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Real Humans of Johnson & Johnson: Joe Velli, NYU Stern ‘19, Associate Brand Manager, Listerine

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Switching careers can be a challenging endeavor, but an MBA can help make the transition more seamless and open new doors at the same time.  In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, we hear from Joe Velli, NYU Stern MBA ‘19, on how his MBA helped him pivot from financial services toward a general management opportunity to further his professional aspirations.

During his business school experience, Joe Velli had the opportunity to intern at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health for several months on a small brand the company had acquired a few years prior. He enjoyed the company’s purpose, culture, and development opportunities so much that he accepted his full-time offer on the spot. 

Read on to see how this NYU Stern alumnus successfully transitioned into a new career to achieve his goal of working for a company devoted to helping people live better.

Joe Velli
Joe Velli, NYU Stern ‘19, Associate Brand Manager, Listerine

Joe Velli, NYU Stern ‘19, Associate Brand Manager, Listerine at Johnson & Johnson

Age: 29
Hometown: Allendale, NJ
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Bucknell University: Business Management
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: NYU University, Stern School of Business Class of 2019: Marketing & Strategy
Pre-MBA Work Experience: 4 years, finance and operations 

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I was seeking to switch industries toward a general management opportunity. I wanted to collaborate with cross-functional partners to create physical products that would help consumers live better, healthier lives. Transitioning careers can be very challenging, and I found that an MBA is an excellent way to make the change as seamless as possible.

Why NYU Stern? Which factors influenced your decision?
I chose NYU Stern for three reasons: 

  1. Employment Opportunities – I was interested in working for a big CPG company on the East Coast, and Stern has strong partnerships with many of these companies. 
  2. Networking – The Graduate Marketing Association at Stern is large and full of like-minded students that I could learn from. 
  3. Academics – Stern has excellent programs tailored specifically for people interested in marketing and strategy work.

What was your internship during business school?  How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?  
I interned at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health on a small brand the company had acquired a few years prior. In seeking an internship, I took a forward-looking approach and tried to find the perfect CPG company to work for post-graduation. I evaluated companies based on three aspects:

  1. Purpose – My number one guiding principal was to work for a company that was focused on helping people live better, healthier lives. 
  2. Culture – In my second career, I wanted to work at companies that have a strong culture and offer true work/life balance.  
  3. Training & Development – Since I was transitioning careers, I wanted to find a company that provides an excellent training curriculum and the opportunity to complete several distinct roles as an associate brand manager within the first few years of graduation. 

Why did you choose to work for your current company? Which factors influenced your decision?
I chose my internship company based on its purpose, culture, and development opportunities, and while spending my summer at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, I was surprised to learn that the company not only exceeded my expectations on all these points, but offered so much more. As an intern, I was given real responsibility and left a lasting impact, I expanded my network rapidly and gained more senior leader exposure than I could have imagined, and I found that every person I worked with at the company, from entry level roles to leadership positions, truly cared about our consumers and always sought to do right by them. I wouldn’t usually recommend students do this, but I was so thrilled when I was received my full-time offer over the phone that I immediately accepted on the spot!

How did your MBA experience prepare you for your current career?
Pivoting industries can be extremely difficult, and my Stern MBA was a necessary step toward my current career. I had the opportunity to learn from top professors across multiple subject areas, while also gaining first-hand industry knowledge from my classmates and potential employers. Stern also offers various hands-on projects and programs that helped me gain a better understanding of what a day in the life of a marketer really looks like.

How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
COVID-19 has had dramatic effects on the marketing industry. Consumer product attribute preferences have changed in unanticipated ways, while path-to-purchase journeys have rapidly advanced toward digital/online more quickly than previously expected. This is a very interesting time to be a marketer, and I’ve gained more exposure to digital/online opportunities as our company seeks to reach consumers in new ways.

What advice would you give to a current MBA student?
I would give a current MBA student three pieces of advice to get the most out of their program. First, there are so many great employers recruiting at MBA schools, so before you begin recruiting, take an introspective look at yourself. Determine what the top attributes of an employer/career are to help narrow down the list so you can focus on opportunities that align with your goals. Second, recruiting can be challenging since there is a lot of information flying at you from all directions. Do your best to stay organized and build a system so you can stay on top of all your priorities. And last, enjoy the experience. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from your very knowledgeable community. Take advantage of all your school has to offer and say “Yes” to new experiences!

Learn about more business school alumni like Joe Velli by exploring our Real Humans: Alumni series.

To see what current students from NYU Stern are up to, visit their Real Humans: Students profiles.

Maggie Fedorocsko
Maggie Fedorocsko is a freelance writer and editor who recently graduated from Drexel University. When she’s not wordsmithing, she enjoys reading, hiking, camping, cooking, and buying far too many antiques and plants for her quaint Philadelphia apartment.