The Futures Portfolio: Communications

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Across every industry and field, communicating effectively with others is an indispensable part of doing business. This necessity is reflected in the skills sought by employers;  spend some time reviewing job postings, and you’ll likely find that a requirement for “excellent written and verbal communication skills” is practically ubiquitous.  As such, people who choose to study Communications equip themselves with a knowledge base that can serve them well in today’s economy. Communications majors who add a background in business to their education do even more to enhance their prospects. This post features two SBI alumni who have used their dual background in business and communications to thrive professionally.

For the past six years, Regina Cappio Wilson has worked at Google’s New York offices, where she creates and manages advertising plans for clients that include spirits advertisers and major pharmaceuticals manufacturers. Mrs. Cappio Wilson creates plans that use Google’s search, video, and mobile platforms to ensure that “large advertisers connect with their key audiences where they are spending a great amount of time.” She started at Google as an account coordinator, a position that involves proposing media plans to advertisers, handling billing and contracts with clients, and tracking her team’s revenue performance. She currently works as an account manager, a position that involves keeping clients appraised of Google products and advertising opportunities that would complement their current online marketing.

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Regina Cappio Wilson, Account Manager at Google

While at Villanova, Mrs. Cappio Wilson focused on studying interpersonal communication, and this allowed her to develop a skill-set which is crucial to her current position. “I’m making sure the right person sees the right message at the right time. Understanding how to connect with people most effectively is an incredible asset for my role”, Cappio Wilson says. She also notes that her SBI experience helped her to better understand the needs of her clients’ brand directors, who she works closely with; “Through SBI, I have a clear view on what these folks are doing on a daily basis and I can focus on how to help their marketing efforts be most successful.”

In his work as a Business Consulting Manager at Sapient Global Markets, Ryan Doyle also makes the most of his dual background. Mr. Doyle began his career at Goldman Sachs, where he performed operations work in support of credit derivatives projects. As a consultant, Mr. Doyle helps clients implement the government rules that regulate derivatives trading. Industry-specific expertise in an important part of this job; Mr. Doyle notes that, “Clients come to Consulting firms to get work done they can’t do themselves. They expect Sapient consultants to be experts in the work they’re looking for.”

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Ryan Doyle, Business Consulting Manager at Sapient Global Markets

Strong communications skills and overall business acumen, however, are no less important. In addition to delivering consulting services to existing clients, consultants are expected to market their services to new clients and to ensure that a project makes sense for Sapient from a business management perspective; that is, to make sure that the company’s resources are being used in a manner that allows it to complete the project efficiently and profitably. Each of these functions requires Mr. Doyle to call upon different business and communications competencies. “Consultants spend a lot of time communicating, which sometimes gives a bad reputation to the industry,” Doyle says, “The real important factor is if you can back up the talk with genuine results, and you need business acumen in order to do so.”

These alumni advise current communications students seeking a job to do their research and to make the most of networking. Mr. Doyle also advises students to be open to new possibilities. “You may say you only want to work for a Tier 1 Investment Bank, or a Big 4 Consulting firm, but do you? There are trade-offs between each firm. Many times, a young professional can make more of an impact at a smaller firm where they have more of a voice.” For students interested in advertising, Mrs. Cappio Wilson offers a helpful thought exercise that students can use to sharpen their skills; “Pay attention to advertising! Why are you seeing certain ads? Where are you seeing them? Are you the appropriate target?”

A background in Communications empowers students to enter today’s demanding job market with a skill set that will always be in demand. The careers of Ryan Doyle and Regina Cappio Wilson demonstrate that complementing a Communications major with a business background can expand a student’s horizons even further.

The Futures Portfolio: Construction Management

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This post marks the first installment of the futures portfolio, a recurring series that will explore the diversity of careers that SBI alumni have built for themselves. 

Gary Dragona always knew that he wanted to build things, but his time in SBI convinced him to make a modification to his career plans. Mr. Dragona entered SBI as a Civil Engineering Major, but his time in the program piqued his interest in the business side of the construction industry. In order to pursue this interest, he transferred into the school of Arts & Sciences to study Economics.

Gary Dragona

Mr. Dragona now works as a Construction Manager for Tishman Construction, a major firm based in New York City. Dragona’s recent projects include upgrades to the security infrastructure at New York-New Jersey Port Authority facilities and repairs to property owned by Verizon Wireless that had been damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

In many ways, the title of construction manager matches the job description, but that description includes a broad array of responsibilities. When managing a site, Mr. Dragona is responsible for creating a plan for the site that includes a schedule and a budget. Once the plan is in place, it is also Mr. Dragona’s responsibility to implement it, and to ensure that construction is completed on time, under budget, and according to prevailing quality standards. He is responsible for managing the construction crews working on-site, for maintaining the project’s books, and for reviewing contracts. Construction Managers, in short, have to be familiar with a wide variety of business disciplines, including management, accounting, and business law.

Mr. Dragona’s background in economics has helped him to carry out these responsibilities, as it has helped him develop the cognitive skills that his job demands. “Economics has developed my quantitative and analytical skills which help keep my projects on schedule and under budget”, Dragona says. He notes that in order to succeed in the workforce, economics students have to apply the theoretical knowledge they learn to the unique attributes of their target industry. “it is important that you take what you learn in the classroom and apply it to the business sector you are in, all of which require an understanding of markets and rational choice.”

At first blush a transition from engineering to economics might seem an unusual career move for somebody interested in construction. This didn’t stop Gary Dragona, who saw a background in economics as the means by which he could pursue in twin interests in the business and construction worlds. By identifying a path that worked for him and pursuing it, Mr. Dragona was able to build a career, a livelihood, and more than a few buildings in the process.