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Matt Classen

Matt Classen, MBA

Arrow NW Founder, CEO and Brand Identity Specialist

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

Matt’s professional journey has been different than most. After graduating from the University of Oregon in 1996, Matt understood that a globalizing world would require multiple perspectives, especially in the field of business. He left the comforts of Eugene and over a two-year period explored 30+ countries, becoming fluent in Spanish in the process. During his quest for insight, Matt became completely fascinated by the greater scheme of what binds and motivates us as human beings. Seeking to apply his fascination to the field of business, Matt decided to study for an MBA in an international setting. After returning to Oregon in 1999 from his journey in Europe, he gained two years of practical business management experience before leaving for The Netherlands to earn his MBA.

After graduating, Matt was recruited by Deutsche Telekom AG in Bonn, Germany, as a Manager Trainee. During the first year of his contract, Matt worked in the Corporate Strategy and Policy department on a variety of overarching strategy projects that affected strategic direction for the entire company. During his second year, Matt worked as the Project Coordinator for T-Mobile’s sponsorship of the UEFA EURO2004 soccer tournament in Portugal, one of the world’s biggest sporting events. It was at a conference in Lisbon, where all the main sponsors of the tournament (e.g. Adidas, MasterCard, McDonald’s, Canon to name a few) had gathered, that Matt had an epiphany. As each of the sponsors presented their communication aims for the tournament, Matt was astounded at just how one-dimensional each of them were, including those of T-Mobile. Matt also wondered that if consumers were uninspired by the communication of the world’s best known sponsors, how could the employees of those companies be truly engaged either? It was obvious that both components were intertwined. It was at this point that Matt decided he wanted to be a brand identity expert. Over the next few years Matt passionately educated himself on the topic of brand identities and how they could be utilized to attract, retain and inspire customers, employees and supply chain partners on multiple levels.

In 2007, seeking a fresh start and to test his metal, Matt moved to Oslo, Norway and founded a small consulting company. In order to make ends meet in this nascent stage of his company, Matt worked as an executive level business English teacher with clients from national and international organizations. Integrating a broad array of business topics into the curriculum, Matt found himself acting as more of a trusted business advisor for his clients than English teacher. This gave Matt the opportunity to fine-tune his business acumen in a wide variety of areas, all of which he leveraged for the benefit of his consulting company. Over his 7-year stint in Norway, Matt worked with a multitude of organizations in areas as diverse as innovation processes development, business strategy development, brand identity development, project management, communication strategy and organizational change management.

In November 2014, Matt moved back to Oregon to be closer to his family, to found Arrow Northwest and to bring a multi-faceted, global perspective to the business communities of Eugene and Portland.

In addition to his consulting work, Matt is also on the Board of Trustees for the Give Me Sight Organization  and was recently in Myanmar to executive produce a documentary that highlights the profound need for simple cataract removal surgeries, and how they dramatically improve the lives of the medically underserved. Matt also holds a passionate interest in promoting human rights and democratic values on a global scale. He is the Editor in Chief of Our Times and has conducted exclusive interviews with geopolitically important personalities including Viktor Yushchenko (former president of the Ukraine), Mohammad Nahavandian (current chief of staff to the president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani), Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin (currently South Sudan’s minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation), and a variety of ambassadors from around the world. Matt is also a regular attendant of the Oslo Freedom Forum and is fluent in four languages (English, German, Spanish and Norwegian).

“One of the principle drivers of all mankind is the desire to be a part of something that feels good and is deeply fulfilling. This could be personal relationships, life in a community and, of course, within a work environment. Compelling organizational cultures and authentic brand identities bring out the vast potentials of the knowledge-based co-creator (aka “employee”), attract the most vocally loyal customers, and inspire entire value chains of stakeholders. This kind of strategic advantage is extremely hard to copy and leads to sustained, superior financial results. Plus it’s amazing to be a part of. Isn’t life too short for anything less?”

—Matt Classen