Rob Grady ‘86 enjoys “being on the steepest part of the learning curve." His interest in being professionally challenged has led to a successful career in business, marketing and product development with some of the world’s most creative companies. Grady currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of IMDb, a subsidiary of Amazon, and the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content. He oversees all aspects of the IMDb business including product development, design, editorial, engineering, and advertising across four offices in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York and Bristol, UK.
Grady, a Harvard graduate who earned a Stanford MBA in 1997, has had some of the hippest jobs in the country. He previously served as the COO of Wetpaint and before that Vice President of Global Beverage at Starbucks.
Those who knew Grady at Shorecrest may not be surprised to know he ended up as a corporate heavyweight.
We recently spoke with Rob about his career path, the impact Shorecrest had on this life and advice he has for our current students.
For those unfamiliar with IMDb, how would you describe it for readers?
IMDb stands for Internet Movie Database; the company started as a searchable database of information on movies - often described by fans as the place where any entertainment questions can be answered. However, over the years, the company has evolved into a destination for consumers to not only find answers to entertainment questions, but also to decide what to watch in movie theatres or on popular streaming services including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Hulu. We also have a subscription service called IMDbPro that has more industry information than IMDb (box office data, contact information for agents, etc.) – and is often referred to as "the LinkedIn of the entertainment industry."
Is there an example of something you have been most proud of during your time at IMDb?
I'm most proud of growing the business, which in turn provides new opportunities for my team to do bigger things and grow their careers. For example, we started a Video & Events team a few years ago -- we have a presence (e.g. video studio, fan activation) on site at most major entertainment events (Oscars, Emmys, Comic-Con), and have expanded our video offerings beyond trailers, including the recent launch of IMDb Freedive, a free service available at IMDb.com/Freedive, or on your Fire TV.
What do you look for when hiring?
I look for people who are passionate about what we are doing at IMDb, are interested in learning quickly and ambitious about their career aspirations, and have an established track record of making sound business decisions based on available data, or when there is no data at all.
What influenced your career path?
Broadly speaking, I have always looked for opportunities where I could learn a lot - what I call "being on the steepest part of the learn curve." I thrive on learning new things. I also look for opportunities in fast growing markets, in companies with a strong culture, and working for and around great people.
How did Shorecrest prepare you for life outside of the classroom?
The leadership skills that I learned by playing sports at Shorecrest have helped me lead in business. The most influential person in my development at Coach Phil Hayford – he was a role model for me not only in leading and competing in sports, but also how he lived life by investing his time and energy in the student-athletes around him. Beyond sports, participating in many extracurricular activities and performing well academically in the classroom taught me how to balance competing priorities in life.
What advice do you have for graduating Shorecrest classes?
- Follow your passion - aim to be the best at something that you are passionate about
- Look for opportunities where you can learn the fastest; when you stop learning in your career, make a change
- Build and nurture a network of people in your chosen field, and invest in relationships with those in your network.