketing website projects. I work with internal stakeholders as well as external vendor partners in the creation and updating of these marketing products.

Alumni Association: How has your career path led you to your current job?

Jen: After I graduated from UMass with an advertising, public relations and consumer studies BDIC degree, I began my career media planning and later in account management. Early on, digital advertising and website marketing was a minor part of the marketing conversation. As time went on, digital advertising became a bigger part of my overall responsibilities.  

Upon moving from Boston to Seattle in 2006, I took a position at a digital marketing studio where I worked as an account supervisor in their digital advertising department. About a year later I decided to take the leap from advertising to a producer role.  In this new role, I was responsible for the production of marketing websites, games and mobile apps for clients such as Mattel, Nintendo and Disney. 

After over 15 years on the agency side, I made the switch to client-side and enthusiastically accepted a position at Pokémon.

Alumni Association: What advice can you give to folks looking to get into your industry?

Jen:  There are so many options within the video game industry so this is a difficult question to answer. However, I’m going to borrow some advice that I feel is spot on: In this industry there are 2 tracks: Development and Marketing. Pick the track you want to go into and stick to it. Find your talent within that track.  Ask yourself where you can be mobile within that track.

Alumni Association: What do you feel is the best part of working in your industry? What has been the most challenging or surprising?

Jen:  The best part of working in this industry is the people. Some of the most creative, generous and wonderful people work in gaming. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a stereotypical person who works in this field.  I also love the reaction that I get when I tell people, especially kids, that I work for Pokémon.

The most challenging and surprising isn’t so much specific to the gaming industry, but working at a globally focused company. Inter-organizational communications can be difficult.

Alumni Association: What is evolving as the future direction of your industry?

Jen:  The breadth of our audience is expanding and our brand is more accessible to more people. Mobile is expanding the market in general and for Pokémon.

A great example of this is Pokémon – Go which will put Pokémon in people’s hands via a mobile phone and expand beyond those who have a Nintendo DS.  Pokémon TCGO (Trading Card Game Online) gives people a new way to play. They can now play anywhere with people from all over the world.

Another example is licensing. Pokémon products are going beyond toys and beyond a boy-focus and into fashion and home.

Alumni Association: Who is your favorite character that you’ve worked on and why?

Jen:  Obviously Pikachu! Not only is Pikachu adorable and fun, but is so beloved around the world!

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Jen Kulm Rohr on LinkedIn.