Alumni Spotlight: Maryam Yeganehfar
Webster Vienna Alumna Maryam Yeganehfar (B.A. '00) made a name for herself in the event production business with her own company yamyam event production. We sat down with her to find out what drives her, how she got to where she is today and what her advice is for future graduates.
B.A. in Management with an emphasis in Marketing
Class of 2000
Why did you choose Webster Vienna? And why did you choose Management/Marketing?
It had always been my dream to move to the U.S. Attending Webster Vienna was the most convenient way to get an American education, while working in Vienna. And I chose marketing because I had always been interested in that field.
What are some of your positive memories from Webster Vienna?
I only have positive memories from my time at Webster. I really liked the small class sizes and the attention the professor was able to give to the students. I also enjoyed being constantly challenged. We always had to perform and deliver. My favorite professor was Mr. Sunley from my Strategic Marketing class.
What was your first job after Webster Vienna? And how did you land that job?
I got my first job after graduating at William Morris in Los Angeles. A friend recommended me for the position. I loved it but I had to leave my job there after 9/11. The U.S. embassy did not extend my visa because I was born in Iran.
When and why did you start your business yamyam event production?
I had been in charge of organizing international events at a start-up consulting firm for about 5 years, when the company was sold. One of my clients wanted to hire me but instead I decided to found my own company. That was on March 1, 2008.
What were the challenges of an entrepreneur for you?
A challenge is the general DNA of being an entrepreneur: you can never close the door. But I love what I do. It’s challenging but beautiful. When I started the company, it was fairly easy because I could do most of the work myself. I did not have high investment cost. I was also young and didn’t need much. Only once you want to hire employees or hire someone to help, it gets complicated in terms of dealing with fees and the administration with public offices.
How did you find your first clients for your business?
During my first year, I had an ongoing contract with a client from my previous job. After that it was all word-of-mouth recommendations and that is still the case.
What are the ongoing challenges as a business owner?
When you work from project to project, there is not a lot of security. We have to trust in what we do.
Any particular success stories you want to share?
In March, it will be our 8-year anniversary. We have been steadily growing and have established a well going business. We also deal with a wide variety of events, which is nice. Most recently, we worked on a prestigious science award show – the Houskapreis. It was a huge event and very successful. It’s a small market and people come to me to organize their events. That’s nice.
Have you ever had to deal with rejection in your job?
Yes, I have had to deal with rejection. It was always related to private events when people’s emotions are involved. At first, I questioned myself and asked myself what I could have done differently. But you get used to it.
What is your advice for future graduates from Webster Vienna when entering the working world?
Be open. Be ambitious. Be focused. Do everything with love. Try to find out what you love to do and what you are burning for. Find out what makes you happy. Everything else will fall into place.
What type of skill that you cannot learn in a classroom do you think is essential in doing business?
Service skills! Being able and willing to service people. And social skills. How to deal with clients and suppliers and how to be respectful no matter who you are dealing with.
What are your plans for your business for the next 10 years?
I want to continue to steadily grow my business, go beyond the borders of Austria and work internationally.
Anything else you would like to share?
Now that I am also teaching as well, I really learned to appreciate the hands-on learning experience at Webster. Most professors came from the ‘real world’ and it is important to teach student how the world functions through real-life examples – not the theory behind it. I thank Webster for the hands-on teaching mentality.
Country of birth: Iran
What did you want to be when you were a child: A doctor – my mother was a doctor and there were many doctors in my family. It just seemed really cool to be a doctor.
Favorite travel destination: Brazil – it is the most beautiful country in the world
Favorite restaurant in Vienna: There are many! I love good food!
Hobbies: cooking, traveling, photography, yoga (I organize a yoga retreat where I cook), finding interesting interior design items
A life goal you want to accomplish: to design a set for a movie
Who was an influential person for you growing up: my brother – he is 11 years older than me and basically raised me. He was my brother, my father and my best friend.
Who do you look up to now: I still look up to my mentor who was the founder of the consulting firm (Ernst Scholdon) who unfortunately passed away in 2014. He taught me to reach for the starts but stay on the ground. He taught me that ‘no’ is never an answer and everything is possible.
Favorite class at Webster: Strategic Marketing, Business Law
Least favorite class at Webster: Accounting
Photo by Teresa Marenzi (Iconoclash Photography)