My Epic Origin Story
I was born during my favorite design decade, in Upstate New York, to a wonderful family. My formative years were spent watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, skateboarding, and playing Halo semi-professionally. Life was awesome but in 2006 something significant happened. A pluckier, college-bound me was on the verge of a fantastic journey…
Thanks to the talented educators at Full Sail University, I genuinely felt prepared to take on the industry. Even landed gigs at EA and a few local agencies. However, a
once-in-a-lifetime global economic crash intervened…
Full Sail University
Bachelor's Graduate • 2006-2008 • Winter Park, Florida
During the summer of 2006, I left my childhood home in New York for a brighter future in Florida. Originally slated for the Game Design & Development program at Full Sail University, I quickly transitioned to Digital Arts & Design after learning firsthand that playing video games was far more enjoyable than the math required to create them. I really connected with the accelerated curriculum which included everything from visual design to motion content to web applications. Through it, I was able to achieve my goal of becoming an all-in-one creative.
Quality Assurance • 2007 • Orlando, Florida
My background in competitive gaming and ongoing education at Full Sail University made me an easy choice for EA Tiburon's QA division. I originally wanted to be a Game Designer so this opportunity was a dream come true. Shortly after launching Superman Returns, EA centralized its QA operations to Alabama. During this transition, I opted to join the Labs program at my university instead.
- Selected for EA Tiburon's In The Game Program, a prestigious internship program for high-achieving students at Full Sail University.
- I evaluated and collaborated on gameplay and user experience enhancements for the Superman Returns videogame (PS3 and Xbox 360). My hope is that I helped make one of the worst videogames of all time a little bit better.
Full Sail University
Monitor • 2007-2008 • Winter Park, Florida
Once I had a handle on my first few courses I started working at Labs, a network of dedicated creative workspaces at Full Sail University for students of all programs. As a Monitor, my goal was to energize these environments and engage with students from other programs to learn about them, their projects, and to offer help wherever possible. This would turn out to be somewhat of a glimpse into my future. For the time being, graduation meant moving upward and onward to TwoThink Studios.
- Facilitated over 1,000 hours of Labs for students of all Full Sail University programs.
- Through sheer persistence, I convinced management to turn one of my labs each month into a dedicated collaboration session in which students could volunteer projects or assistance. A practice that continued on after my retirement.
Creative • 2008 • Orlando, Florida
Although closing within 4 months of my hire, we as a team spent that time rallying together and creating high-quality content for our clients. Despite best efforts, the economy continued to implode and it was back to New York for me.
- Managed ecommerce websites and marketing for flagship brands including Hot Lockz, Natural Bronze, and Body Art By Airtoo.
- Delivered 4 WordPress websites and over 50 animated Adobe Flash ads, back when it was still a viable platform for web development.
- Heartbreakingly, most of my work from 2003 to 2008 was lost to theft. Along with my beloved Spitfire Supreme Thrasher backpack.
The economy was in a full-blown recession and I moved back to New York. What started as setbacks became my Renaissance. I emerged as a Master's graduate, Producer at ESPN, and teaching at Full Sail University in Florida…
Sales Lead • 2009-2010 • Latham, New York
As Sales Lead, I experienced this traditional brick-and-mortar retailer attempt to navigate the digital space. It would be their undoing. Outside of work, all my free time was spent devising a plan. In August 2010, I put it into action by returning to Florida and enrolling in the Entertainment Business Master's program at my alma mater.
- Regional Sales Conference speaker in 2009 and 2010.
- 1x Top Regional Monthly Footwear Sales.
- 7x Top Store Monthly Footwear Sales.
- 3x Top Store Monthly Fitness Equipment Sales.
Full Sail University
Master's Graduate • 2010-2011 • Winter Park, Florida
As a class, we challenged leadership of the new Master's program to build better curriculum. For some of us, this constructive back and forth would lead to opportunities at Full Sail University upon graduating. More on that later though. At this time, I was striving for a 4.0 GPA, actively consulting, and about to start at ESPN.
- Earned Course Director Award for Brand & Storytelling Development from Ken DeGilio who said
Nathan is excellent at crafting branded experiences that create connections.
Producer • 2011-2012 • Kissimmee, Florida
What was originally an editing gig turned into producing broadcast content for sporting events, sponsored promotions, and special guest segments. My content performed well across their YouTube channels and I was offered more opportunities to create content in my signature style. Awesome as it was, everything, including broadcast, was moving online. I was soon to follow.
- Coverage Directed for Twirl Mania 2011, the largest baton twirling competition in the USA. Second largest overall in the world.
- Produced 2011 Diamond Citrus Classic promos and highlights.
- Production Assistant for the 2011 Tim Tebow and Adam Hubbs Make-A-Wish Foundation Meet & Greet at Disney's ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex.
- Produced the 2011 Contest of Champions highlight reel that reached 90,000 views on YouTube.
Full Sail University
Specialist • 2011-2014 • Winter Park, Florida
An open opportunity at Full Sail University came calling just before graduating with my Master's degree. After reflecting on my long-term goals, the Web Design & Development Bachelor's program was my clear choice. They had decked out facilities with on-site servers, industry rock stars, and students genuinely passionate about crafting awesome online experiences. After 3 wonderful years working with, learning from, and mentoring the brightest in the industry I sought out new challenges. Earning a nice corner office and nifty new title in the process.
- Facilitated and enhanced curriculum across 13 courses including Web Interface & Usability, Designing For Web Standards, and Rich Media Optimization.
- Contributed to over 400 launched web projects.
After years of leveling up, it was time for titles that matched. A new way of growing business was emerging. One that challenges and outperforms industry norms. That reduces headaches and delivers meaningful experiences. My way…
Director Of Marketing • 2014-2015 • Orlando, Florida
TeleSpeak is a leading provider of cloud, telecommunications, and contact center services in Central Florida. The night before my meeting with one of the company's founders was spent completely redesigning their brand. The next day, what started as a 1-on-1 turned into a group presentation for the leadership team. Shortly after, I received an offer letter and spent the next year actualizing my vision. Glenn Goldberg of Parallel PR said
Nathan's efforts have legitimized TeleSpeak in Central Florida and our industry leaders noticed. He was more right than I knew.
- Designed TeleSpeak's branded trade show booth and attendee experience. It would win an honorable mention at the ITExpo awards ceremony.
- Developed and launched a new, fully-responsive website that reduced average load times from 8 seconds to less than 2.
- Increased website traffic by 60% utilizing biweekly email campaigns to more than 33,000 subscribers.
- Produced over 15 print ads and authored 7 articles for ChannelVision Magazine. Each directly generated sales.
Senior Experience Designer • 2015 • Tampa, Florida
My accomplishments at TeleSpeak and extensive background in interactive design put me on the radar of Sykes Enterprises, the third-largest contact center services provider in the world. Before long, I was working directly with the executive team as their dedicated Senior Experience Designer and helping them turn long-time boardroom pipe dreams into Sykes Home. When my work at Sykes Enterprises came to a close, another door opened. This time to the showrooms of Hudon's Furniture.
- The Sykes Home platform helped Sykes Enterprises grow from third to the second largest contact center services provider in the world.
- Handled visual, interactive, and experience design components and project management for Sykes Home, a digital platform that supports over 45,000 active employees and powers their fully remote roles.
- Developed innovation process used for prototyping all internal platforms and led all experience design components of 3 enterprise-scale projects.
- Managed a multi-faceted, globally distributed team of 15 professionals.
- Standardized usability testing and led focus groups.
Director Of Digital • 2016-2020 • Central Florida
The Hudson family is a trusted name in quality furnishings, comfortable mattresses, and inspired designs. They have delivered value and turned countless houses into homes for over 38 years. With 17 convenient showrooms throughout Florida, they're no stranger to growing pains. The most daunting of which was effectively navigating digital. Over the years we centralized, nurtured, and legitimized their presences online. All while increasing showroom traffic with motivated shoppers. As business grew year-over-year, so did my expertise and aspirations. It was time for something greater. It was time for me to lead the Digital Marketing division at Next Horizon, where I'd help grow more than 100 business partners.
- Helped Hudson's Furniture win the 2017 HFA Furniture Retailer Of The Year Award.
- The email campaigns I developed for Hudson's Furniture averaged a 32% open rate, nearly twice that of the 17% industry average for furniture retailers.
- Collaboratively designed and developed the new www.hudsonsfurniture.com.
Director Of Digital • 2018-2019 • Sanford, Florida
I empowered Next Horizon's Digital division to launch more major projects in 12 months than in the previous 2 years combined, including their 2019 rebrand. This meaningful growth contributed to winning the OBJ Fast 50 and GrowFL Florida Companies To Watch awards. Despite all that success, ownership continued rejecting innovation and doubling-down antiquated agency approaches. Like many clients in the coming months, I too left them.
- Sustained a 41% increase in department output for 40 weeks.
- Established branding, collateral, video, and website production processes founded on Agile and Scrum best practices along with my own proven approach.
- Mentored a team of 5 through more than 30 professional certifications combined.
- I handled Morton Construction's branding package, the OBJ Fast 50 video introduction for Next Horizon, a commercial for Friendly Confines Collectibles, and much more.
Unlike in 2008, I was prepared for another
once-in-a-lifetime economic downturn. This time around it was an ongoing global pandemic. Despite hardships and hurdles, my wonderful partners and I continue to prosper…
Black Orlando Tech
Marketing Mentor • 2020-Present • Orlando, Florida
How am I helping others grow? A simple question but one I found myself struggling to answer in late 2019. All that changed when I connected with members and leaders of Black Orlando Tech, an innovative non-profit. They help empower underserved communities with ongoing technical training and access to industry opportunities. Together we strive to amplify success, one BOT alumni at a time.
- Developed and led the Digital Marketing course for the Tech Cohort Series, a comprehensive 8-week Digital Marketing program that covers everything from The Business Driven Brand to Creating Compelling Content and Selling Goods And Services Online.
- Empowered over 30 active industry professionals to attain their Black Orlando Tech Digital Marketing Certification.
Nathan Rafter Incorporated
Chief Everything Officer • 2005-Present • Nationwide
After teaching in the nation's most prestigious web program at Full Sail University, contributing to AAA video game launches at EA, having my video production work broadcast across the ESPN networks, and holding many senior creative and project management roles at Fortune 500 companies, it was time. Time to fully invest my energy, experience, and know-how into growing business for the wonderful partners of Nathan Rafter Incorporated. Partners like Hudson's Vacation Interiors, Seminole PowerSports, and VSM Advertising. An inner circle of professionals driven to build better business. Are you driven?
- Senior User Experience Designer for Honda's Roadside Assistance application.
- Lead a globally distributed team of 9 at Merchbee as interim Product Manager, where we empowered over 40 Amazon Resellers to increase sales and collectively send over 500k review requests, sales specials, and more.
- Interim CTO for AskMethod and acting CMO for The Lead Lion.