Alumni of the Week: Michael Lombardi ’03, ’12 MBA

417920_10200113901635206_1415359325_n1999. It’s hard to believe my SU adventure started more than 15 years ago, but after attending undergrad, marrying a fellow alum, and returning again for my MBA, I’ve remained connected to the Syracuse and Whitman communities.

During my undergrad years, I was very active in student groups across campus, and one of my most rewarding experiences was founding the SU chapter of the Delta Sigma Pi professional business fraternity. As chapter president for several years, it was a unique opportunity to lead a large student group in the business school and interact with faculty and staff while juggling many professional, community service, fundraising and fraternity activities each semester. I’m happy to know that the chapter is still active and thriving and providing leadership opportunities for new students.

In a way, the student group was also how I fell into my career. I had never considered advertising, but after attending an event on campus featuring a speaker from a Syracuse ad agency (now part of Eric Mower), I was motivated. He spoke about his career as an account manager, working to manage multiple projects and lead diverse teams, all to solve client marketing problems; I could do that! I invited him to be a guest speaker of the business fraternity, and I later interned at the agency for a semester. I was hooked.

Though 250 miles separate Syracuse and New York City, it’s easy to see Manhattan as an extension of campus; this made moving here right after graduation and searching for employment much more manageable. Many alum have relocated to the area and the SU and Whitman alumni groups are very active. Not to mention SU sports abound–hoops at Madison Square Garden, Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium and “New York’s Home Team” atop taxi cabs.

It was during an alumni weekend back at SU that I discovered the online MBA program, now called MBA@Syracuse. Already several years into my advertising career and working…we’ll say, many more hours than 9-5…I chose the Whitman MBA for its incredible flexibility, allowing me to stay employed full time and continue to gain work experience, while working toward a higher education that combined in-person and virtual learning. I was even able to spend one of my residencies in Seoul, Korea, which was an amazing opportunity not only to experience the culture but also to meet with companies like Samsung, LG and Hyundai. While you’ll hear that an MBA is not mandatory in advertising, like it may be for advancement in other fields, it was both a personal goal of mine fulfilled and it’s been incredibly helpful for me in relating to the business goals of my clients and for staying on an even playing field when consulting for them.

I now work for OgilvyOne, a global marketing agency in New York with a rich legacy from its founder David Ogilvy. As the director of customer relationship marketing (CRM), I lead CRM strategy for our largest client, IBM. It’s a job where I get to bring my experience in B2B marketing forward and create recommendations that will help our client generate business leads and revenue. I spend a lot of time consulting on communications plans and technologies to make our marketing more personalized and relevant to prospects and customers.

When I look back, so many of my academic experiences prepared me for my career today. Marketing research, statistical analysis, industry and competitive reviews, product differentiators–all those buzzwords that you’ll learn in your Capstone and MBA courses–I put into practice almost every day. My advice: get involved, gain every experience you can and make the most of it!

Michael Lombardi
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