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Jesse Scinto: What to do When Staring at a Blank Screen

At SPS, Jesse…

  • Got an M.S. in Strategic Communication
  • Learned skills he would use at some of the world’s top ad agencies
  • Returned to teach at SPS armed with real-world expertise
  • Developed a systematic approach to communications
  • Took an exciting new career turn as Lecturer in Professional Studies, and Associate Director for Curriculum and Development for Columbia’s Strategic Communication master’s program.

You graduated from SPS and you consult for major companies. How do you apply what you learned?

My own background is in advertising where I worked for big agencies like Ogilvy & Mather. But I think of myself as a persuader. Recently I’ve been focused on presentation consulting, helping executives at major organizations like Coca-Cola and The United Nations Foundation. At a large financial services firm, we’re developing a pitch to showcase their online app and user experience. This includes stakeholder interviews, competitive analysis and developing the ‘big idea’ that differentiates their product. All of this I learned to do while in the Strategic Communications Program.

What’s your mission in designing a communication curriculum?

Our goal is to prepare students for success in this rapidly changing field. Advances in technology and data gathering have had a big impact. In fact, we’ve retooled our curriculum to give students an advantage. Courses like Digital Media and Analytics, Research Methods and Insights help them shape the vast troves of information available on consumer behavior. This enables them to make smart decisions on strategy. 

What can a student expect from the program?

I am leading curriculum development for our seven core courses. We make sure they complement each other while addressing critical student needs. It’s a systematic approach  based on evidence, linked to business objectives and guided by strategy. Students learn everything from analyzing audiences to persuading them…pitching new business and handling difficult interpersonal communication. At its core, the program equips students to know what to do first when faced with a new assignment and a blank screen.

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