Business Pirates hit NYC
A Google search on Pirates and New York City yields numerous results, including a Seattle Times article stating that in New York in 1692, “piracy was a leading economic-development tool in the city’s competition with the ports of Boston and Philadelphia.” Famed pirate Captain William Kidd built a house and the Trinity Church in the city before his hanging in England.
Fast forward more than 300 years, and in early October 2023, more than 20 East Carolina University College of Business (COB) graduate and undergraduate students descended on the Big Apple for a different purpose: exposure to business environments found not only outside the conference room but outside the state of North Carolina.
The students represent the Arthur School’s immersive MBA pathway and the COB’s undergraduate student leadership board. For many, business knowledge, skills and networking opportunities have been handed down from professors and instructors with industry experience. Some students might have worked with local businesses for class projects. Some might have interned with companies scattered around North Carolina. Now, they have the experience of traveling to the financial center of the world.
“We wanted to give our students new experiences that will prepare them for broader, possibly more global opportunities,” said Mike Harris, interim dean, College of Business. “I think they got it, and better understand just how far an ECU degree can take them.”
Along with experiencing fine dining at iconic New York restaurants and a couple of shows, the students met with ECU alums Sean Clark ‘18, who works at PIMCO, an investment company; Sarah Evans ‘01, Miller Orians ’15, and Stevie Dupree-Parker ‘20 with J/PR, a global communications firm; and Ryan Johnson with BMG Music, a music publisher. Lessons learned were shared. Insightful questions were answered. Experiences were had and connections were made.
Seizing the opportunity
“The night before (the trip), I specifically edited my resume for BMG. I wanted a different copy for them since (they require) a different set of skills,” said Jenna Scott, Arthur School Immersive MBA student. “I have a background in music. Music has always been in my family. I was involved with ECU’s jazz ensemble program and its choirs. Even though I had a different major, I was always in the music building. Everyone thought I was a music major since I was always in the building.”
BMG Music proved to be the second visit on the first day of the four-day trip. Scott and the rest of the students, energized from the plane ride, strode into a New York City high-rise, piled into an elevator, and eventually found themselves in a conference room where Johnson greeted them.
Johnson is a senior director of creative music licensing at BMG. His job is the envy of many. The popular music paired with selling cars or found in your favorite movies happens because of Johnson. He is a graduate of ECU, but he’s not a business major. He received his education degree in 2004.
He spoke to the College of Business student contingent about his career path and how he eventually landed a job he loves. He told the Pirates it started at ECU.
“I wanted to pursue a music career,” said Johnson. “So, I decided to take advantage of the resources ECU made available. I was getting all this real-world experience through ECU, and that’s what I wanted to communicate.”
Johnson’s story resonated with Scott. So, as a true Pirate, she seized the opportunity with Johnson.
“He (Johnson) talked about being bold and putting your best foot forward. Then, he got on the topic of internships. I asked if they (BMG) had openings for summer internships. He said yes. I asked if I could give him my resume. He said email it to me.”
“I said … I have it right here.”
Scott then passed her resume to Johnson during the meeting, hoping to land an internship.
At the College of Business, professional development is key to fulfilling its purpose of building leaders. The unique Leadership & Professional Development Curriculum has four classes that prepare students for the realities of the business world. COB leaders work with alumni and industry partners to provide experiential opportunities where students can elevate what they’ve learned in the classroom and bring their knowledge to the business community. A recent (and annual) Fall Networking Event brought together eastern North Carolina alums and business leaders with COB undergraduate and graduate students. Opex Technologies and its CEO and COB alumnus Courtney Humphrey ‘98 recently hosted an entrepreneur and leadership university day where COB graduate and undergraduate students participated in panel discussions with alums, accomplished entrepreneurs and executives from the Raleigh-Durham area.
Travel also plays an important role in professional development, and Sanford Bailey ’64 knows it. Since graduating with his accounting degree, Bailey’s business acumen has led him down the path of several careers. After working at an accounting firm for seven years early in his career, Bailey decided to “make history instead of looking at history.” That history included starting – and selling – numerous banking and financial institutions. He ultimately landed on starting a commercial and residential real estate development company, which keeps him busy daily. However, he’s not so busy that he can’t find time to support ECU and the COB. Baily has spoken at COB events. He provides scholarships and participates in the COB’s business advisory council meetings.
Bailey also believes in the importance of travel in education and its transformative role on a student.
“I think travel … broadens your horizons,” said Bailey, who helped play a major role in making the October New York City trip happen. “It’s the financial capital of the world. You need to be able to visit there and get a taste of … the culture and everything else that goes on in that city.”
“Right as the plane touched down in New York, I felt like I was truly doing some of the right things in life,” said Isaiah Rutledge. Rutledge is an immersive MBA and first-generation student. The trip was Rutledge’s first to New York City. “Being in the city gave me a sense of belonging, and I can truly do anything I want.”
“I hope an experience like this can not only benefit myself in the ways it has but also others around me,” said Rutledge.
Jenna Bacon is a marketing major and plans to graduate with a BSBA in May 2024. She said the New York City trip allowed her to “visit and learn from alumni and experience how much opportunity and real-world prep the College of Business gives us.”
“This fantastic opportunity has taken what we all learn daily in Bate and has shown us real-world applications,” said Bacon. “It has made me explore all the possible opportunities I didn’t even know.”
“I saw firsthand how this travel opportunity affected these students,” said Harris. “When they shared their personal experiences with Sanford, we could see that it produced a significant return on investment.”
Harris added that more travel opportunities will be available next term if all goes to plan.