Mentoring Top Talent
When Lee S. Hillman, '79 started his career at Bally Total Fitness in 1991, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy with $2 billion in debt. As CFO, and later CEO, he successfully turned the company around, driving revenue and growth by relying on strategic marketing and sales. Recognizing that his corporate success was a direct result of his education, he has been an active supporter of the Kilts Center and currently serves as a mentor for class of 2013 marketing fellow Andrea Govier.
Marketing is everywhere. It's not just in the grocery store or Target or Walmart. It's pervasive, in everything that we do within business, in almost all aspects of our commercial society, and even in our government. In fact, if you don't focus on marketing, you're going to be left behind.
I've had a lot of experience with private equity groups and investment banks that are full of people with finance and accounting backgrounds. They can read a financial statement; but, if they don't understand what it means to drive the revenue line, whether that's through better marketing or better sales planning, then they won't know how to make the cash register ring. Having the ability to collect and process data, to ask the hard questions, to get real answers that drive business and revenue, that's where I think Booth excels.
Building a premiere marketing school with the Chicago approach
When Jim Kilts first came to me with the opportunity to get involved in the Kilts Center, I was enthusiastic to jump onboard. I wanted to give back to the school that equipped me with the skills to thrive, while opening new opportunities for the next generation. We talked about what his vision for the marketing fellowships program was - emphasizing the importance of marketing and how it relates to overall management of the business enterprise - and I found we had similar ideas and interests.
Coming out of Booth with a focus in finance and accounting and finding myself a CEO of Bally Total Fitness, a large location-based health club business, I was fascinated with marketing and how it could drive revenue.
A supportive and diverse marketing community
For me, the most rewarding part of a mentorship is the personal interaction. I've met some fantastic students, and I hope my being a resource to them has provided them a service that has made their life a little better and accelerated their track toward their goals. That's really the number one thing—giving back and the feeling of simply helping another person.
I am currently mentoring Andrea Govier, who is my third mentee. I've mentored students from Japan and Canada, and now Andrea, who is my first American mentee. I still stay in touch with each of them, and it's great to see people develop through their careers and see them accrue the resources and the credentials they need to be able to progress, even in difficult times.