Education Led to Passion to Motivate Others: Whitney Schmucker
(This biographical piece is part of our series to introduce you to the SGA staff.)
After graduating from UC Berkeley, where I studied Marketing, I jumped into my dream job at Grey Advertising in San Francisco. I spent five years planning advertising campaigns for companies like: Adobe, Sandisk, BMW, and University of Phoenix.
After five years, I realized the work I was doing was just one small piece of the puzzle and I found it a constant source of frustration that I was not able to improve the parts of strategy that I felt were weaknesses. I wanted to be in a position to craft the strategy and problem solve to make a product successful, which would require me to expand my occupation from advertising to marketing.
I knew making this career change would be much easier with more education. So sitting in my office with a view of the Bay Bridge, I applied to business school in Paris, France, where I could not only further my education, but do so in an environment where people live consciously and savor the things (and products) around them.
Like most things in my life, I moved quickly. Six months later I was on a transcontinental plane with a very large suitcase (ok, possibly three).
Around the same time I launched into this adventure, I began to experience some serious health issues that forced me to become aware of the quality of our food sources, environmental chemicals, and other man-made byproducts that harm health and the environment. Having been a lifelong athlete, I had always prided myself on my health, knowledge of diet and self care practices, but what I was learning about the effects of man-made pollutants and their effects on health was truly eye opening. The most shocking part was the lack of awareness and education that the general population had about what I now view as life-threatening concerns. For example, the amount of chemicals in our food, personal care products, and in our general environment is something the majority of Americans are completely unaware of.
I continued my environmental growth and education when I moved back to America and began to work in the marketing departments of various Fortune 500 companies, fine-tuning my skills, creating marketing strategies and observing consumer behavior. Happy with my success but unsatisfied with its short lived rewards, my passion for creating true impact became apparent.
It’s one thing to convince someone to make a purchase: buy a t-shirt or computer software. It’s another thing to introduce information to people that inspires them to make a behavior change.
To me, this is the pinnacle of marketing: not selling goods but changing minds.
I made my way to SGA, where I combine my knowledge in environmental issues and social marketing to change minds and change behavior. Now, I strategize ways to eliminate barriers to zero waste, influence recycling behaviors and empower communities to improve water quality. The rewards are not short lived and the impact will incrementally contribute to a better world.