Exclusive Interview with Shoptalk's Khanh Dang

What is your life journey in academia? Please tell us more.

I’ve always been drawn to different art forms from a young age, from classical music and poetry to film and photography. As a student, I wanted to become a professional writer and photographer, and even won a handful of state-level prizes for writing and photography.

A lot of my academic work and research projects has focused on Modernist Art and more generally 20th century film and literature. My journey in academia has taken me from a

top-tier private school in Dartmouth College and now to Shoptalk, where I get to use my creative skills to help brands and retailers surface new insights about retail innovation.

What inspired you to study Romance Languages?

I studied Romance Languages, specifically a combination of French and Spanish literature, because I’ve always been interested in the power of storytelling and how people of different cultures and eras use language arts to tell their stories.

As part of my program of study, I got to spend six months in Madrid and another six months in Paris, which besides being fun and memorable life experiences, also opened my mind to different artistic frames of reference.

I think of my professional experiences in marketing and market research as an extension of the creative analysis work that I did for my Romance Languages degree. With each new product, I enjoy delving into what resonates with the end consumer and crafting narratives that would appeal to each and every customer segment. 

What has been the greatest business learning you have learned throughout your career? 

That marketing is both a science and an art. With the widespread adoption of advanced analytics tools, marketing as it is practiced in some places has become an exact science.

But without intuition, empathy, and imagination, you’d end up with nothing more than soulless numbers. I’d say having an eye for art applies to most other aspects of doing business.

Take Steve Jobs: he wasn’t only a brilliant engineer, but also a devoted calligraphist who understood the importance of beauty and design in computer hardware.  

Where do you see the future of your work?

I would like to keep working with startups and/or within the startup ecosystem. That’s where I see myself stretching my creativity to the fullest - Khanh Dang