Levon Kurkjian joins Opus as Brand Strategy Director

Levon KurkjianOn January 1 this year, Opus welcomed Levon Kurkjian as our Brand Strategy Director.  Levon is a long-time friend, mentor, and colleague who has spent the last decade strengthening the business and brands of Kettle Cuisine and Signature Breads. Among his many accomplishments, he has also led teams to B Corp (Benefit) certification demonstrating his personal passion for bringing out the good in companies. We are honored to have him on the team and excited to share his talent with clients.

What will you be doing at Opus?

As brand strategy director, I have the incredible privilege of pursuing my passion to help organizations “do well” by surpassing their growth and development objectives and “do good” by delivering on their higher-purpose missions. We will get there together by figuring out how best to inspire target audiences to engage with our clients, how best to change audience behaviors in support of organizational objectives, and how to strengthen loyalty.

Why do you love working with food companies?

I am drawn to the soulfulness of the food industry. So many food companies, especially today, exist to care for and nourish people. And, there is a strong and supportive community in the industry that often feels familial. Also, very simply, I love, love, love eating food and learning about food.

Why did you decide to join our team?

After accumulating 20 years of professional experience, I reflected deeply about what was most important to me. The discovery was simple but abundantly clear. My priority is to work with great people to do meaningful work. It didn’t take a lot of time with the team at Opus to realize that they are all good to their core, passionate about being helpful and masterful in their work. It also didn’t take long to realize that everyone on the team believes that Opus exists to help mission-driven companies and organizations to do more good. It was a perfect match of priorities and beliefs.

How did you first come to work with Julia and Lily?

I first met Julia and Lily back in 2005 when we were colleagues at Monitor (now Monitor Deloitte) a global strategy consultancy. I was working with a client who was super excited about the marketing strategy we recommended but they were having difficulty executing. I reached out to Julia and Lily and together they brought our recommendations to life by designing a suite of critical sales materials that helped our client visualize the path forward and empowered them to successfully execute the strategy. This was the first time in my career that I was exposed to the power of purposeful design and I was instantly hooked.

Where are you from?

Sadly or interestingly, I have lived my entire life inside of a 15 mile radius in eastern Massachusetts. I was born in Cambridge, grew up in Weston, lived in Needham for 10 years and then moved back to Weston where I live now. I have been able to travel extensively, mostly for work, and I have seen many beautiful and interesting places but it has been really nice to always come home to a familiar place.

Where did you go to school?

Undergrad at Babson College and grad school at Boston College.

What are some of your favorite Brand Strategy projects?

The projects I love most are when clients fully embrace the partnership with us across their entire organization. From experience, I know that every person in every organization, regardless of title, seniority or functional department, is able to make meaningful contributions to building the most powerful and relevant brand strategy possible. When everyone cares and contributes, the journey is richer and the results are more inspiring and sustainable.

Is it true that you like to listen to Shakira?

Yes! She is my top Pandora channel and I’m not shy about it.

What kind of work did you do before you joined Opus?

I owned and operated an independent, full-service grocery store. I was a marketing strategy consultant at Monitor. I served as VP of marketing at Kettle Cuisine. And, I served as president of Signature Breads. Possibly more interesting is that, during my teen years, when I wasn’t bagging groceries and stocking shelves, I co-owned a tiny landscaping company that we operated out of my closest friend’s mother’s car and I also tried, very unsuccessfully, to sell pots and pans door to door.

What are you most looking forward to?

Serving our amazing clients — helping them achieve their individual and organizational goals and doing my best to ensure they enjoy and learn from the journey.

What are some of the biggest differences for you, relative to your past experiences?

I believe that this role is the one that I have been building towards my entire career. To succeed in this role, I will need to draw on everything I have learned from all of my past experiences. I have been an entrepreneur, I have been a consultant leading rigorous analysis and complex problem solving, I have been a marketer for B2B and B2C brands and I have been responsible for all aspects of a 250-person organization. Bringing all of this together in service of our clients is probably the biggest difference.

What is your favorite restaurant in the Boston area? Cleveland Circle?

I’m going to dodge this one. One of the things I love about living and working in this area is the breadth and diversity of restaurants. I have enjoyed great meals at so many different places and I only avoid repeat visits to these great eateries so that I can experience others.

What was the last book that read?

The First 90 Days. I never miss out on any book that one of my longtime mentors recommends.

Finally, how did you come to meet Mike Tyson?

Wow. This story reveals a lot about me. I met Mike at the Detroit airport. I was traveling back home with a volunteer Armenian folk dancing ensemble, of which I was a cast member, after a performance. I was at the bar with a few of the other members when a couple of our female cast members came running up to me to let me know that they saw Mike and wanted me to ask him if he would pose for a photograph with our group. They picked me out of a cast of over 40 probably because they knew I was never overly concerned with rejection.

Reluctantly I approached Mike and shyly ask, “Mr. Tyson, I’m a member of this dance group and we would love for you to pose for a photo with us. Would you mind?” He starred my clearly un-dancer-like figure up and down and asked, unbelievingly, multiple times, “You’re a dancer?” By that time, the rest of the group was standing around us and he said to me, “If you dance for me, I will take the photo” So, I grabbed the two people closest to me and we put on a 90 second Armenian folk dancing display for Mike in the middle of the terminal and got our photo. Fortunately, there is evidence of this highly suspect story.

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