In the Netflix Know

PROVO, Utah – Nov 28, 2017 – At one point in college, Ryan Harrison had no idea what he wanted to do. Little did he anticipate someday moving to Amsterdam to market movies with the world’s leading online entertainment service.

Harrison accepted a job with Netflix in October 2015, spending a year at its California office before transferring to Amsterdam in January 2017. He currently works in marketing strategy, specifically focused on the company’s presence in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

“I’ve loved it,” the BYU alum reports. “I came here because it was a great opportunity with great exposure. We’re focusing on how to grow the business in Europe.”

Prior to his work with Netflix, Harrison worked in Seattle doing strategy consulting for Deloitte. He graduated from BYU in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in economics, as well as a minor in strategy from BYU Marriott and another minor in music. After the rigorous learning experience that both BYU and consulting afforded him, Harrison felt well prepared to take on Netflix.

“The combination of strategy and economics was great preparation for what I do now,” he adds, reflecting upon his choice in study. “Strategy in particular—being able to understand the competitive landscape and moves of competitors—is important.”

Especially when you’re competing for market share with top streaming sites such as Amazon, Apple, and Hulu. Part of Harrison’s responsibilities involves analyzing data to compare marketing approaches, including the effect of billboards, TV ads, and movie or show titles in different countries.

One insight he’s gleaned? Sometimes it’s more beneficial to market a whole “basket of titles” all at once and allow algorithms to determine which title is most suited to a consumer’s attributes rather than market one popular title.

“Those optimizations are what’s exciting, along with finding things that might be kind of counterintuitive,” he says.

For the expat, the excitement of work findings doesn’t stop at 5 p.m.

“Working internationally is sometimes a challenge—just in terms of time zones,” he says. “Having a meeting at 6 p.m. is perfectly normal because people are just waking up on the West Coast in the United States, and so we’re often trying to find times that work for everyone.”

However, Harrison concludes that the benefits of working abroad have definitely offset the costs. Living in Amsterdam and working at an international company has exposed him to an array of cultures and business styles, including those of French, Spanish, German, and Japanese workers, which Harrison has learned to appreciate.

“Often we think that in the United States the American culture and way of doing business is maybe the only way to do it, or the right way, but really there are a variety of different approaches,” he says. “Learning to adapt to different communication styles and ways of thinking in business is valuable.”

The alum intends to pursue an MBA and continue innovating within the video streaming industry, but for now, he’s enjoying his Amsterdam adventure.

“I encourage anyone—whether it’s a short-term assignment or any other opportunity—to work abroad,” he says, relaying advice for undergraduates. “It’s valuable for your career.”

Ryan Harrison
BYU alum Ryan Harrison is going on year three at Netflix, finishing up his first year working at its Amsterdam office.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Afton Izu