A Liberal Arts Resume: By Gerry Boyle '78, Illustrations by Leo Pando

 

Colby Magazine: Winter 2003

So did Joe Bergera '86, who majored in government and was passionate in his Colby years about economic development. He went on to earn both an M.B.A. and a master's degree in public policy at the University of Chicago, but his career has been all private sector.

Last spring Bergera was named vice president of worldwide marketing for InfoVista, a company that provides service-management software to companies that include Cingular, British Telecom, Nestlé, Shell and Banque de France, among many others. A press release announcing Bergera's appointment said he would be "responsible for the company's global marketing program, including strategic marketing, product marketing, channel marketing, marketing communications, direct marketing and electronic marketing." His résumé includes stints at Astrolink, a broadband telecommunications firm, and at MicroStrategy, Inc., where he directed a new global marketing program that helped the company's revenues jump 50 percent.

And Cal Mackenzie (The Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of American Government) helped prepare Bergera for this?

Most certainly, Bergera says from the company's sleekly modern U.S. offices near Washington's Dulles International Airport. His undergraduate education prepared him for a career spent tackling problems that don't appear in any text and for which there often is no precise precedent. "Almost all of the things we struggle with are brand-new challenges," Bergera said of his work on tech-biz frontiers. And with his liberal arts background, he isn't the exception. Bergera says many peers with straight finance or engineering backgrounds have an early advantage, but those with liberal arts degrees tend to rise quickly once they reach the level where their work becomes more conceptual and requires them to "look across functions."

That big-picture perspective comes from knowledge drawn from different academic areas, from hard science to anthropology, geography to literature. "People with a liberal arts degree who make it to the next level--after five or ten years in an organization, you are starting to see that they tend to come up with the most innovative ideas and provide the leadership," Bergera said. "The people who succeed tend to succeed in a really big way."

Leslie Kaplan '81 did that, carving out a career in advertising that included management positions at the renowned agencies Oglivy & Mather and Hill Holliday, where she was executive vice president--and at that time the only woman at the executive vice president level at the company.

Kaplan, who recently moved to the Boston office of the VIA Group, a smaller independent firm, attributes her success to hard work and communication skills, honed at least partly in the small and intensely interactive community on Mayflower Hill. "You're selling people and talent" as an advertising executive, she said. "You're not selling widgets. Having the ability to communicate with different types of people and having exposure to a lot of different subjects. And following it all with common sense. The more you understand people, the better off you are."

 

 

 

   
   


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      © Colby College   Colby Magazine Winter 2003   mag@colby.edu