Gwynedd Mercy University Vice President for Marketing & Enrollment Management
Post University Master, Education
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
S O. I took a little bit of a winding journey, which I think many people dio. When I first graduated college, I ended up in New York City at a company that did a furniture design and manufacturing, and I was a marketing assistant back then, so I kind of worked my way up there pretty quickly. And then I joined a TNT. Andi ended up in their public relations areas, so not so much in marketing, but more in public relations and media relations. On Ben. I did a lot of consulting on both sides. So marketing and public relations and, uh, took a turn into higher ed back in the early two thousands and did some teaching and then also worked within the marketing and communications departments, uh, at universities. And today I have marketing, admissions and financial aid at Gwynedd Mercy University, which is located in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia.

What responsibilities and decisions does one handle in a job like yours? What are the top three priorities? What are weekly work hours like?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
Okay, so the responsibilities are all of the marketing for the university. So looking at digital marketing, print, marketing, outdoor, uh, email marketing. So the full complement of marketing and then admissions, um, primarily focused on traditional campus undergraduate students. So students looking for a four year college experience at Gwynedd Mercy University and, um, we also work with online and accelerated adult students who are looking for graduate degrees or away. Thio earn their degree while they're still working full time. So we have, ah, kind of broad mix of students here at the university. And then I also took on financial aid a couple of years ago, so helping students manage the cost of attending university in terms of top priorities. It's really structured around the strategic plan for the university. So we operate under a five year strategic plan, and then each area has their key priorities and initiatives that they work on. So my team and I really focused on moving those initiatives forward. Um, and we kind of develop our division plan around those initiatives, so we stay focused because there's always so much to do. Sometimes you can, as I call it, you can chase the shiny stuff and you don't want to. You want to stay focused on what's most important, So I tend to do that. And then, um, weekly work week. Oh, my, um, they're long. They're busy. I would say it. A 40 hour work week is not something I am familiar with. I would say closer to 55 60 hours a week. Um, some weekends, good number of nights. Certainly I'm a morning person, so I'm usually at my desk before seven. That's just, and that's just more personal preference.

What are major challenges and pain points in a job like yours? What approaches are effective in overcoming them? Discussing examples will help students learn better.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
Um, I would say the challenges are fairly consistent across any, um, position. You're really wanting to make sure you stay focused on your priorities. It can. There's so much going on that you have to constantly come back to Okay, What are we trying to accomplish? How are we going to get there? What's our plan? Who's handling what? Um, and how do we partner across the university so that we're not just looking at our own little areas? Um, I think silos could be a huge challenge. And organizations, if people don't understand how what they're doing, impacts people in other departments impacts for us students because that's who we care about the most. I mean, are we doing the things that make students lives better? Are we focusing on efficiency and service and an ability to solve problems across departments? You don't bounce people from one place to another that Z that's important to me. And a couple of years ago, we really joined together as a broad university team toe look at opportunities to strengthen our partnerships and our understanding of how what we do impacts how, but other people dio so that was certainly an area of focus and then the approaches. To be honest, I think collaboration, communication and transparency are the best ways to address challenges and thio reduce the pain of paying points. So working with your colleagues in an open way, being really upfront about what's happening, Um, I think when people I think sometimes organizations have trouble with trust when there people have no idea what's going on and all of a sudden there's a change made, but they don't have any context as to why. So here, a Gwynedd Mercy University. We focus a lot on communication and collaboration and transparency, making sure that people know what's happening and they understand where they fit in the bigger picture. And I certainly take that very seriously because I think it makes a huge difference.

What are the job titles of people who someone in your role routinely works with, within and outside of the organization? What approaches are effective in working with them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
so I would say, at least inside the university, um, I work with obviously the director of financial aid, the director of admissions. We have an assistant director of marketing. We have social media, manager of public relations manager Um, but I also work a lot with the bursar. And with the births are which is the billing office at the university. Um, I work a lot with information technology. So the chief information officer that programmers, the people who are really making the systems work for us, who can get the reports out of the systems. Um, in partnership with us, we have an operations manager here in admissions who I work with a lot. And then externally, I would say we work with external marketing professionals. So again, digital marketing is a big area of focus, so someone may end up in digital communications or digital marketing, Whereas it used to be called communications and marketing. The world is so digital, that tends to be a much more a growing area of focus. Um e think those air probably the top ones. And again they approach in the effective working. It is all about being a partner. So especially internally and externally. But when you have an external organization to really be a partner, to look for opportunities, to do things differently, to try new things, to not be afraid to throw something out there and say I wonder what would happen if we did this? Let's try it, Andi. That requires a partnership versus a vendor client relationship. You have to really be invested on both sides in growing.

How would you describe your management style? How has it evolved over the years? Can you tell about experiences or books that influenced your management style?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
so I would say, um, I like to think of myself as a servant leader, so I don't ask my team to do anything that I wouldn't be willing to do myself. I try to be very collaborative and supportive and informed, So I ask a lot of questions. I try not to assume that I understand what someone is dealing with unless I've taken the time to dig in and and figure it out a little bit more, Um, I tend to really like to focus on how we can work together Better. You know how we conform those strong partnerships, how we can communicate clearly with one another on. But I also like to be someone where it's not a surprise about where you stand or how how well things were going. I'd like to be pretty up front. I think that's helpful, Um, for people to understand what needs to happen and how they're doing and and where we might want to partner together with someone else to fill a gap or something like that. Andi, I would say that's definitely evolved over time. Um, you you develop your leadership skill as you grow in your position and I have found the older I get the more important things, like integrity and word indeed, and respect and hiring good people and letting them do their job, um is it becomes so much more important because it allows you to get so much more done efficiently.

How do you manage conflicts within and across teams? How do you promote trust, openness and a healthy work culture? Sharing stories will greatly help.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
Yeah, again. I think that has everything to do with communication. And, um, something we call, you know, sitting on the same side of the table. It's hard to really understand how what you're doing impact someone else unless you understand what they're doing. So asking questions. And, um, instead of assuming that your process or your way of thinking is the right way or the only way to kind of dig in and say, Okay, well, how does that impact you and what's your pain point? So one of the things I ask a lot is, you know, where is your pain points? Um, how does what we do influence that? How could we perhaps rethink the way we do it so that it becomes better for everyone? And that's hard. I mean, it takes time, and everyone has to be willing to participate. Eso, I think, um, you build trust when you're open. You build trust when you do what you say when you walk your talk, um, you build trust by being transparent by letting people know what's going on

How can one get better recognition of work from one's boss and higher management? What mistakes should one avoid? Stories or examples will be quite helpful.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
hm. To be honest, I feel like the best way to get recognition is Thio do your job excellently Thio do what's required, but then look for opportunities to do more, um to not complain. You know, if you have an issue or a challenge or a problem, bring it forward, but come with some ideas on how to address it versus just complaining. I don't find that particularly helpful. And I think a positive work environment is so much more productive than a night one. So, um, in my experience, people who just do their jobs well, um do him positively ask for opportunities to grow. I love when people on my team say, Hey, I really wanna learn about such and such. Do you think we could fit that into what we do? And I'm like, Yeah, let's learn about that. And if it works, yeah, yes. And if it doesn't okay, we can move on. Um, so I think that's one of the best ways, Andi, That positivity goes a long way in an organization because you're then you'll be someone that people wanna work with versus someone that people want to avoid. Um, and in terms of, ah, story or two again when we looked at, and I'll use one from one at Mercer University. You know, there were definite hiccups in the process between, you know, you look at how you package someone in financial aid and then they have to pay their bill on registered for their classes. You know, looking at that whole life cycle, how do we make those processes a little bit cleaner for the student and also solve some of the challenges on the back end where people might get frustrated because things take a little too long or they don't know why it takes so long to do this or that Eso I think that really helps and and I think people who are a good team players tend to get recognition for that.

What indicators are used to track performance in a job like yours? Think of the indicators such as key performance indicators (KPIs), objectives & key results (OKRs), or so on.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
You know, we tend to look at things from leading indicators and lagging indicators. So what are the things that tell you you're on the right track toward achieving your goals? And then the lagging indicators did you achieve them? And where we're we're not. So then, then you can really take a closer look at what part of the process may have broken down or what part went exceptionally well and you want to replicate it or and further improve it in another area. You want to kind of take that learning and apply it somewhere else. So for us, of course, um, in the admission side enrollment, of course So but there are leading indicators. You know how many people are enquiring how maney are applying how maney are completing those applications. How many are we accepting? How Maney are enrolling eso? You can look at all of those indicators on the financial aid side. You know how many people need a package? How many people have been packaged? How long did it take? How many have been hanging out in the queue? Why are they hanging out in the queue? You know how many submitted their paperwork when they were supposed to, um, did we answer their questions? Do we have anyone waiting in the phone? Q. Because you don't want anyone waiting. You wanna be ableto provide great service. So looking at all of those indicators, and I think the more you track your indicators, the more you can see opportunities for improvement.

What marketing software and channels do you use to find and engage prospective students? Which are less effective? Which one do you recommend to students to learn?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
well, you use a lot of different channels because different students have different interests and different, um, comfort. So, for some will use email marketing for some will use text. Some will use both. We use digital marketing. So if you're asking what students should focus on understanding if you wanna be in marketing, understanding of the lad words understanding social media and advertising on social media, knowing how to navigate Google analytics so that you're constantly looking at your metrics, Um, if you want to be on the market side, search engine optimization is a big area of focus. In other words, do you understand how people consume information and are you available to them when they're looking for something you have to offer eso If someone wants to enter marketing, I would say, aside from being excellent at communication and strong writers and strong presenters understanding the Google suite, you know, Google Analytics and Google AdWords and Google, my business and all of those things that help UM, organizations find and connect with prospective students

What skills and qualities do you look for while hiring? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
for me, the biggest thing I look for while two biggest things is someone who loves to learn and constantly wants to develop new skills. And someone who sees the world is glass half full versus glass, half empty because you can't really teach that you can teach a lot of things. So if I hire someone who has the basic skills that we need, but it's intellectually curious and is not afraid to try new things and ask questions on Day tends to approach everything with a can do attitude. I think that goes such a long way, and I've seen so many people on my teams over the years really start in one position but evolved into something much different and bigger because they're intellectually curious. They wanna learn how to do new things. They're ready to say, I want to try this. They're not afraid to not know the answer because who knows all the answers? Nobody. So ask the questions and then see what you can learn on your own and then come together with your teammates and say, Okay, I got this far, and now I'm kind of stuck here. Does anyone have an answer for me. Can anyone help me? So I think those air really big qualities. Um, integrity's big, um, People who do what they say and say what they dio, um, on respect people who are going to be great team members.

Can you discuss career accomplishment(s) that you feel good about? Please discuss the problem context, your solution, and the impact you made.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
uh, the questions can be focused more on, um, asking scenario questions. So can you talk about a time when you had conflict and you you had to figure out a way to address that conflict? It gives you some insight into how they approach things that are difficult or confusing or unfamiliar. Um, I tend to ask the question, Are you glass half empty your glass half full? You know, how do you see the world? What's your approach? Um, tend to ask questions around, um, what their interests are, because again, if if you're having an interview with me, I've assess based on your resume that you have the basic qualifications, you know how to do the thing. I need you to dio. What I want to know is, can you do more than that? And can you do it in a way that inspires and motivates others on the team? So, to me, it's more about getting to know the personality and the fit because someone who has, you know, I tend to ask questions about, you know, do you always need credit? Does it have to be yours because in my team, it doesn't work that Well, I mean, I often have no idea who's idea it. Waas and I don't really care. I just want to know that it works and that everyone's excited about it. Um, so people who need to do things on Lee this way all the time, uh, tend not to be so successful for me personally because things change all the time and you have to be able to change with them.

What responsibilities and decisions did you handle? What were the top three priorities and pain points? What strategies were effective in dealing with challenges?

Based on experience at: Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Post University
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
um, it was just It was some of the same things I do now, but now I have a lot more on my plate. So there it was primarily focused on the marketing and the communications. So I did a lot of, um, materials development and worked with our copywriter and with our graphic designer and looked at the advertising content and worked closely with the president on the overall university messaging, Um, whereas here it's that, and admissions and financial aid. So it's just a broadening of the scope of responsibilities and having to really learn new skills around financial aid, for example, being able to understand what the rules around title for funding is being able to understand the timelines and the processes that go behind that packaging strategy. So it's really, um, taking the same soft skills and then learning more back end hard skills

What college programs did you attend and what were their best parts? How did each of your college programs prepare you for your career?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
So I got an undergraduate duel degree in English and communications at Albright College, which is a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. Um, and to be honest, I went there because the financial aid package was the best one, and I needed financially, Um, and I I The thing I learned most there to be honest was, uh, time management, because I had to work full time and I had to go to school full time and pay my own way. So it was a lot of juggling, and I that really helped me a lot later on, You know, you have much more capacity than you think. You dio um, unless someone kind of pushes U T that, um, new gear. As I like to say, you don't necessarily know you have it so that I learned a lot about my ability to get things done. When I was in undergrad and then grad, I went to Post University and I got my masters degree online and loved it because I could work my full day and then from nine to midnight at night, I would get online and meet people all over the country on and the world who were interested in the same kinds of things, and you could kind of go down a rabbit hole. They'd given assignment. And you have all these online. Resource is you could learn anything you wanted related to that assignment. And I used to say, I felt like my brain was on fire. It was so exhilarating. But you didn't get a lot of sleep because, um, you just could you could take your brain in so many directions on it was exhausting but exhilarating.

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? If any, please also discuss your experiences facing adversity, or trying something unusual.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
um, I would say three life lessons is to trust your gut like you As you grow in your career in your life, you'll start to know what feels right and what doesn't and trusting your gut is a is a very useful strategy, um, to genuinely care about people, and not that you wouldn't. But Thio, you know, take the time Thio understand who they are and what motivates them and what they're interested in professionally on DSO Sometimes, uh, personally, you know, you know a little bit about you don't need to know all about their personal life, but just toe care about people and and and their opportunities to grow. Uh and then the other thing I've learned is people want to feel valued and valuable. So look for opportunities to help people feel that. You know, if you look at motivators, um, it's not often money that motivates people. Assure people want that, but it's not. They want to feel valued. They want to feel that, like what they do matters, that there's a reason to be here, that they feel good about coming to work and doing what they're doing and learning more, um, to me. I think those have been really wonderful lessons. Um And then in terms of facing adversity Mm, I'm hesitant here. When I was early in my career, um, I was usually the youngest at the table and often the only woman at the table, and it was difficult to navigate the way people would talk to me or treat me as though I didn't have a brain in my head. Um, so I think it's just kind of looking at ability based on what the person can actually do versus what people think. So I kept having to step back and say, Yeah, but I actually do know how to do that. So I'm just gonna have to show up tomorrow and demonstrate yet again. But I know how to do that. And eventually someone will get out of the way. Um, I think that was a very hard lesson, and it was very frustrating. Um, but the more you kind of push through it, the easier it gets. So I would say anyone who's feeling like they're not taken seriously or feeling like people don't believe in their capabilities. Just look at the data. Are you good at this or not? Yes. Okay, then go. Be good at it.

What starting job (after internship) would you recommend to students who hope to grow professionally like you? What other parting advice, dos, and don'ts would you give?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Mon Nov 16 2020
Oh, starting job. And if you want to be in marketing, I would say definitely. Look for internships. Um, where you could do some writing where you can explore multimedia capabilities. So video and audio and graphic design. If that interests you, I don't have any personal graphic design capabilities. That's why I hire really good people who know how to do that. Because it's not my strong suit. Um, if you're looking for admissions, I would say being an admissions counselor is a wonderful way toe. Learn about admissions from the ground up. And to really understand how toe build relationships with people, um, who are varying stages of what they want to do in life. They're not sure from a financial aid perspective again, um, taking an entry level job in financial aid and understanding how toe work with families who some of whom really understand financial aid and some of whom have no idea how it works. So kind of again building your communications muscle and your ability to meet people where they are. I think those air good opportunities, um, Jews and don't To me, the biggest do the biggest do is show up, do a great job, Work your hardest, ask for more, learn more and don't complain. Um, so Big Stone is Don't complain. Um, and not that you can't say I'm having trouble and not that you can see. Can't say that this area of the organization is complicated for me, but do it in a positive can do. Let's work this out versus, um, just complaining for the sake of complaining, Um, don't play a blame game. I think that's so unproductive. Well, it's so and so's fault. It's always too. Can't always be one. So I would say that's really important. Um, and then just believe in yourself. Believe that you can do it because chances are you really can and then acknowledge when you really can't. I don't know how to do this. I just don't. And I'm either gonna have to learn, or I'm gonna have to say, this isn't right for me and, uh, own that. Don't be afraid to say I don't I don't know how to do this