Tell us about your current career outside of being an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College.
Today, I head up Airworthy Marketing, a communications firm dedicated to offering effective communications strategies and tactics that advance a company’s brand and generate growth. Basically, I help companies articulate what they do and why it matters, positioning them for greater success.
Airworthy Marketing specializes in helping companies with particularly complex or high-tech products and services craft a message – a story – for the media or a target audience. My practice focuses mainly on industries such as aviation, manufacturing, transportation management and healthcare – businesses that many audiences often just don’t “get.”
What was your first “real world” job?
I started out as an assistant editor for a business-to-business publishing company in Chicago. The company published several monthly trade magazines serving the aviation and automotive industries, and I did everything from proofreading galleys and pasting up page layouts to rewriting news releases and writing full-fledged feature articles. I learned a tremendous amount about news gathering, writing, and the connections between the news business and marketing – and I had a ball doing it.
Many of those jobs simply don’t exist anymore in today’s inter-connected media world, but the demand for sharp minds who can express complex ideas – yours or a client’s – in clear, fresh and compelling ways remains as strong as ever.
Professional accomplishments you’ve achieved over the years?
Over a 30-year career, I’ve been fortunate to contribute to many successful ventures, both in media and marketing. I founded an aviation magazine focused on the business of maintaining aircraft, the first media outlet of its kind in that industry. That innovation gave hundreds of companies a marketing capability they’d never had before, and they thrived as a result. So did we, as the industry leader in ad pages and ad revenue for more than a decade.
Media and trade shows are closely related forms of marketing, so I have also guided the launch and management of some highly successful trade expositions and technology conferences throughout the United States. With such ventures, we created important new outlets for bringing buyer and seller together, expanding and strengthening an evolving media business model.
What drives your professional career?
Moving beyond my “comfort zone” – learning and relearning constantly changing industries and adapting my skills to help new and established clients alike solve their marketing communication challenges.
Three pieces of advice that would be helpful to any student.
1) Watch whom you take advice from.
2) Try to not fall in love with one “ideal” job or career. There are jobs in industries you don’t yet know exist. And there will be other jobs in industries that don’t yet exist. You can usually apply a good education to more than one type of job – if you’re open to all the possibilities.
3) Ask informed questions (or even “dumb” questions) in the classroom, in interviews and in life. Don’t sit and wonder about things you don’t fully understand; ask. Sounds simple, but most people don’t like to do it.