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Alumni Speakers Remind Current Students of Their Own Potential

All it took was a click on a link featured in the School of Business eNewsletter to alumni.

David Myers ’89 and Stephanie Meltzer-Paul ’96 clicked the link, offering to volunteer for the School. And so they each spoke on campus early last fall, describing their varied careers.

Myers, senior vice president of performance initiatives for Avis Budget Group, spoke on “All the Cool Things You Can Do with an IC Finance Degree.” Meltzer-Paul, director of global loyalty marketing for the Starwood Preferred Guest program at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, presented “Power of Direct Marketing.”

Alumni involvement in today’s School is vital, says Meltzer-Paul, because the stories they tell about their careers remind current Ithaca students of their own potential.

“I heard from a few of the students that they did internships at companies where there were Stanford and Harvard students, and that the IC students felt a bit intimidated,” she said about her visit to campus.

“I think it's important they see that graduates from the IC School of Business have been successful in a variety of industries, and that we can hold our own just fine.”

Meltzer-Paul, a marketing major, began her career as a marketing associate at Time Warner and senior marketing manager at Time Inc. She spent three years as director of marketing at American Express before joining Starwood in 2007.

After majoring in finance and business administration at IC, Myers received his MBA from the University of Chicago and spent two years as a senior equity research associate at Kidder Peabody. He then moved into corporate financial analysis at American Airlines.

“Even though I have never had an intention to work in so many different areas, I was able to parlay my great IC finance degree into roles very varied between finance, information technologies, procurement and operations,” Myers said.

He held titles of managing director of finance and accounting, of information technology systems and of maintenance and engineering strategic initiatives at American Airlines before Avis hired him to fix the troubled corporate financial planning and analysis department.

He describes his career as that of a successful change agent.

After reorganizing the FP&A department, Myers became vice president for Global Lean Six Sigma Deployment and then for procurement and Lean Six Sigma. As a senior vice president, he maintains responsibilities for Lean Six Sigma (which measures and improves operational performance by identifying and eliminating defects) and procurement while also redesigning Avis’ strategic planning efforts.

 “I love this, developing strategic planning. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. But there isn’t a day when I don’t use my financial skills,” Myers said.

“No matter what your degree is in and what you think you want to do, keep an open mind because other great opportunities may present themselves at any time in your careers.”  

Meltzer-Paul told students “to try to find jobs in a field that interests them, that they'll be more successful if they work for a company that they have passion for the product.

“So if you love to surf, perhaps find a marketing role at a company that makes surf gear, for example.  I love to travel, so working for a hotel company is a good fit for me. And years ago I worked in publishing, which was also a good fit since I love to read.”

To engage students in her presentation, she offered prizes for correct answers to questions about each Starwood hotel brand.

 When she asked which Starwood hotel brand has a concierge desk called Whenever/Wherever, Krystina Puelo ’12 knew the answer: the W Hotel. Puelo, an integrated media communications major from the Park School of Communications, won a two-night stay at a W Hotel.

Puelo is vice president of marketing for the Women in Business Network, one of the many clubs and organizations that didn’t exist in the School of Business 15 years ago when Meltzer-Paul was on campus.

“The students all have had so many internships since their freshman year, which was also very different than when I went to school,” she said. 

Clicking that link asking for volunteers was a quick decision for Meltzer-Paul.

“I didn't hesitate,” she said. “Over the years I've had various IC students reach out to me informally for career advice or networking, and I thought doing something more official with the College would be more beneficial.”

In addition to his dual major, Myers carried a dual minor in computer science and economics. He became a peer advisor as a junior and served as budget chairman of student government as a junior and senior.

“I enjoyed my time at IC, but was also able to graduate summa cum laude because I was able to take great classes by great professors.”

After moving back to the Northeast from Texas when he joined Avis, he began to think about helping the College. And one day came that eNewsletter with the volunteer link: “It just seemed like it was a perfect chance for me to get back involved with IC, and it turned out to be a great decision.”

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