Spotlight: Jeff Buening


Role:  Business Development Manager for Content and Services

Hire Date:  July 2012

Fun Fact:  Jeff has visited 47 of the 50 United States.

“…everyone is very accessible. If you have ideas, you pursue them and people listen to you. It’s been very refreshing.”

What is the main focus of your role?

The first thing is to think about additional content and services outside textbooks and homework help that will either compliment or provide new areas of use for students on Chegg. Then secondly, opportunistically, looking into some strategic partnerships we can do with various companies in the education space that can either improve the experience on Chegg or can increase the number of people using existing Chegg services.

How would you describe your first 8 months at Chegg?

It’s been a whirlwind! It’s been a crash course for me about Chegg, the culture here and the education space in general, having not spent a ton of time in the education space before, it’s been great learning very quickly about the marketplace and the opportunities and challenges. The team has been incredibly impressive and helpful

Since you weren’t in the education space before, how hard is it for someone to come in here from a different industry and ramp up?

Not hard. There are so many resources here from the people who have been in the industry for a while to help out; and frankly, we all have some sort of knowledge from our own experience of being a student in education, which is helpful. This space is so dynamic so knowing the landscape is very important; there is a ton of great information out there to help get you up to speed.

How did you learn about Chegg?

I may be a unique sample here. Prior to Chegg I was in business school and had not heard of Chegg. I had been focusing both my studies and career search on the tech companies with a social mission. Education was one sector of that. By nature of my interest, I ended up taking a lot of elective courses that were focused on technology and entrepreneurship in education. One of the courses had a case study on Chegg and Dan Rosensweig, our CEO, and Nathan Schultz, our Chief Content Officer, came in as the protagonists of the case. The last 30 minutes after discussing the case, Dan came up and gave his vision of Chegg and the future and that was what got me hooked and excited about Chegg. I followed up with Nathan directly and interviewed with the team for this opportunity. The rest is history.

Are there any partnerships you’ve been working on that you can talk to us about?

Well, there are several, but not many that I can share publicly at this stage unfortunately.  A few big ones will be public in the next 60 days, so more to come!  In general I think about other content and services to bring into our student hub and ecommerce engine. We have this storefront for textbooks and homework help, but we’re thinking about what other services and tools make sense to add onto that – such as tutoring jobs and internships matching, financial services, standardized test prep, etc. So I’ve been working with a number of companies in those spaces to figure out if we can integrate them more deeply and/or be a platform that matches our students to their tools and services.

Has anything surprised you about working here so far?

I’ve been traveling a lot more for my role than I expected. I’ve been to Minneapolis, Boston, Austin, Las Vegas, Denver, and New York for some really interesting meetings and conferences about the future of education. But still, one of the beautiful things about the Bay Area is that ~70% of the companies that have some interesting play with us are out here. So even though I’ve been doing a fair amount of travel recently, it’s certainly not the case all the time.

What was also surprising to me, which is really cool, is that the Ed Tech space in general is less of a “dog eat dog” world, it’s actually an area where everyone shares a passion to improve and help the education space. We get together with companies and everyone is thinking about how to improve things and happy for the companies that are successful. The companies aren’t trying to take each other down.

Any funny or interesting moments happen to you so far?

I commute from San Francisco, which is kind of brutal. Sometimes I bike to the train instead of driving here, and I’m notorious for cutting it close so there’s been many times where I’m racing to the train, running late, and basically throwing people down to make it to the train on time and get to the office. I’m usually really sweaty but I make it! I guess it’s a good thing we have the showers here in the new building!

How is Chegg different from other companies you’ve worked for?

I’ve worked for big companies before where there is a lot of big company bureaucracy and politics. It’s hard to say if it’s just the size that creates the difference in nature or if it’s Chegg’s culture in particular, but everyone is very accessible. If you have ideas, you pursue them and people listen to you. It’s been very refreshing.

Anything else you want to add?

Everything is very reasonable – the vacation policy is great, I get the flexibility to telecommute when needed, there’s no micromanagement, so I have a lot of autonomy.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I’m one of the few Chegg employees who have been to almost 50 states. I still have to check off Alaska, Hawaii, and North Dakota.

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