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Kelly O’Neil ’11MBA

Athletic Director, Oak Knoll School of Holy Child

Kelly O’Neil

What did Iona College’s SEM Business program and/or faculty mean to you?
I graduated from Iona College with a Master of Business Administration, Marketing Concentration and the Sports and Entertainment Management Advanced Certificate in 2011. My time in Iona’s SEMB program afforded me an opportunity to examine the business side of sports in greater depth. The program itself is designed in such a way that facilitates active learning along various topics that are valuable for anyone to understand who is pursuing a sports and/or entertainment career.

Taking classes taught by industry professionals with years of experience proved to strengthen my overall understanding of the marketing world, setting me up for success working in collegiate athletics. The real-world experience of the faculty allows students to tap into what’s actually going on in the industry they hope to work in.

What was the most beneficial aspect of the program that potential students should know about?
The most beneficial aspect of the SEMB program was the personal attention the professors provided. I always found my emails answered, regardless of the day of the week or hour in which I sent them. The professors truly cared about their teaching and our learning. I also found the group projects to be both challenging and extremely rewarding, as they related to the real world of working in sports both for and with many different people. The small class sizes allow students to create personal relationships and engaging dialogue with classmates, faculty, and administration, which in turn allows for true learning to take place.

How did the program help your career?
The SEMB program provided me a strong foundation of working in sports and entertainment while I was in the early stages of my career. The SEM program exposed me to new opportunities and ways of thinking in the world of sports and business. My career would not be where it is today without this foundational knowledge and remarkable relationships.

What was the most memorable experience in being part of the program?
In one of the final classes of my MBA I remember taking Professor Horine’s class. He brought in Renie Anderson, a very high executive at the NFL at the time and now senior vice president of sponsorship and partnership management at the NFL. We were tasked with developing a partnership plan between the New York Giants or Jets and Dunkin’ Donuts. While I do not remember all the details of the assignment, I remember how willing Renie was to provide guidance, answer emails, and actually attend our classes and final presentation. Reflecting on it now, the SEMB program was providing us access to top industry professionals, and I know Professor Horine has continued to enhance this aspect of the program.   

What are you doing now?
After working in various roles within collegiate athletics, I just began a new position as athletic director at Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, N.J. This private, Catholic K-12 school offers athletic programs for 5-12 graders. My role as AD provides me the opportunity to work in the sports world while also blending my passions for academics and leadership.