Ask (Augustana) Alumni Anything: Karla Yuha, '15 BCom

Alumna and HR business partner at Endeavor, Karla Yuha, '15 BCom, answers questions about working abroad, preparing for a marathon, what working with people in the entertainment industry is like and more.

19 October 2021

Image of Karla Yuha

Karla Yuha was born and raised in rural Alberta, 30 minutes east of Camrose, and attended Augustana from 2010-12 and was a member of the Vikings Women’s Volleyball Team. After graduating with a bachelor of commerce in human resources from the U of A, she moved to London, England and landed a job at IMG, a sports, fashion, events and media company.

Five years after living in London, travelling Europe and occupying various HR roles within IMG, Karla relocated to NYC in the middle of the pandemic to continue my career with IMG’s parent company, Endeavor. Endeavor is a global entertainment, sports and content company, home to the world’s most dynamic and engaging storytellers, brands, live events and experiences. The company is comprised of industry leaders including IMG, entertainment agency WME and premier mixed martial arts organization UFC. This network specializes in talent representation, marketing and licensing, content development, distribution and sales, event management and a number of direct-to-consumer offerings.

Outside of work, Karla enjoys exploring new places and finding restaurants off the beaten path. She is also currently preparing to run the New York City Marathon in November.

Q: How long have you been training for this marathon?

A: The short answer is 10 months.

I started training in January for the Berlin marathon, which was in September. I was hopeful travel restrictions would be lifted by the time the marathon rolled around. Three weeks ahead of travelling, I learned that it would not be possible to re-enter the US should I choose to travel to Europe, so I had to defer my entry.

I am grateful to have secured a bib in the NYC marathon, but technically that means the answer to the question is I have been training for this marathon for about 8 weeks. It also means that I have 11 more months of training ahead of me until Berlin in September 2022.


Q: How did you land your job with IMG?

A: During my final year of university, I was applying for graduate jobs and, to put it lightly, the options were bleak. I told myself I would not apply for a job that didn’t genuinely excite me. I had always wanted to do a semester abroad but ran out of time. It was then that I decided to move and start my career in London having never been there, not knowing anybody and still with no job. I started flat hunting and applying for jobs immediately. I signed up with a few recruitment agencies that helped me understand the UK market. With a lot of persistence and a little luck I found a temp role at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew. This gave me a bit of breathing room to start applying for more permanent positions.

Experience gained from internships whilst in university plus a few months of UK HR experience under my belt put me in a good position to interview for an HR Assistant role at IMG. I knew that I liked sports and that I was attracted to the media industry. I was also pretty sure I would like a career in HR. I landed the job and got my first real taste of HR through managing the UK IMG internship programmes. The rest is history!  


Q: What does an exciting day at work look like for you? What does a boring day look like?

A: I can genuinely say that no two days are the same, which overall means I don’t have many boring days. When thinking about it, I can’t recall the last time I said I was bored at work.

Endeavor is the epitome of a fast-paced company. The business is constantly changing, evolving, growing and adapting. That means to be successful, the people and the infrastructure need to grow, adapt and evolve with it. I get excited when I can work with business leaders to translate their business strategies into people and organizational priorities—this consists of helping managers see around corners and figuring out how to get the right people, in the right place and the right time, and ensuring they have the skills and capabilities to succeed.

As with every job there are tasks that are less exciting but knowing how those tasks contribute to the larger mission help to keep me focused on delivering.

I will admit, it is also exciting to see the work that we do show up in the media and knowing that I played a part in making it happen. 


Q: How did your experience as a Vikings athlete help you prepare for your career?

A: When I conduct job interviews, one of the questions I am guaranteed to ask is for people to tell me about a time they have been part a team. I am a firm believer that being on a team creates a safe environment to build desirable character traits and soft skills that are difficult to learn elsewhere—how to give and take feedback, how to communicate and have difficult conversations and how to utilize different people’s skill sets to work towards a common goal. It requires commitment, dedication, time management and hard work. You learn when it is appropriate to step up and lead and when to follow. All things that are transferable to realizing success in the workplace. For me it was a sports team, but it doesn’t have to be—choir, band, theater, etc. can teach the same lessons.    

During my time at Endeavor, I’ve applied for five promotions that I didn’t get. I can’t help but think my time as a Viking had a significant impact on how I reacted and the actions I took to close the gaps and put myself in a position to be successful the next time.


Q: Any tips on how to stop procrastinating? 

A: When it comes to procrastinating, I am up there with the best of them. I find this especially to be true when I have too many things to do. I can’t properly focus my attention on any one thing, so I end up doing something else entirely.

A tip that has proven to be effective for me is to follow the 1-3-5 rule. Essentially, at the beginning of the week I determine one big deliverable that I need to achieve that week and write it down. At the beginning of every day, I write down three medium things I need to accomplish and five small tasks to get done. This helps me to prioritize and break down my long list of to-dos into manageable bite-size pieces. It also pushes me to deliver valuable outputs versus simply answering emails or completing tasks that are not high value.


Q: What's a highlight from your work that you can share?

A: We have one to two global town halls every year to hear company updates from the CEO, executive chairman and president of the company. It isn’t unusual for them to ask for guest speakers to attend. When you work in the entertainment industry the guest speakers tend to be rather well-known. It is always exciting to see the likes of Dwayne Johnson, Dana White, Jake Gyllenhaal or Chrissy Teigen walk on stage.

Other perks are simply being able to attend the events that we work on. I’ve been lucky enough to go to major golf and tennis tournaments, soccer games and concerts with work.


Q: Were your internships in the summer? Any tips on landing one?

A: I participated in the cooperative education program, which meant that I needed to complete a total of 12 months of work experience in addition to all the bachelor of commerce degree coursework to receive my co-op designation. I completed two summer internships and one during the fall semester.

Speaking from experience of sitting on both sides of the table, here are my top 3 tips:

  1. Build your network. Create a LinkedIn profile, follow companies and industries you are interested in and be creative in how you network. Remember that, generally, people love to help. Asking people in the industry, or people that you would be interested in working for, to go for a coffee or for 10-15 minutes of their time for a phone call can be invaluable.
  2. Differentiate yourself. The challenge with hiring interns is that the volume of applications is high and everybody looks similar on paper. Hiring managers love to see your personality shine through! Tell them about yourself in your cover letter—why do you want to work at their company? What do you do in your spare time? What makes you the best candidate or different from all the others? Remember, there are people on the other end looking for something to relate to. 
  3. Be open-minded and prepared. Don’t limit yourself to opportunities because they might not tick every box. Getting your foot in the door and some experience is a great first step. Once you do land an interview, do your research; know who you are meeting, any recent news of the company and why you want to work for them.

A more tactical piece of advice is that a lot of companies start hiring their summer interns in the fall of the previous year. Now is a good time to start looking for postings.


Q: Any advice for business students wanting to work abroad?

A: Start packing and take the plunge!

The most important thing is to determine which work visa you will need in order to live and work in your preferred country. You can figure everything else out as you go. Once you’ve decided you are going to make the move, be patient, open minded and optimistic. You will experience culture shock; you will get homesick; and you will experience challenges you’ve never experienced before. As long as you are ready to step outside of your comfort zone and roll with the punches, I can promise you won’t regret it!

More practically, there are numerous agencies and companies out there that help students and young professionals move abroad. If you are a bit unsure, they can help every step of the way, including finding a place to live and work once you arrive.


Q: What's something you do in your job that most people don't know is handled by HR?

A: When most people think of HR, their mind jumps to hiring and firing or the “police” of the company, but HR encompasses so much more. Learning and organizational development, total rewards and diversity, equity and inclusion all fall under the HR umbrella. We help to build and shape the culture of an organization and give managers the tools to create an environment where employees feel they can show up every day as their true selves. We tie the needs of the organization with the needs of the employees to create opportunities for engagement and growth across the company whilst enhancing the employee experience. I could go on for days, but a few other HR areas that people don’t necessarily think of include employee wellness, global mobility, mergers and acquisitions, people operations and analytics and HR systems and technologies.  


Q: How do you conquer the fear of moving away for post-secondary?

A: Moving away is all part of growing up. There will be times of uncertainty and ambiguity but that is all part of the experience. The discomfort and fear you feel, whether it be around having to meet new people or being in new environments, is only temporary. It will pass. With a positive attitude and outlook, any situation can be viewed as an opportunity to learn, to grow and to experience new things. When I am faced with a difficult decision, I try to think five years into the future and look back on which decision I might regret the most.

I also take solace in the fact that if it all goes terribly wrong, you can always go home. You can’t always go back to the opportunity that is currently in front of you.

As Lewis Carroll said, “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”


Q: Girl! Drop the haircare routine!

A: LOL! A wash every couple days, purple shampoo once a week for the brightness, a quick blow dry and flat iron for the curl and coconut oil for the shine. Nothing special!


Q: What are some of your musts for what to do, see, eat, etc. if I'm only going to be in NYC for a short time?

A: It is tough to answer this question concisely but, to me, visiting NYC is all about experiencing the city for what it is and to live as much like a local as you can. Experience the infectious buzz, diverse people, unique experiences and incredible food from virtually any corner of the globe. It truly is hard to get bored in NYC.

Be sure to pack your walking shoes and no matter what you are interested in, you can easily fill a few days full of activities and get those Insta-worthy shots. My must dos would include hitting the stereotypical NYC experiences—grab a bagel, take the subway, eat some pizza, pay for an overpriced cocktail on a rooftop, find a hole in the wall restaurant, see some live entertainment and, most importantly, take some time to people watch. 


Q: How does someone become a client of Endeavor? Do they have to become famous first?

A: It varies depending on what type of talent we are representing (i.e. athlete, singer, actor, writer model, etc.), but you do not need to be famous before becoming a client. In fact, part of what makes the agents successful is identifying emerging talent and helping them build their career. Agents build their book of business over time. Sometimes they try to sign clients that are already represented by other agencies, sometimes they are handed down clients when another agent leaves the business or retires and other times they scout their own talent. 


Q: What kind of a role would a person with a bachelor's in math have in the entertainment industry?

A: There are so many jobs within the industry that a math degree would be useful for! The industry is now, more than ever, using data to make business decisions. So many of our roles require critical and analytical thinking, which are both skills that are required and refined through a math degree. Data analysts and data scientists both come to mind, but depending on what you want to get into, any business development job can also be applicable. My advice to any student trying to determine what they can use their degree for is to not limit themselves to something strictly in their field. Degrees are just as much about the knowledge as they are about learning how to think and problem solve differently so if there are roles that you are genuinely interested in, go for it and tailor your resume accordingly.