Alumni of the Week: Tory Gentes ’10

As a student, it can be hard to see how your everyday experiences and choices will someday lead you to a lifestyle and career that will suit you perfectly. Now having almost eight years to reflect on my undergraduate experience at Syracuse University, it becomes obvious.

I transferred to SU after my freshman year and am beyond grateful I took the leap of faith to transfer. Simply put, the opportunities are endless at SU. I came into the Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises (EEE) program and absolutely fell in love with the plethora of options for hands-on, experiential learning. I dove in head first and participated in almost EVERYTHING my program had to offer, such as the D’Aniello Internship program, Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa program, Panasci Business Plan Competition, Entrepreneurship Club (president in 2009 -2010), and the Couri Hatchery. I felt so fortunate at the time to have a school that supported all my entrepreneurial efforts with open arms.

After graduating, I took a role as the Student Entrepreneurial Consultant under the Kauffman Foundation, where I actively helped spread entrepreneurship across campus. At the time, IDEA was an initiative on campus to help ALL students find a place for entrepreneurship within their programs.

As a person who learns by doing, Syracuse University was EXACTLY where I needed to be. As the story goes, while I was working on a business plan for my T-shirt company at the time, I made a contact with a company based out of Toronto, Canada. Little did I know, this contact would be my soon-to-be business partner in the world of qualitative market research.

As I continued to hone in on a career that would suit me perfectly, I realized qualitative market research combined all the elements I love: people, business, marketing, research, story telling and travel. I now get to do what I love every day: travel the world and talk to strangers. At The Palmerston Group (, I am an Immersive Ethnographer, which means I work with big brands to collect ground-level, authentic insights that fuel their business strategies. I’ve worked with companies, such as Cirque du Soleil, Coca-Cola, and EA and it’s brought me all over the world from Shanghai to the Dominican Republic.

As I look back on my time at SU, I can pinpoint all the small moments that helped prepare me for this world on my own where I use unconventional efforts to reach out to people in their environments, in real time. To give one example, I remember being deathly afraid of talking to large audiences and I utilized taking a position as the Entrepreneurship Club President to help fuel my confidence in talking to people, presenting to large audiences, and developing strategic plans based on community input. This position forced me to get in front of large audiences on campus to pitch the benefits of joining the club. Needless to say, that twinge of anxiety never really goes away, but that experience gave me the confidence to be a speaker in my field. My speaking engagements have brought me all over the country as well as internationally to a conference in Vienna, Austria.

I truly believe you can design any career that is perfectly suited for you, and Syracuse University helped me set the foundation to live the lifestyle of my dreams. By engaging fully with the community around you, the experience at Syracuse University goes beyond the classroom.

Tory Gentes
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