Alumni Feature: Alex Andreyev (BUS ’09)
Alex Andreyev (BUS ’09) sees the hardships he’s faced early in life and in his digital advertising career as opportunities to grow. Rather than prompting despair, difficulty has made him all the more eager to lift up others.
For King’s alumnus Alex Andreyev (BUS ’09), the challenging life began early. His family in Ukraine had begun to splinter shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, beginning with his dad moving far away to Moscow to find work. Monetary inflation and pressures from local racketeers forced his mother and grandmother to seek a more peaceful life with relatives who had already moved to America, so Alex came to Brooklyn when he was just nine years old. With his mother needing to work long hours to provide for her household, Alex spent most of his childhood with his grandmother. As a teenager preparing for college, Alex worked at an ice cream shop and also ran a Christmas tree stand during the holiday season. Alex looks back at these early days, fraught with family tension and financial instability, and reflects, “I’m not one to say, ‘Woe is me.’ I try to look at this from a positive perspective, to see how it shaped my life.”
While spending time with his grandmother, Alex came into contact with Every Nation, a church community that not only discipled him into a personal relationship with Jesus, but also introduced him to members who were “King’s people.” Discovering The King’s College was a blessing for Alex; he had begun to develop a sense of Christian support and community in his congregation, but now was able to see another form of this Christ-centered community lived out at King’s. Alex recalls, “My professors and classmates from around the country opened me up toso many different points of view.” Attending King’s introduced new challenges as well: how to pay for private education, and later, how to find a job after graduation. Since Alex had to come up with college tuition by himself, he continued to work twenty-plus hours a week as the night shift manager at the ice cream shop in Brooklyn while completing a full class load. The spring semester of his senior year, while the country experienced a tremendous economic downturn, Alex scrambled to find a job. His King’s experience helped prepare him for adversity. “King’s had provided professionals to teach who had real-world experience. This, in turn, prepared me for real-world experience, including hardships.” Although he was confident in his education and his abilities, not many companies at the time would take a risk on a graduate from a relatively unknown school, so Alex applied to every job listing from the growing companies in his field within the tri-state area. At the last company to which he applied, CPX Interactive, two positions were available: a paid job, and an unpaid internship. Alex recalls that he would have been willing to fill the intern position. Providentially, they offered him the job.
What followed for Alex was a string of remarkable successes; getting into the field of programmatic media early, just as companies were beginning to use computers to manage their digital advertising, enabled him to move quickly into administrative positions, eventually handling huge accounts. At one company, he was their youngest director within the holding group, overseeing 30 reports and $65 million in digital media assets, and he has been able to pick and choose which companies to work for. This level of success has been hard-earned, since Alex occasionally has to take a firm stand on treating his clients and colleagues with honesty. He says, “There’s a lot of distrust in advertising. The reason it’s become a problem is that trends in the industry lean toward making money as the main goal. From a faith perspective and from my own experiences making mistakes or doing things I didn’t think were right, I never want to have that weighing on my soul. I’ve always wanted to make sure there was not merely profit, but also value provided for my clients.”
The workplace has provided Alex with further opportunities to grow through difficulty. Conflict and arguments have always been hard for him, but he came to see that pushing back was necessary to do his job well and to answer the demands of his conscience. “In a work environment, I’m perfectly fine now to question teams on why we are doing XYZ rather than just sit back and accept things as they are. While this is difficult, it also has helped me build my reputation in the industry, having those direct and honest conversations. This can be difficult for other people, but we’re building better practice.” While for many in the business, there is a temptation to focus on what makes a quick buck, for Alex, “faith helps me hold myself to a higher standard of ethics. Building a good reputation may be difficult, but it has led to the best outcomes in relationships and business results. Some of my friends call me ‘radically loyal,’ and people respond with loyalty.”
Alex believes that a great deal of his success has come because he has not focused on the hardship and the difficulties, other than to see how he can rise above them. In fact, the weight of his successes is what motivates him to turn around and help others. “At the end of the day, if it’s just about me, that gets the most depressing—I shine and do best when it’s not just about me. If I could do something more beyond myself, that’s what really drives me. After doing what I can to support family, outreach is necessary.” Looking for opportunities to help others in practical ways, Alex and his wife moved to a small church on Roosevelt Island, Hope Covenant, which has a thriving outreach ministry to local handicapped people. Alex was also able to volunteer with underprivileged students who are interested in media and marketing, to show how they can have a future in the field.
Ultimately, the hand of God, in allowing tremendous challenges for Alex’s life, has also guided him to remarkable triumphs. Alex says, “If you’re just focusing on the problems in front of your nose, you need to take a step back. None of my problems—family going through war (literally), family needing support, lost business—ended my career or my life. In order not to constantly worry about your problems and things you can’t control, you have to give away of yourself, and then you will feel like you’ve received.”