Justina Samuel ’11, ’12MBA
Senior Client, Finance Associate, Momentum Worldwide
What did Iona College’s SEM Business program and/or faculty mean to you?
The SEM Business program provided the foundation for me to develop into a well-rounded finance professional working in the industry. I came away knowledgeable not only in finance, but also in the other facets of the business – pitches and negotiations, sponsorship management, sports law, and client relations. To say that the faculty are passionate about their work is an understatement – they not only share from their wealth of knowledge and experience, but also access their network to bring industry guest speakers that students can speak with and gain feedback from on course projects.
What was the most beneficial aspect of the program that potential students should know about?
The opportunity to learn from and speak with industry guest speakers in a classroom setting was invaluable. The SEMB panel discussions were a great opportunity for students to learn about what's happening right now in the industry, as well as network with industry professionals.
How did the program help your career?
I got my first graduate internship at Octagon through a connection I made at an SEMB panel discussion, and that internship eventually turned into a full-time role. The knowledge I gained from the SEMB program in terms of understanding the industry business outside of finance (pitches, event management, client relations) set me apart from other candidates when interviewing. Going a step further and applying that knowledge in the finance roles I have held has set me apart and helped advance my career.
What was the most memorable experience in being part of the program?
I entered the MBA program knowing I wanted to work on the financial aspect of the sports and entertainment industry, but the Corporate Event Management and Marketing course with Prof. Meltem Tekeli was where I found my calling for sponsorship budget management. I love a good challenge and that's what each class session was – students had to walk in to that classroom as problem-solvers, ready to think quick and work in teams for on-the-spot simulated negotiations or pitches.
What are you doing now?
As a finance associate at Momentum Worldwide, I manage the agency budget for the American Express sponsorship portfolio, which includes Coachella, the NBA and US Open, to name a few – never a dull moment!