M.B.A. Alumna Leads Development, Branded Entertainment as VP for Spectrum Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Meet Samantha Morris
Job title: Vice President of Development, Branded Entertainment
Degrees earned: M.B.A. with a concentration in management, Point Park University, 2012; and B.S.B.A. in marketing, University of Pittsburgh, 2005
Hometown: Clarks Summit, Pa.
High school: Abington Heights High School
Now living in: Tampa, Fla.
Hobbies/interests: Travel, photography and continuously attempting to re-capture my former tennis glory!
LinkedIn: Samantha Morris
-- Guy Nickerson, CEO and Executive Producer, Spectrum
"I was able to work and go to school, surrounded by an incredible array of professors - many who themselves work in top leadership positions."
-- Samantha Morris
How did you become Spectrum's VP of Development, Branded Entertainment?
I began my journey at Spectrum five years ago, in which I relocated to Tampa from Pittsburgh (it's a long story, but it involves a misguided suitcase to Brazil). I was struck by the company's philosophy and unique business model, it was as if I was reading a story I had written myself. Spectrum was different; not a traditional ad agency and not a production company — but a forward-thinking content studio with an incredible portfolio of work. Smart, strategic — and it straddled several different genres including television, branded content and marketing. I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of it.
My initial role with the company started as the account lead in which I oversaw all clients and grew the creative division with the development of multimedia strategies and content for partners such as Marriott, Disney and Herschend Family Entertainment. As my work, goals and the industry itself began to evolve, I then transitioned to my current role as vice president of development, branded entertainment.
Now, I lead the development of new branded entertainment strategies for the company, collaborating with Spectrum's multidisciplinary team to partner with new clients and identify, develop and execute concepts across platforms - marrying talent, original content and brand messaging.
Why did you choose Point Park University for graduate school?
Interestingly, my graduate school search happened not once, but twice. The first time I began considering earning an M.B.A. was directly after my graduation from the University of Pittsburgh, with the immediate goals of furthering my studies and continuing to sharpen my career focus. As part, I was considering several multi-year programs which would have required a full-time commitment — daunting both in terms of time and financial investment.
After making the decision to instead enter the workforce and garner additional experience before starting an M.B.A. program, my secondary search for the right school was truthfully, effortless. I had an immediate connection with not only Point Park's values, but a program that backed up those values.
The M.B.A. program at Point Park is built around an understanding of the modern workforce - which, after years of my own experience at one of Pittsburgh's top advertising agencies, was exactly the program I was looking for. I was able to work and go to school, surrounded by an incredible array of professors — many who themselves work in top leadership positions. The takeaways were never just about theory but true real-world application in an immersive environment where I was able to bounce ideas off of a diverse (and fantastic) group of other professionals.
How have your M.B.A. classes helped you professionally?
Working in the creative industry has always been my passion - understanding diverse businesses, consumer behavior, developing strategies and working with creative teams on executing solutions that meet (and exceed) goals. But the broader marketing viewpoint - the global insight - is what I learned in my M.B.A. classes.
With the tools I gained, I'm now able to see the greater perspective of how each client (and project) fits within the larger organizational universe and industry as a whole. Successful marketing requires a thoughtful understanding of the entire eco-system, as well as an innate curiosity to continuously discover and innovate as new trends evolve - all skills I was able to polish through my M.B.A. program.
Beyond greater perspective, I also learned an incredible amount about management that I apply every day, not just externally, but internally as well. Understanding how to work with diverse teams and problem solve is a huge part of what makes our process smooth and our clients successful. And now as a member of the leadership team, I support development of new business which leverages each and every one of the aforementioned skills to not only provide innovative solutions to our existing clients, but help build new relationships as well.
What career advice do you have for our M.B.A. students pursuing VP-level positions?
The immediate benefits of an M.B.A. are easy to see - a vastly sharpened understanding of the fundamentals, an eye opening as to the larger impact of doing modern-day business and let's not forget about the networking! This broad knowledge base provided me with an incredible amount of perspective as I brought those skills back to the workplace - which in turn, assisted me in my goals of achieving a leadership position.
My advice is to keep reading, keep learning and keep integrating what you've learned throughout your M.B.A. studies each and every day you walk into the office.
If you find yourself considering an M.B.A. like I was, I'll be the first to push you over the edge. It will not only drive you forward in the short term, but truly for your entire professional lifetime. It changes your perspective, and provides a true transformation. For me the goal wasn't to learn all the answers, the goal was to learn the tools to help me figure out the answers — and let me tell you, there have been many!
It was a moment I completely refocused, and developed habits such as constantly immersing myself in industry news that I still do to this day. Oh, and not to mention the great contacts and friends I made along the way (forget happy hours, we now read each other's business plans on the weekends).
In the end, getting an M.B.A. is all about elevating both professionally and personally. It's helped me elevate my knowledge, elevate the solutions I can provide to my clients and most importantly, elevate the growth of my incredible company. Long and short, take the chance — it will be the best decision you ever made.