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2015 VPP Feedback

Quotes from 2015 VPP Participating Professors, Host Companies and
Career Services Administrators



Professor Jenna Drenten, Loyola University Chicago: “I think I was expecting a “job shadow” like experience in which I may sit in on meetings or observe the agency world in action.  My VPP experience was much more rooted in one-on-one conversations with agency employees across various departments.  Therefore, I was happy to have the two-day orientation in order to help generate and refine interesting and meaningful questions to ask during each conversation.  The orientation provided a foundational knowledge and provided a point of comparison across agencies.  I really enjoyed the orientation agencies!

“The VPP has given me more confidence in my expertise and ability to teach the next generation of advertising industry professionals.  I left New York with an entire notebook filled with new contacts, case study examples for class, and research questions to pursue in the future.  The only downfall of the AEF Visiting Professor Program is that I can’t do it every single year!”

“Overall, this was an incredible learning opportunity!  I would do it again in a heartbeat, and I am already envious of the future VPP participants. The AEF staff and board members were all so welcoming and informative, which made the experience that much more enjoyable.  I look forward to continuing to work with the AEF in the future!”

Deborah Broda, Account Director: “This year’s visiting professor, Jenna Drenten, was a delight to host! She came prepared to ask questions, gathered insights, experienced the workings of an ad agency and actually conducted research while she was here on social media. She was an excellent fit as she is very interested in social media and consumer insights—two areas that DDB is strong in. Overall, I feel the AEF VPP is a worthwhile program. Jenna left here feeling like she had gained valuable insights, knowledge and made a number of contacts that she will be reaching out to again.”

Energy BBDO

Professor Sydney Dillard, DePaul University:  “During my professorship I visited every major department of the agency.  I met with someone from research and development, production and editing, account planning, account management, creative, global acquisitions, and even the CEO.  I never expected the CEO to talk to me so openly about some of the challenges she faces as well as her struggles with work-life balance.  It was a wonderful experience.

“Much of my perception was the same prior to attending and after completing the program. More than anything, I felt that my attitudes and believes were strengthened, giving a boost of confidence in the subject matter that I provide for my students.”
“I hope to utilize both the information learned in the meetings with the agency representatives and future focus groups, in order to design better learning modules for student, particularly in advertising ethics courses.”

Ashley Sawatzke, Account Supervisor:  “Sydney fit in extremely well with the company. Everyone who met with her commented on her enthusiasm and perspective she brought to the discussions. It was great to host her!”


Professor Glynnis Johnson, Bethune-Cookman University:  “The meetings with HR representatives where they discussed what qualities their respective agencies look for in student/entry level hires were the most beneficial. My host agency meeting and tour opportunities provided me with an understanding of how a worldwide agency operates.”

Maria Gallione, Account Management Development Director:  “Glynnis’ agenda was designed to be a learning experience.  In addition to shadowing the Smuckers team, she met with the following departments:  Corporate Communications, New Business, Strategy, Marketing & Analytics, Music, Production and Shopper Marketing.  Glynnis also sat in on a half-day presentation from the Grey Masters students.  Grey Masters is a program for Grey’s up and coming talent where they are given a client brief and asked to solve a real-world marketing challenge using the agency’s proprietary tools.  It’s a great overview of the creative development process Grey goes through with our clients.”


Professor Robert Harrison, Western Michigan University:  “I was able to meet with most everyone on consumer insights team to gain valuable understanding about what they do and who they do it. Also, they provide invaluable insights about what they expect from incoming college student employees and what I can do to prepare the students for a career on the consumer insights teams. As a side, I was able to record a meeting with the global insights director and I have to say that the conversation was so good that I plan on converting that conversation into a lecture for me class this spring. His discussions about the changing nature of marketing as it relates to social media and content marketing blew me away.”

HAVAS evaluation form was not returned.


Professor Elyria Kemp, University of New Orleans: “I am very pleased that I was placed on the client side.  Garnering this perspective was particularly useful for me since I teach Strategic Marketing Management courses on the MBA level.  It gave me further insight into how an organization strategically approaches its branding and advertising initiatives.  At the same time, I was able to learn more about agency work.  I met with individuals at Ogilvy & Mather that are responsible for account management, strategy, planning, media and creative for the IBM brand.
“This opportunity has really given me up-to-date insight, which I will be incorporating in my teaching and classroom discussions.  The advertising and marketing field is so dynamic and I learned about new developments with digital media, which I can go back and share with my students.  I can also go back and share some of my experiences with Watson in my health care marketing classes.  Finally, as far as my research is concerned, I am exploring further opportunities to broaden my emotions research into a business-to-business context.  I have also gained additional insight on how I would like to approach other areas of research I am pursuing with respect to customer engagement and advocacy.”

Sara Sindelar, Brand Systems and Advertising Professional: ”Elyria Kemp was a great fit for IBM. Since she teaches on healthcare marketing and IBM has a big initiative on Watson Healthcare I think she was able to take the back to her classroom and was already familiar with a lot of work IBM has done. She seemed to have done a lot of research on the company and the brand prior to joining us which allowed her to come with a lot of questions to be answered.
“It seemed a lot of her conversations sparked possible research for her to work on in the future and taught her things to bring back to the classroom to keep her more current with the industry. If she does work on research that aligns to B2B conversations we would love to hear from her and learn about that work.”

J. Walter Thompson Atlanta

Professor Deborah Gerthardt, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill:  “I had many interview-style conversations with individuals and teams so that I could learn how each unit contributed to JWT’s creative work.  I spoke with people specializing in Human Resources, Creative, Strategy and Planning, Business Development, PR and Communications, Digital Media and Production.
“I gained a whole new understanding of the industry through my fellowship.  I now see that advertising agencies are partners with their clients and work together to create strategies that help brand owners connect with their communities in meaningful ways.  I learned that this work involves as much listening as creating.  It incorporates this amazing mix of art, math, branding and psychology.  I now see that an excellent ad agency can help an organization understand its strengths and communicate its place in the world so that it can write a meaningful narrative that connects it with consumers. Good advertising, I now see, is not only about setting up a megaphone and getting attention.  It involves many different types of research and genuine engagement. And I did not appreciate the extent to which the field involves immediate responsiveness and constant attention to current events.  It has now been several months since my fellowship ended, and we are deep into the fall semester.  There is not a single day where I do not benefit from all I learned at JWT.”

Ann McClintock, Senior Director, Human Resources:   “She was an excellent fit- very interested in all aspects of the advertising agency world, very engaging with employees and really had an interest in learning as much as possible so she could take it back to her classroom and educate her students.”

J. Walter Thompson NYC

Professor Kristin Comeforo, University of Harford:  “What impressed me most about the industry, as exemplified through the agencies, was the level of collaboration across the agency areas (i.e.: producers, creatives, account management).  The buzzwords “ideas from everywhere” were not just words, but rang true.  Another thing I was impressed by was the amount of research that goes in to each brief, etc.… While this was not necessarily surprising, it was exciting to see the research in action, and observe how research leads to insights, which come alive in messaging.

“My experience through the VPP will immediately impact my teaching.  I was given a lot of material (i.e.: creative briefs, onboarding and competitive review decks) that I am able to share with students.  Also, I am teaching our Advertising Competition class starting in the fall, which requires students to create an integrated marketing communication campaign for a REAL client, through the American Advertising Federation (AAF).  The class is part of the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC).  Everything I learned at J. Walter Thompson – from research to idea generation to execution – will be directly applied in this class.  I also picked up on industry jargon that my students can use in their presentation, which will impress the industry judges.  I am confident that our team will do well, and owe much of this confidence to my VPP experience.”

Carly Wengrover, Public Relations Manager: “Kristin was a great fit for J. Walter Thompson New York. Her eagerness to learn about the agency, as well as her willingness to do anything and be flexible when necessary, made working with her easy. Kristin is also very friendly and fun, and in turn, got along well with the teams she was placed with, and fit with the general J. Walter Thompson culture.   Kristin attended an offsite strategic session with one of the clients at the onset of her fellowship with J. Walter Thompson. She was invited to be part of the brainstorming session and provided input. 

“Kristin asked for a holistic reboot of the agency experience, so we did just that. We scheduled her time at the agency in such a way that she was able to shadow a number of different departments in order to gain an understanding of how projects are brought to life. Our colleagues were very helpful and wanted to ensure that Kristin was kept as busy as possible. They also wanted to make sure Kristin was placed with them during times that would be the most useful and interesting for her, including brainstorms with clients, briefing sessions, etc.”

Lapiz/Leo Burnett

Professor Monique Bell, University of California, Fresno:  “Overall, the AEF’s Visiting Professor Program provided me a rich and unique opportunity to engage with a well-recognized agency and its approach to creative strategy. My agency liaison, Diego Figueroa, a senior strategist, orchestrated a meaningful experience that will enhance the depth of my teaching in the Integrated Marketing Communications course this fall.

“Prior to visiting with the agency, I had a realistic perspective of the advertising industry thanks to my work as marketing manager on the client side. However, my perceptions and experiences were dated since I have been working in academia for nearly eight years. I lacked familiarity with how social media, digital marketing, data and technology were influencing agencies’ work, interaction with clients and effectiveness. After my visit, I have gained a view of the contemporary challenges agencies face as well as the tools that are available.”

Diego Figueroa, SVP Director of Strategy:  “Professor Monique Bell was a perfect fit for a company like Lapiz / Leo Burnett. Her area of expertise, current interests and academic field made her a great collaborative partner for Lapiz. Her attitude and knowledge were greatly received and her constant interest to keep learning was great motivators for everyone who interacted with her during the program.

“Professor Bell had a great contribution to the Lapiz team. With constant interactions with some strategy team members she provided a great deal of insight and valuable information on research methodologies as well as solid points of view on diversity, inclusion and multiculturalism.”


Professor Colin Campbell, Kent State University:  “This experience was very helpful for both my teaching and research. For teaching, it was incredibly useful to find out which parts of what we teach mirror what goes on in “the real world”. This included things such as strategy, which I was surprised (happily) to see is taken so seriously at an agency. Learning industry terms and employee roles was very useful. I am actually planning to revise my projects and assignments to better mirror the process and stages I observed. In terms of research, I found it very useful to get perspectives from so many different people on the issues and challenges they are facing on a daily basis, and what areas they feel are most in need of better understanding.”

Keisha Kellman, HR Operations Manager:  “Colin totally added value during the time he was at McCann. He was able to educate us on the direction that advertising online with a focus on regulation is going, especially with his Native Advertising talk. Colin had an opportunity to meet with leadership from Account Management, Strategy, Integrated Production, Creative, Social, Business Affairs, Project Management, Craft Global Production and our executive office, and meeting our agency’s president. Colin was able to take what he learned from each leader as well as observing the Social team and apply it to his fall lesson plans with his students. This was feedback he gave me during our Exit Chat on his last day.”

Ogilvy & Mather Chicago

Professor Michael Devlin, DePaul University:  “As someone who teaches creative, I was able to get a better sense how planning and creative can and should work together.  This outlet not only influences my teaching, but will also influence the way I advise students.  Seeing what planners do day-to-day, how they operate in the organization, and what skills are required will enable me to guide students interesting in advertising, but may lack interest or the necessary skills for the creative department.  From this experience, I can emulate a strategic process beginning with research and insights and ending with creative storytelling. 

“Following my Lunchtime Talk, I was asked to meet with several executives who wanted to learn more about my research. This relationship has extended past our two weeks together, and I have been asked to come back and share more insights and follow-up during the summer months. I believe this experience was reflective of one of AEF’s primary missions – bridging the gap between academia and industry.”

Ogilvy & Mather Chicago evaluation form was not returned.

Ogilvy & Mather New York City

Professor Kenneth Bates, University of San Diego:  “I have a new language to share with students.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how much of what I teach is relevant to how account planning is done, but my teachings are really based on my own ideas and the limited consulting work I have done.  So, now I have vocabulary to attach to the concepts I share.  Additionally, I have a new appreciation for the subtleties of interactions.  I spent a lot of time just observing people and listening to conversations.  I learned a lot about culture and communication that I will be able to share.  It will not necessarily go into some lesson plan or lecture, but I feel confident that I can address student questions with an informed response when they ask about agency life.”

Alison Demos, Senior Partner:  ”Kenny met with planners who worked on Holiday Inn, Pitney Bowes, and a couple of other clients as well. Each was at a different phase of strategic development, so he was able to see how teams develop research priorities or – alternatively - make use of existing research and insights to deliver better work.  Kenny’s talk was called, “Consuming Immortality: The role of brands in strengthening consumer worldviews” and it was quite interesting. It was about how reminders of mortality strengthen people’s existing value systems, including affection for brands that they affiliate with. It was a well-attended talk and people asked good questions.”

The Richards Group

Professor Wendy Macias, Texas Christian University:  “For me the change was not in the actual perceptions but where they came from. Never having worked in the industry directly, my perceptions before came from indirect observations (news, textbooks and actual ads). The VPP gave me more direct experience that confirmed that my indirect views were on track. I attained confirmation that I really do get the industry which increases my confidence in educating my students.

“[The VPP program] it has given me added confidence and more specific examples of how things are done in industry. At this point, I see the impact being greater for my teaching and advising of students but research may be impacted as well.”

The Richards Group evaluation form was not returned.

Young & Rubicam

Professor Elizabeth Miller, University of Massachusetts: “I had very little knowledge about the industry prior to participating in the program and now have a much greater understanding of different roles (account management, planning, production) and skills/ personality characteristics that make one well-suited for these roles.  I also gained a greater appreciation of all the legal aspects and intricacies that impact the production process.  So, with respect to the question of whether my “before” and “after” perceptions of the industry differed, I would say I have a much greater understanding, appreciation, and admiration for those in the industry.

“I can already see the program improving my teaching and advising.  For example, when reading something from a doctoral student recently, something felt like it was missing – I realized that the student was providing the facts, but not telling a story.  I was able to describe this issue (and solutions) using what I had learned from talking to a planner about how they translate their research into a campaign strategy / message.  I have also recently been working with our undergraduate student advertising agency pursuing new work with a new client.  In discussing the budget, I was able to raise issues related to licensing artwork for use in the creative – an issue I would not have considered prior to my conversation with a print production person at Y&R.  Similarly, my whole experience at Y&R gave me much greater insight in terms of how to formulate and communicate our proposal.  When the new semester starts in September, I expect that I will also use the knowledge gained from my experiences in my classes, and will direct students towards the resources I learned about.  I will also encourage students to apply for jobs and internships in the industry (and will be able to give them better advice about how to do so).”

Whitney Goodman, Account Director:  “Elizabeth Miller was a good fit for the agency in that her research in nutrition was very relevant to many of our consumer accounts (food and healthcare). She was able to spend time with many of our departments (account management, planning, production, human resources, new business) and many of our accounts, learning many of the agency processes and getting to observe presentations and meetings. She had access to senior leaders at the agency and asked a lot of questions.”

Career Services Administrators

Kim Crabbe, Executive Director, Skidmore College:  “The visits to the agencies were a unique opportunity for me to get an inside view into the similarities and overwhelming differences within agencies.  The culture, strategy, services, and working conditions are critical characteristics to share with students who are interested in following this path and making decisions about where they want to work.  Not only will I be able to more accurately describe a career in advertising, I will also be able to share the differences among agencies. This will benefit my staff, as well as the students I meet with.

“I am thrilled to have contacts in these agencies, people who I can refer to for questions and advice when working with students.  In addition, it is great to be able to connect with the Skidmore alumni who are currently working at these agencies (there are a total of 8) to let them know I visited their company and perhaps create a new Skidmore pipeline into that agency.  I plan to follow up with each agency we met with to create an ongoing dialog.  Of course, I plan to work with Sharon and AEF concerning the Inside Advertising Speakers Program.  As I mentioned in my application essay, I am designing a new PDI (Professional Development Intensive) in Advertising.  This experience, along with the contacts I made, helps connect me to the industry so I can better plan, organize, and deliver a great new program for our students.”
“There isn’t always the opportunity for staff to work with faculty on the same level playing field, particularly in a liberal arts environment.  I was very interested to learn about their work and research and appreciated their perspectives on the agencies.  I made a few good contacts among the professors that I intend to maintain.”

Kathleen Mannheimer, Sr. Associate Director, Counseling & Programming, Princeton:
“I am extremely appreciative of the opportunity to participate in the AEF VPP, having had a genuine interest in advertising before the program. I found that this program enriched my understanding of the industry, especially with the insights into the different cultures and emphases of the organizations, and the “deep-dive” strengthened my ability to share relevant information with students at Princeton who have an interest in advertising and lack of knowledge about the industry.  Having the faculty participate with us was an informative influence since their focus was so different from ours.  We had an eager and intentional interest in how to get our students recruited, and their interest was in creative content to inform their teaching. “

Susan Smith, Vassar College:  “Although I’ve never seen an episode of “Mad Men”, I think my perception of the industry was pretty typical (they sit around and create ads to persuade people to buy things and it’s a top down culture). Now that I’ve visited four different agencies, I have a better sense of the culture. The end goal is still the same, but the jobs have changed to fit the times. From my observations at each firm, they appear to be hiring from a young, hip talent pool. It was very helpful to hear from the recruiters about how they hire!”

Tim Mosehauser, Associate Director, Career and Professional Development, Middlebury College:  “One pre-conceived notion I had was that the advertising world broke down between creatives and non-creatives.  At each agency at least one person brought this issue up, and whether they called it a ‘hot house’ intensive or something else, I came away noticing that agencies are changing.  This is one thing I will share with students.  Whether they are a student studying film or English and want to apply their creative ability or a student who really cares about a certain type of brand, there are lots of opportunities.  One of my favorite quotes came from RGA:  “we operate at the speed of culture”.  I can see students really resonating with the type of culture where they are really making a difference in a fast paced, energetic, hip and modern environment.

“As a career professional, one of the best parts was hearing from the HR staff about their internship program and hiring process.  It was reaffirming to hear their emphasis on LinkedIn, something I talk a lot about with students.  I was excited to hear them talk about wanting characteristics in applicants like curiosity and perseverance.  I know my students in the liberal arts have an up-hill battle to compete against students coming from portfolio schools, but I know they are talented and it was great to get some inside information and start to make connections.”







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