Crazy job titles and employee-assigned monikers are the new rage in start-ups. But what do they really mean in the workplace?
What’s in a name? As Juliet stated in William Shakespeare’s inimitable tragic poem, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” reasoning that a name is irrelevant to function. Over the past few years, the professional world has taken this notion to heart by throwing out traditional job titles in favor of creative, imaginative, and sometimes, downright ridiculous monikers.
While the tech industry and marketing folk have adopted this new professional naming style, others are not as keen to jump on the bandwagon. Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of revolutionary recycling company TerraCycle, reasons that a specialized “title gives [employees] a feeling of importance; it suggests that the company is acknowledging their expertise and effort.”
But that same title might prove to be an issue later down the line when interviewing, argues recruiting firm Coburg Banks: “with the average CV looked at by a recruiter for no longer than 10 — 20 seconds, candidates calling themselves either a wizard or a ninja will quickly be laughed out of the running for a new position.” Additionally, crazy titles can be perceived by potential clients and colleagues as pretentious or silly.
Here are some of the most ridiculous job titles we could find, where they work, and what they mean.
This title is held by Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio, the creator of the wildly popular game, Angry Birds. Though other companies might consider him a VP/SVP of Marketing, he opted for a more majestic positioning. Vesterbacka’s bio contains some popular marketing buzzwords like “brand ambassador” and “evangelist,” just in case anyone is confused as to what he does.
AOL’s David Shing has ruffled even the most colorful of feathers with his pompous title and troll-like hair. Though the tech industry is used to breaking norms and eccentricity, Shing is a whole new ball game. What does a digital prophet do, exactly? Shing’s bio shares that he “spends most of his time watching the future take shape across the vast online landscape. The rest he spends talking to people about where things are headed, and how we can get the most out of it.” Simply put, Shing predicts the trends and helps AOL put them to work.
Jolly Good Fellow
If you’re a Google employee, you probably know what (and who) is a Jolly Good Fellow. If you’ve never worked for the search giant, you probably know it as the melodic follow-up to “Happy Birthday.” The former is a position held by Chade-Meng Tan, a former Google engineer that created a program called Search Inside Yourself (SIY) that aims to train how to build up their emotional intelligence through meditation and mindfulness. His job description reads as follows: “enlighten minds, open hearts, create world peace.” A jolly good fellow, indeed.
Joanna Pineda is one tough cookie. As the CEO/founder/Chief Troublemaker of The Matrix Group, a full-service web solutions company, she lives by the mantra spoken by Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.” Though it’s not clear what kind of trouble she stirs up at work, her title ensures a constant possibility.
While many companies claim that titles are irrelevant, and do-it-yourself title creation is on-trend, the fact still remains that titles help others, both inside and out of your organization, understand what it is that you do. Though it remains to be seen if some of these tech monikers are detrimental in the end, we can be sure that for the time being, job titles are here to stay.
Shayna Marks is the founder and principal at Citrine Marketing, a boutique marketing studio that utilizes content marketing and social media for brilliant brand storytelling. Prior to launching Citrine, Shayna built her career by creating engaging, educational content on behalf of influential brands on digital mediums.
Shayna Marks has a degree in Literary Journalism from UC Irvine, where she learned rich storytelling skills to later pair with her love of new media and technology.
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