Q&A with Alumni Association Board President Marianne Rotole, ’95
Marianne Rotole majored in English and minored in history and communications at Hillsdale. She is currently a vice president at Octagon Marketing North America.
HM: Can you briefly describe your post-college career?
MR: When I was at Hillsdale I thought I might go into broadcasting or journalism, and I interned at WCSR, the local radio station. After graduation, I moved to Chicago because of its wealth of media outlets. I got an internship at a sports radio station, but quickly realized that was not where I wanted to be. My Hillsdale speech professor, John Lama, had encouraged me to pursue a career in public relations, and I decided to take a one-year internship with the Chicago Bulls’ Media Services Department—this was during the 1996-97 championship season. I then went to work at a PR firm and later accepted an offer to return to the Bulls full-time. After that I worked for the Chicago Marathon for four years, and in 2010 I joined Octagon, an international sports marketing agency, where I currently manage two West Coast-based accounts—Taco Bell and Kaiser Permanente—with regard to their sports sponsorships, with the goal of driving their sales and building their brands.
HM: How has your Hillsdale background most helped your career?
MR: For one thing, my Hillsdale education helped me to understand human nature. In my field, it’s critical to understand what motivates people. I also value the communication skills I developed. I interview college graduates these days who cannot speak or write well, both of which are essential in marketing. Hillsdale alumni communicate well; they can back up their arguments concisely, which is critical to the business of articulating ideas, selling services, and reporting meaningful results.
HM: You have served for five years on the Alumni Board Career Services Committee. How can alumni help out in this area?
MR: During the spring semester, I and 24 other alumni conducted mock interviews with students on campus. We were able to provide them with valuable feedback concerning communication skills, body language, and handling challenging questions. I invite my fellow alumni to participate in this program, as well as in student mentoring. The sheer number of career options can be overwhelming for students, so it’s important to have a broad base of alumni available to help.
HM: What is the Alumni Board’s goal?
MR: We want to cultivate an active alumni base that cares about and supports its alma mater by donating time, talent, and treasure. We encourage alumni to attend Hillsdale events, whether on campus or off, and in general to keep a strong relationship with the College and help build the alumni network. Alumni can also share their professional knowledge and expertise with students and recent graduates. Whether by helping Career Services or serving as an advisor to a Greek house or campus organization, they can help guide students in the areas of leadership and professional development. And of course we want to encourage a culture of giving back. Every contribution matters, regardless of size, and a strong base of alumni support is essential for the long-term health of the College.
Printed in the Spring 2018 Alumni Magazine