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How I Got Here: Elastic’s Utsav Panchal on pivoting into tech after earning a comms degree

Campus Philly interviewed the global search marketing manager about his path into the industry, and his advice for those pursuing a similar career: "Always continue being a student."

Utsav Panchal. (Photo via Campus Philly)

This article appears as part of the Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative, underwritten by the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce. It was first published on project partner Campus Philly's website and is republished here with permission.

Yes, a communications degree can lead you to a tech career.

Utsav Panchal is originally from Chicago and is now living in Philadelphia. He joined the Elastic team two years ago after deciding to make a switch from his agency background where he focused on B2C projects.

As global search marketing manager at the Mountain View, California-based software company, Panchal leads the search engine marketing department where he is responsible for Elastic’s marketing operations on sites like Google and Bing. Panchal has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and corporate communications from Northern Illinois University. Some hobbies of his include trying out new recipes, traveling (he visited Japan before COVID-19) and most recently, he has taken up ax throwing.

Below, check out Campus Philly’s interview with Panchal on his career path, what it’s like to work in his role, and why Philly.


Graduating as a communications major, your career can go in so many different directions. What led you to focus on paid search?

Like many other new graduates, I started out not knowing what I wanted to do. Having majored in marketing and communications, however, I did expect to go in that direction. I started off working at a social media agency as a project manager, and soon left for a starter position in the paid search industry. This was a brand new venture for me, so I just took a leap of faith and joined an up-and-coming agency where I learned the fundamentals of paid search, and started working on my first accounts.

Tell us about your role at Elastic. What is a typical day like for a global search marketing manager?

I joined Elastic two years ago, coming from an advertising agency. Switching from agency-side to client-side was tough, especially since I was also moving from B2C (business-to-consumer) to B2B (business-to-business), as well as into the tech world.

A typical day for me is checking into the performance of the previous day and previous week, making any adjustments, and working with the necessary teams to improve our search and display ads. I work a lot with our content marketing and product marketing team on implementing new keywords, landing pages, and keeping our ad copy fresh and updated, highlighting our new features.

What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on to date at Elastic?

One of my favorite projects was one of the first things I ever worked on at Elastic. The Google Ads account was not really in the best place, and I tasked myself with restructuring the entire account. I scrapped what wasn’t working well, and built around what was, while adding in all the missing pieces, such as product keywords and ad copy, redirecting to preferred landing pages, and expanding the account into the machine it is today. We ended up with a very robust account that is segmented in all the right ways to help it function more efficiently.

Prior to your role at Elastic, you worked in New York City for many years. What made you decide to move to Philadelphia?

My wife and I  wanted to move away from the NYC area, where we met and had lived for about seven or eight years. Honestly, we chose to move to Philadelphia just for a change of scenery, but it has been very nice to us. We’ve found a great community, plenty of things to do, and of course, amazing food.

If you could share one piece of advice for a college student interested in pursuing a career in tech, what would it be?

Tech is innovative, and always on the verge of breaking out to something even more exciting. Always continue being a student, and absorb as much information as you can to be successful!

Companies: Campus Philly
Series: PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub / How I Got Here

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