C&F alumnus offers career guidance

Melissa Weigel

Mark Samuels, senior vice president and chief of marketing officer of SEI Investments and a University alumnus, recently returned to the University in order to offer advice to students in the Commerce and Finance school.

He began his presentation by asking, “Who am I?” and offering $20 to the person who got the correct answer. The surprising answer was, “I’m you…35 years later.” He stressed the fact that all students here could get to where he was, as long as they planned his career accordingly.

“You have to work hard to examine yourself and match yourself up with a job you like,” Samuels said.

The Financial Management Association and the Student Marketing Society worked together to bring him to school to talk to students about opportunities in the field of marketing and to show how marketing and finance often work together in business.

SEI Investments administered over $288 billion in mutual fund and pooled assets, managed over $120 billion in assets and operated 22 offices in 11 countries last year. Throughout his career, Samuels has owned one firm, been the president of another, sat on four executive committees and participated in or been a member of a half dozen other boards.

“I’ve been doing this for awhile, so I can give you some pretty good insights,” he said. “I believe it’s fundamentally important to enjoy what you do … you spend too much time doing it not to.”

He showed the students that he too was once just like them. He listed activities he used to do at Villanova: visiting local bars, living in the Devon Strafford Apartments, visiting the Jersey shore and following the basketball team.

The first step in making the transition to business, according to Samuels, is a good education. Then, people should set goals and build experiences and skills to help them reach that goal.

“The point is, you’ve got to plan your future,” he said.

The consumer is king, Samuels advised students, and the world is becoming an interdependent economy. According to him, people who remember these ideas and focus their careers on them will go far.

He said that marketing is actually the philosophy by which a person runs a company. It means going to clients and figuring out what they want and then providing them with that rather than first making a product and then persuading the market to buy it.

This is where finance comes in; a marketing philosophy such as this one will initially cost a company money. But it will pay off in the end, he said.

The students who attended the presentation seemed very receptive to his advice, asking numerous questions .

Junior Vanessa Falcon, a member of the Villanova Marketing Society, worked to bring Samuels to campus. “I think he did a great job combining the marketing aspect with the financial aspect,” she said.