Graduate College Alumnus of the Year
’02 BS Engineering, ’06 MS Engineering
Greg Lull wasn’t entirely certain how his career would unfold after completing his undergraduate degree at UNLV, but he was pretty confident about one thing: His vocational journey would always follow an electrical engineering path. It’s why he returned to his alma mater to pursue his graduate degree in engineering.
“In school, I really enjoyed electronics and digital signal processing,” Lull said. “I assumed I would do something in those fields.”
He did, until he reconnected with an old high school chum who had recently launched his own marketing agency. During the conversation, the former classmate asked Lull if he could lend some technical expertise.
“At the time, I was working a software job and finishing my thesis, but I decided to help him out on the side. Three years later, we had built an agency with 20 people and several large clients, and I found myself spending time thinking about marketing systems instead of electronic ones — and loving it.”
So Lull planted his foot firmly in the ground and pivoted toward a career in marketing. It was a bit of a risky move, but one that paid off in a big way: Today, Lull is the chief marketing officer for Credit Karma, one of the world’s most recognizable financial technology companies that boasts more than 110 million members.
Lull hopes his decision to shift career gears inspires the communications professional whose true passion is to become a chef or the business major with a gift for painting.
“If you happen to pick the right career path from day one, great, but for everyone else don’t be afraid to pivot or try new things. That’s part of the journey, and every divergent step helps you zero in on what you really want to do.”
Describe that moment when you knew you made the right career move.
During Credit Karma’s early days, I was involved in all aspects of marketing, and there were a couple of weeks in late 2011 through early 2012 when our marketing team was working round-the-clock getting ready to launch a big campaign. Every day we’d examine the effectiveness of the campaign and would make changes to improve it. The campaign turned out to be a huge success, breaking records for our business daily.
I loved that moment because of how everything and everyone came together — there was a ton of collaboration and camaraderie. I realized I liked the pressure of having a job where people count on me to deliver results.
What’s the biggest personal or professional challenge you’ve had to overcome, and how did that experience shape you?
When I shifted to marketing, I faced a pretty huge skill gap. Without any formal marketing training, I often “re-invented” things people had already figured out — which was fun but not a great use of time. So there were a few years where I wasn’t sure I’d stay in marketing or go back to engineering. I learned I was able to apply my engineering background to marketing by taking a data-driven approach — our growth-marketing strategies were critical in scaling Credit Karma’s member base over the last six or seven years.
Once I decided to stick with it, I invested heavily in building a network of peers and mentors from whom I could learn. This approach of being a lifelong student of marketing became part of my DNA — asking questions, constantly learning from others, testing, and never feeling like it was my job to have all the answers. I now encourage everyone on my team to question their assumptions, step outside their comfort zone, and try to understand the bigger picture. And don’t be afraid to learn from others.
If you could go back in time, what piece of practical advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
It took me seven years to get my undergrad degree and another three years in grad school, partially because I believed college was the time to have fun and explore before “growing up” and joining the real world. What I’ve realized is you don’t have to fit in all the fun stuff in college. As a working professional, you can still have adventures, meet new people, pick up new hobbies, and continue exploring.
How does the phrase “Rebel spirit” apply to the marketing world?
Being successful in marketing means taking risks. We have taken some big risks at Credit Karma, and most of them have paid off — and even those that didn’t taught us key learnings. Media consumption, consumer preference, technology — everything is changing. Brands need to forge their own paths and own their message if they truly want to succeed. Nobody gets ahead by just following what everyone else does.