From the booth of WPNR to the halls of Pandora

Pandora - Mark Pilipczuk 88

Mark Pilipczuk ‘88 has always loved music.

It’s a Sunday night in 1985. The radio is tuned to Utica College’s WPNR and the sounds of reggae are putting you at ease. Behind the mic spinning these beats is freshman Mark Pilipczuk ‘88, putting his love of music out there for the world to share in, and at the same time, helping him gain a little confidence in himself.

“I was a very shy person,” Pilipczuk explains. “I couldn’t speak to people and thought, as a marketer, that would be a deficiency, so I decided to go on the radio. I love music, I love reggae, I could speak to people through a mic without having to see them and that would give me the confidence to be a public speaker."

Eventually he would go on to become the station’s music director.

Today, the Utica native is Vice President of Marketing Analytics and Operations at Pandora, where he combines the keen business sense he gained as a business administration major (with a concentration in marketing) at Utica College with the same passion for music that put him on the air at WPNR.

At Pandora, he’s responsible for marketing operations, marketing strategy, product marketing, analytics, marketing planning, as well as consumer insights.

"I made the right choice in coming to Utica College to focus on marketing."
Mark Pilipczuk

“Those are basically the support functions you need to be successful in brand acquisition and retention marketing. I do math all day. The way I think about it is, in order to be a good marketer, you have to be mathematically sound. You’re investing millions of the company’s money into programs. You have to pay attention. You have to pay attention to the return on investment on every dollar. There’s no throwing away marketing dollars. You’re basically treating every dollar of the company’s money as your own to achieve the company’s objectives.”

Even in high school he knew he wanted to go into business, and while he found that accounting classes weren’t the best fit for him, he soon realized that marketing and its relationship to sales not only encouraged his interests in business, but would also enhance his employment prospects post-graduation.

“I had the good fortune of having several good professors in marketing and it reinforced my decision that I made the right choice in coming to Utica College to focus on marketing.”

He says it was at UC where he learned how to teach himself to think.

“Utica College gave me communications skills and confidence in myself. It taught me how to take a complex problem and break it down into its component parts and then develop a solution on a piece by piece basis. That was a skill I didn’t have when I went into college.”

Pilipczuk recalls one professor who made an early impression and left the young student feeling as though he could conquer the world.

“It was September 1985 and I was walking out of the classroom building after getting my first college paper graded and I got an A-minus. I remember walking out and at that moment I knew I would be successful because if I could get an A-minus in his class, I could do anything.”

It’s that type of push from faculty that he looks back on as an incredible value to his personal and professional life.

“You get very close one-on-one time with faculty. They’re going to push you and they’re going to help you push yourself to be better. That’s a key value of UC - experts in the field who are going to take an interest in you, not just in the classroom, but as a person, and I think that’s fairly unique to higher education.”

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