Graduates return again (and again) for Cradle of Marketers

October 2018

Jay Murdock

For the sixth consecutive year, a group of marketing professionals took time from their careers to come back to Oxford and help future marketers develop their own careers. The Cradle of Marketers brought nearly two-dozen Miami University graduates to the Farmer School for panel discussions, mentoring sessions and classroom talks.

Despite their busy schedules, the marketers were eager to return to their alma mater. Some, like 1990 graduate and president of Resource/Ammirati John Kadlic, have participated several times.

“I enjoyed it so much that it was easy to want to return,” he noted. ”It’s a little bit of an opportunity to give back. It’s small, but to meet with these students who are ambitious and looking to do great things and, ideally, give them some perspective or answer to a material question for them, if it helps in some way, that makes you feel good.”

Others, like 1994 graduate Ray Doustdar, CEO & Founder of BUICED Liquid Vitamins, were taking part in the Cradle of Marketers for the first time. “I’ve been wanting to figure out how to get involved again with Miami,” he said. “My real goal is to get in front of the students because I think I offer a little bit of a unique perspective because I had the big corporate background, and then because of the skills I learned there, it enabled me to then take some real entrepreneurial risks and ventures.”

The participants drew upon their professional and personal experiences, both at Miami and in the years since, to impart some of their accumulated wisdom to the next generation. But some of the mentors said they’ve found that this generation is already further ahead of the game than they were when they were students.

“I think students are better today than I ever was. They’re more curious and more experienced because they’ve just done more things. It’s unbelievable what you can do in a college experience now vs. when I was in college, just what you can avail yourself of,” Kadlic explained. “Endless clubs, so much more academic stuff to do, more involvement with business, international programs all over the place. As a result, you get more diverse and interesting students because they’ve had more to do.”

“We were blown away by juniors and seniors at Miami, how prepared they are. We were idiots when we were juniors and seniors. We had no idea what we wanted to do. We were prepared for it to a degree, but these students are just so well prepared,” Global Marketing Director of Racquet Sports at Wilson Sporting Goods and 1999 graduate Kyle Schlegel said. “They’re so curious. They’re so worldly. They seem to have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in industry. The questions we get when we speak to a class or meet with students are things I didn’t think about until I was in my mid to late 20s.”

The mentors found different aspects of their time at Miami had the greatest impact upon their careers.

“I think the thing that I learned here that I use the most is interpersonal communication. I really thrived in the environment of Miami, the collaborative environment of the classroom and on the social side.” Doustdar noted. “That interpersonal communication has become my strength when it comes to business, when it comes to marketing -- not just marketing business, marketing me.”

“The best thing that I got out of Miami, other than a really great foundational education that I thought could take me anywhere, was the relationships,” Kadlic recalled. “To this day, I’ve have gotten such great benefits from the people I’ve met here, whether they’ve been in my field of study or not, for either friendship, mentorship, connections and networking, professional guidance, personal support.“

“I learned about lifelong friendships, or the start of lifelong friendships, from the classes, the glee club, the fraternity, “ 1989 graduate and VP of marketing for Graeter’s Ice Cream Tim Philpott said. “The marketing framework I developed in (Dave Rosenthal’s) class, I carried for many years. So that was impactful for me.”

Each mentor said that they hoped that their time with the Farmer School students would be helpful in one way or another. “I want to try to help them understand that even though they’ve got so many opportunities, don’t lose sight of gaining skill sets, don’t lose sight of knowing how to do something,” Doustdar said.

“The most fulfilling thing we do, as far as I’m concerned, is if there’s a nugget from my own personal experience that could be relevant to them in whatever they’re doing. Sometimes we’ve just discovered that during our conversations, and you feel like you gave something to that person, maybe a small little gift,” Kadlic remarked.

“I would love for students to come away with a bigger appreciation for the marketing profession. I think it’s fantastically fun. I think it’s engaging, it’s consumer-based, it’s business-based. It’s a fun profession, and I have found it to be very fun for 30 years, and I want to see folks that are looking to go into that career and to see the fun and enjoyment that I’ve had out of it,” Philpott said. “I’ve been in a lot of marketing positions, and they’ve all been fun in different ways, and I continue to have fun every day at work.”

“I leave this every year inspired by this next generation that’s going to come into the workforce,” Schlegel noted. “It’s just going to change everything. I’m excited about that.”

Click here to see photos from Cradle of Marketers
John Kadlic photo Ray Doustdar photo Kyle Schlegel photo Tim Philpott photo Cradle of Marketers panel discussion One-on-one talks between mentors, students KickGlass panel at Cradle of Marketers