Excerpt from DEI Executive Chat with James Cuthbert ’09S (MBA)

Back in October, we had the privilege to host an executive chat with James Cuthbert, a 2009 MBA graduate of Simon Business School. James is an award-winning marketing professional and youth advocate with over 15 years of experience, including four global CPG companies (Red Bull North America, The Coca-Cola Company, Kellogg’s, and General Mills), two non-profit organizations (KIPP Philadelphia Charter Schools and The Center for Youth Services), and BET, where he is currently the senior vice president of brand and marketing strategy. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Pennsylvania State University and went on to earn an MBA from the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School. In 2017 and 2018, he was named a “40 Under 40 Brand Marketer” by Brand Innovators (the largest network of brand marketers in the United States).

James chatted with Rebekah Lewin, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid, for nearly an hour as prospective students, current students, and Simon faculty and staff listened in to learn about his professional path and hear examples of the ways diversity, equity, and inclusion have impacted his career. In reflecting on his career, he gave the following advice to prospective and current students—advice that guides him as he navigates new professional opportunities:

Black and white portrait of James Cuthbert.

I went through this process several years ago, early on in my career while I was at Simon, and I was like, “what really moves me?”  So I asked myself three questions. To me, these are kind of like the pillar questions you could ask yourself if you’re trying to figure out what is your purpose, what are you meant to do, what should you be striving for? 

The first question is “what do I love?” What are the things that get you up, that get you excited?  What would you be doing if you weren’t getting paid? That’s that first bucket. The second bucket is “what do you have experience in?” What have you been doing with your time? What would you spend 10,000 hours doing? And the last bucket is, “what are your God-given talents?” What are those things that you’re naturally good at? In that intersection of what you are good at, what you have experience in, and what you’re passionate about or what you love, forms the triangle about where you should go. 

When I went through this process, I landed on three pillars that I think describe my personal brand—who I am. The first one is this idea of brands or brand strategy. The second piece that kind of makes me up is this idea of culture—specifically for me, youth culture or hip hop culture—which is really global popular culture. The last piece is community advocacy. This idea of really reaching back, of not forgetting not just where you came from but that there’s somebody else that needs a helping hand. So if you add these buckets together you have brands, you have culture, and you have cause.

If you’re looking for more events that will inspire you as you prepare for your career, we encourage you to keep an eye on our Simon Virtual Events page. We hope to “see” you soon!

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