UW Bothell economics professor 'lit a fire'
By Doug Esser
Brent Korte, the chief marketing officer for Ameritas Life Insurance Corp., traces his success in a financial services career back to his economics professor at University of Washington Bothell.
“My economics professor, Daniel Jacoby, really lit a fire underneath me to understand how, from an economics point of view, we should be viewing the world and where financial services holistically played in that,” says Korte.
Korte (pronounced kort-tee) grew up in Racine, Wis., and graduated from UW Bothell in 1998 with a School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences degree in global studies. He’s both a Packers and Seahawks football fan.
He spent the first dozen years of his career with Washington Mutual and also earned an MBA with the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington.
Korte joined Ameritas toward the end of 2015 with a mission to change the company, which provides a wide range of insurance and financial services to customers throughout the United States.
“We are the hub by which the rest of the company is going to be able to move products and services forward,” Korte said in a recent interview from Lincoln, Neb.
The influence of the UW Bothell, UW and Pacific Northwest in general helped him reach this point in his career.
“The training I learned at UW Bothell as well as a strong sense of personal mission and curiosity about the field that Professor Jacoby really set in place for me allowed me to flourish in this industry,” he says.
Jacoby says he’s gratified to learn that Korte saw value in his interdisciplinary approach to economics.
“What I tried to do in his course was to set up an economic way of questioning the world, asking why we don’t see the instantaneous adjustments that our models predict, and then to allow answers to come from all sorts of disciplines,” Jacoby says.
Korte and his wife have two children, including a son who is a high school sophomore thinking about college. They want him to look at both the University of Washington and University of Washington Bothell.
“I can’t think of a better experience that someone can have with their schooling,” he says.
Korte also says he’s looking to hire data scientists and digital strategists who understand how to create an e-business model outside of traditional marketing.
But the University of Washington Bothell grad’s advice to current students is not about technical skills.
“Make sure they’re really fostering a sense of curiosity about the world,” he says. “Passion and curiosity will serve you well.” Korte also says being open to change and innovation is important as people begin their careers. And make sure a company is a cultural fit.
“Really making sure they take a look under the hood of the culture of any firm they want to take a look at,” he says.
It turns out Korte is hiring as he works to “take a relatively unknown brand and make us into a national power house over the next few years.”
What about UW Bothell graduates?
“I would love to,” Korte says. “If you’ve got resumes with University of Washington, let’s get them in here.”