A New Face in the Department -- Ms. Sandra Kumorowski, the newest member of the Marketing Communication Department faculty. She discusses her goals and background with this year’s Patricia McCarty Scholarship winner, Shelby Jacobs.Where are you from?
I was born and grew up in the Czech Republic. My hometown is Kromeriz - a town that is small in size but endowed with rich and important history that goes back to the ninth century.
Though I grew up during communism, I received a solid and well-rounded education. The school system in the Czech Republic stayed somewhat untouched by the communist ideology, when it comes to breadth and depth of the classes and topics offered. The great focus was placed on sports and art education. The history and sociology classes, however, were evidently manipulated to preach communist ideals. When I started high school, the communist regime fell and we were for the first time in 40 years feeling the real freedom of thought, speech and movement. I was finally free to travel, and I did visit many countries in Europe immediately upon the system change. In my first year at the University of Economics, I had a calling and decided to visit the United States – indefinitely.
When you were in grade school, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I remember I wanted to be many things – singer, dancer, actress, teacher, hairdresser, make-up artist and writer – but all of them had to do with people and art. And it all came together nicely. I am now an Assistant Professor at Columbia and it’s all about people and art. We should never stop following our passions.
Please describe your professional path from college to today.
It is very difficult to know, when you are young, what one wants to do in life. The key is to understand one’s passions. Obviously, I did not know right away what I wanted to do but I paid close attention to experiences that made me excited and happy.
When I think about it, my professional path really started in high school. I got my first job and worked every summer in a prestigious hotel owned by a personal friend. I learned so much about discipline and job responsibility. Then I worked through my college years here in the States, mostly full-time. Naturally, some of the jobs were not the right match, but I was trying to learn from them something about the commerce, and most importantly, about myself. I worked as a business analyst, marketing manager, clinical assistant, researcher, brand strategist, team leader, etc.
All of these jobs sum up into over a 10-year experience in marketing, consulting and business development. They include project work with Fortune 500 companies (Apple, AT&T, Nordstrom, PepsiCo, Audi, Nintendo, etc.). I also own a business strategy consultancy, Enakta LLC, that offers marketing and business development strategy and personal branding services and programs. Being actively involved with Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation as a chair of marketing and communications for its Chicago Chapter has given me a new perspective on life.
However, the key finding from my professional path so far is what I have learned about myself and what led me to my current job – teaching:
1. I love learning about, connecting and spending time with people.
2. I love spreading the information.
3. I love creating something new.
4. I love changing things for the better.
Based on these, I have realized that working in education is my true calling.
For the past two years, I have taught a graduate integrated marketing communications class and career development courses at Loyola University Chicago. I also develop educational programs and lecture internationally. The most recent endeavors include an e-marketing course at Middlesex University in London and development launch of an integrated marketing communication strategy course in the SSME Masters Program at Faculty of Informatics, Masaryk University in the Czech Republic.
Why did you want to teach at Columbia?
Art is my passion – any kind of art – music, dance, visual, marketing (yes, I consider it art). Teaching at an institution like Columbia College Chicago that is focused on art and innovation is a dream come true for me. I have been exposed to and engaged in many art-related activities since I was a child. Coming from a family of musicians, I grew up singing opera arias with my grandmother and listening to my father playing his favorite ragtime pieces on our now 135-year old piano.
I am formally educated in piano, voice and history of music. I studied these for 12 years. Furthermore, I have always liked drawing and painting and became a real fan of visual arts.
Simply, art and artists inspire me. I’d like to understand what was going through the artist’s mind when creating. I want to understand what life experiences made him or her into the artist he or she has eventually become. It was always fascinating for me to look at a piece of art and see the artist’s life in it. These experiences bring shivers down my spine and that’s why I chose Columbia. I want to be close to art - as close as possible. To see it, feel it, live it.
What courses will you be teaching?
I am very excited to teach three marketing courses: Creative Marketing, Marketing Case Workshop and Developing a Marketing Plan.
How would you describe your teaching methods?
I like to connect with students on a personal level. Only this way, can I understand their true needs and help them activate their true potential. I am convinced that when you accomplish that, the value to them and the society can be tremendous. In addition, creating an environment where students can interact and build lasting relationships with one another and with people outside their college circles results in a long-term benefit to everyone. This way, students can form valuable relations while still in college. I simply put emphasis on our continuous future, which is in the long-term relationships that are built on solid ethical standards, passions and care for others. Only this way, we can thrive as individuals and jointly as a society.
What are three pieces of advice you would offer your students concerning their college years?
The three pieces of advice I have for college students are:
1. Be open to new experiences and make friends with classmates and professors alike. College friendships usually last for a lifetime.
2. Enjoy learning. It will help you understand the world and your place in it.
3. Follow your passions.