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Hispanic Heritage Month Profiles: VP of University Partnerships, Brandon Martinez

October 3, 2023

Get to Know Noodle’s VP of University Partnerships, Brandon Martinez

A great leader is someone who is willing to do what they ask others to do.

‍Brandon Martinez is Noodle’s Vice President of University Partnerships. Originally from Southern California he received his education from Cypress Community College and University of Southern California where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English Literature. His own educational experiences inspired him to have a career helping others learn—especially students from his own background. He shares his true start in education started when he became a high school teacher at his alma mater, USC. Now here at Noodle Brandon supports the University Partnerships team with researching programs of potential partners, helping answer questions, and learning from his creative and innovative team members around him. 

What elements or traits does a great leader exhibit? 

A great leader is someone who is willing to do what they ask others to do.  In essence, a great leader leads by example. Also, they should be a lifelong learner– Never Stop Learning—and be someone who can learn from anyone regardless of status or position in an organization.

When you think of great leadership, who comes to mind? Why? 

I had the opportunity to serve as the learning designer for the Columbia Business School Advanced Management Program and worked closely with the program director, Paul Ingram. He is a top researcher, award-winning faculty member, and consultant. Paul was able to lead a large group of high profile expert faculty members (upwards of 20 total) to participate in the creation of the online AMP. The things that stood out to me from a leadership perspective were his high enthusiasm and motivation for the participating faculty. His willingness to dig in and do the things he asked the faculty to do and his presence in meetings as a supportive role. I was also impressed by his creativity and the way he embodied our Noodle values of Never Stop Learning  and Demand Excellence. I continue to use the lessons I learned from Paul in my professional and personal life.   

One other example is Diljeet Taylor who’s head of women’s cross country and distance track coach at Brigham Young University. She has coached the women’s team to an NCAA title in XC and in track. She is a woman of color with a traditional Sikh upbringing working in a predominately white sport, white state, and at a school whose student body is overwhelmingly Mormon. She has embraced this unlikely career destination to be one of the most influential and empowering coaches and leaders. I have watched numerous videos of her coaching her team as a group and in one-on-one situations. She is genuine, inspirational, and demands excellence. Also, she is highly innovative in that she has developed and launched an app for athletes that allows coaches to check-in with them on their mental health. This is a game changer in that coaches usually know the physical status of their athletes but rarely their day-to-day mental health status. If I can display even 1% of Diljeet’s leadership abilities on a daily basis, I know I am doing well.  

How has your personal leadership style evolved? 

In my early days as a high school assistant principal I was way more transactional in my leadership. In reflecting where I was then, I think it had more to do with lack of experience and focusing on tasks more than the people involved. Now, I am much more intentional in being transformational and relational with the people with whom I work.

What is it about your background or career experiences that successfully positioned you for your role at Noodle? Describe that role. 

My entire work experience has been in the K-12 and higher education sectors. I have been a high school teacher, assistant principal, principal, as well as a full-time and adjunct faculty member at the university level. I was part of the first ever online program at U.S.C. in 2009 and it was being part of this unexplored territory that has allowed me to be a part of the Noodle experience.  My current role is VP of Learning Partnerships. In a nutshell, I work with the University Partnerships team to demonstrate Noodle Learning Design to potential university partners.

How do you support the success of your team? 

Help answer questions, research the programs of potential partners, and demonstrate our past course builds and explain our learning design process and estimate costing options.

Describe how your career has been enhanced by exposure to diverse people, places or experiences?

It has been enhanced by the opportunity to Never Stop Learning. I am surrounded by smart and creative people and I learn from them constantly. 

What are some of the most effective tools in your leadership arsenal? 

A sense of humor. I think regardless of how dire or difficult a situation may be, humor can ease tension and help us remember that we can get through anything. Also, allowing others to shine.

Please tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to learn?

My mom’s side of my family has a lineage to Sir Francis Drake. When there was a distribution of the estate just after the Great Depression, those alive at the time decided not to go stating “we never had money before, what would we do with it now?” and did not attend the distribution. Most of these family members were in Oklahoma and had survived the Dust Bowl days and were all poor farmers. This same family line has Cherokee lineage as well–my mom is 1/16 Cherokee, although neither my mom nor I identify as Cherokee or Native American. 

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