Travel to New York, Hong Kong and Mumbai is part of Josh Marion's job developing business for the Seattle-based jewelry startup.

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Josh Marion

What do you do? I am head of business development at Ritani, which is a [Seattle-based] startup where one can customize an engagement ring or piece of jewelry online and then ship it for free to a local retailer throughout the U.S. and Canada (such as Alvin Goldfarb in Bellevue) to preview the item before purchasing it. It’s my responsibility to manage and grow our supplier relationships as well as other strategic accounts, so when I am not in Seattle I spend time in New York, Mumbai and Hong Kong.

How did you get started in that career? I actually started my career in customer service at a retail company and then moved within the company to software development and quality assurance. The role of business development just came naturally as I continued to be more confident in the products and ideas I was promoting.

Looking back, one of my biggest career builders was working as a server’s assistant at Canlis during my undergrad [years]. There, I learned to work under pressure in a high-end environment, making sure the customer had an amazing experience and walked away feeling important. In a way, that is Business Development 101.

What’s a typical day like? My day varies a lot since business development is everything from building supplier relationships, a little bit of sales, technical execution, as well as the ability to get other companies to believe in your company, and ultimately, you as a person. This means I am on the phone or on an airplane a fair amount of time solving an issue, meeting with brands, designers and vendors. Although no two days are exactly the same, the key to any given day is to make sure the PMs, devs and fellow teammates are on board and executing on the project that I have promised to complete.

What’s the best part of the work? I really enjoy hearing about the customer stories and how we made a difference with the product they bought and how it made them feel. Yes, signing a big vendor, opening an office in another country, or winning over a designer is rewarding, but hearing about how a Ritani engagement ring changed the lives of someone is the ultimate reward. I mean, how many companies get engagement pictures from couples and rave reviews about our unique business model daily? That makes my day.

What surprises people about what you do? I would say the amount of travel and weird hours I work is a surprise to people. Although we have FaceTime, Hangouts and Skype, designers and suppliers still want to interact in person and hear about the business and what makes Ritani different and important to them.

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