Alumni of the Week: Heather Colby ’93

Heather Colby for Syracuse University Whitman Head shotKEEP OPENING DOORS: HERE ARE MY TOP 5 DOORS

“When one door closes, another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

Opportunity is defined as a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. But what is that something? Through our tumultuous everyday lives, it is difficult to identify opportunity from distraction. While at Whitman, I was fortunate to be able to test opportunity versus distraction without much risk.

As a young, eager student, I was involved in many organizations and Whitman made it possible for me to attend marketing conferences in Chicago, Orlando and other cities to learn about business and make new connections across the country. From being the vice president of Pi Sigma Epsilon marketing fraternity to selling AT&T programs on Marshall Street to performing with the acapella jazz and madrigal choirs, the opportunities to experience and learn were endless. Below, you’ll see how key opportunities and connections can change your entire world.

SU Undergrad: Opportunity #1: During my junior year at Whitman, many of my peers were getting internships with companies. Through connections, I was very fortunate to obtain a summer position at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, as a merchandise hostess. Not only did I learn and experience a fully extended version of a supply chain management class in real life and the ultimate in customer service but also friendships and experiences to last a lifetime.

Whitman Graduation: Opportunity #2: (1993) Graduation was a proud moment. Shall we say, the ultimate in opening doors and seeking opportunities? Nervous, like so many graduates of 2016, I had no idea what the business world had in store for me.

Corporate/Global: Opportunity #3: (1993-2001) Solid experience began to form through managing marketing, promotions and setting direction for product development at Hasbro, Inc., to brand management at BIC Corporation and new business development in an entrepreneurial roll at Applica on the Black & Decker brands. My new challenges involved responsibility for many different brands and products across several different industries on a global level.

Entrepreneurial: Opportunity #4: (2001 – 2016) Downshifting to a closed door, in 2001 Applica Incorporated requested that I to move to Miami Lakes, Florida, as the company was closing the Connecticut office after 9/11. I chose not to move with Applica to Florida; instead I opened my own door and started a communications company. Having a great partner at the time, we successfully out-bid the incumbent public relations company for Applica and Black & Decker brands and started Link Marketing, LLC. We managed their public relations in New York City while they developed operations in Florida. We managed exciting NYSE bell ringing ceremonies for Applica that combined investor and media relations events at locations like the SOHO House in New York City.

In 2002, I started a new company, Colby Strategic Marketing, which focused on building and executing brand and integrated marketing strategies for small to medium-sized businesses. By using my experience at large corporations, I was able to provide global strategic planning solutions on a smaller level with successful results. Recognizing that small businesses do not have time to manage their marketing dollars and tactics, Colby Strategic Marketing became an extension of their business with world-class solutions. This journey recorded branding, web and marketing projects with New York State entities like the state tourism group, department of motor vehicles and historic preservation programs. Additionally, it opened doors to new industries like finance, real estate, restaurant, spas, marine, non-profits and more, which continued to broaden my experience and expertise.

Higher Educational: Opportunity #5: The most recent door that opened for me was at the University of Rhode Island (URI). We moved to Rhode Island two years ago, and I was re-establishing my company when I happened upon a job posting for Manager, Marketing & Advertising at URI. The opportunity sounded very interesting so I applied. Seven months later, the job was mine.

The key to tracking a great career path is to decipher the difference between opportunity and distraction. I am very happy with the opportunities I’ve identified throughout my career and have poured all of my heart and soul into each one of them. Give 110 percent and get 120 percent out of each opportunity that you can pour into the next. That’s how it works.

So look for the open door, always, continue to improve yourself and test your limits. Take my advice; make the first door be Syracuse University Whitman School of Management and, of course, always #IBleedOrange.

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Heather Colby
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2 comments on “Alumni of the Week: Heather Colby ’93

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    1. Thank you so much Judy! I am truly honored. Whitman launched my career and I have met so many wonderful people and learned so much about global and local business since I left. I have been very lucky to have had such wonderful experiences. I owe it to so many of the great people I have worked with over the years. I look forward to opening many more doors!