Alumnus succeeds in global enterprise
"Go for it!" This is the single most important piece of advice Andrew Evanoff, senior product manager, shares with anyone who is uncertain about an opportunity.
"You jump in and take a risk," Evanoff said. "That was fundamentally a life-changing decision for me. It may not have been practical, but it changed my life for the better."
Evanoff earned a marketing degree from Minot State University in 2009. Upon graduation, he worked as an intern with Abaxis, a medical device company in northern California. This was an unexpected opportunity, as Evanoff had only met Clint Severson, Abaxis chairman and chief executive officer and 1973 MSU graduate, and Conni Ahart earlier.
"They (Clint and Conni) take a special interest in people from Minot," Evanoff said. "While they were speaking in Minot, I got a chance to sit with them at Beaver Brew Café and get to know them. At the end of their visit, I thanked them and didn't expect to see them again, but a short while later they reached out to me and asked if I'd be interested in an internship."
Severson and Ahart welcomed Evanoff to California, assisted him with finding a place to live, and mentored him. Once he completed his three-month internship, Abaxis hired him as a business development associate, and after nearly one year, he switched to sales. While life with Abaxis in California was grand, he knew there were more opportunities with the company.
"Abaxis was also in Europe, so I pursued that adventure," Evanoff said. "You learn about other countries growing up, and it all seems so mysterious, so I decided to live it."
Evanoff kept in touch with the Abaxis Europe managing director, who was aware of his aspirations to relocate to Europe. In 2013, the opportunity to work out of Frankfurt, Germany, arose.
"I jumped in cold," Evanoff said. "I transferred to sales, and it was certainly structured differently. In the business outside of the Americas, a lot of the work is with focused distribution partners, rather than directly with our end customers. And, rather than having a territory designated by zip codes, your territory is defined by a group of countries or world regions. As an international account manager, the main focus of my work was in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, with other projects throughout Europe and Asia. After almost four years based in Germany, I've had the opportunity to work in almost 40 countries around the world."
Evanoff has continued to move up the ladder in his eight years with Abaxis and was recently promoted to senior product manager.
The decision to move across the globe turned out to be everything Evanoff hoped for, and Minot State prepared him.
"MSU does a great job of teaching you to be more adaptable for wherever you go," Evanoff said. "I spent quite a bit of time learning from College of Business Dean JoAnn Linrud. At MSU, I learned ‘how' to learn. Even now, there are days I feel totally lost, but by the end of the day, we find a solution."
Working with people in more than 30 countries presents challenges, something of which he thoroughly enjoys.
"What is so fun about what I do here is adapting the corporate strategy to local markets," Evanoff said. "It's completely different compared to working in the U.S. Europe has 740 million people, and every market is different, so you have to market differently to each one. The constant need to adapt strategy is fascinating."
Abaxis produces a heavily regulated product, and regulations can vary drastically from one country to the next. In addition to varying regulations, adaptability is essential when working with a multitude of cultures.
"Everybody is really proud of their culture, so a successful company respects and embraces culture," Evanoff said. "A big part of embracing a culture is establishing yourself in the company and the community. Most cultures actually open up very quickly and want to be inclusive, so you can really learn a lot by being open and interested."
The mystery of living abroad continues to unveil itself through not only his professional but personal travels.
"Frankfurt is great place to live," Evanoff said. "Germany is great from lifestyle perspective, and the location is unbeatable. My wife, Simone, my daughter, Sarah, and I can fly or take a train to most European countries in a few hours. It's fun when we have a long weekend and decide to go to Prague. It's been incredible seeing so much of world within work and outside. I love North Dakota with my childhood and family there, but Europe has been fantastic."
Photographs: Christian Grau Fotografie