Blake Whealy, MMH’ 12
Ontario, Canada & Saratosa, Florida
Blake Whealy is currently the Advertising Manager at Carnival Cruise Lines. His responsibilities include planning the strategy and implementation of national campaigns, primarily in the digital space. Additionally, he manages integrated marketing efforts in several of the company’s key markets – which includes planning, managing and measuring aligned digital, out-of-home, radio and partnership campaigns.
On a daily basis, he estimates that about 1/3 of the day is dedicated to strategy: analyzing markets – segments, creative approach alignment with media buys, and leaning into the overall ‘plan of attack’ for each of the markets for which he is responsible. Another 1/3 of his day is dedicated to creative execution – which involves leading an advertising agency team of six to produce tailored, high-quality creative to fulfill media buys. Finally, he tries to dedicate at least 1/3 of each day to understanding how specific creative executions and, more holistically, how overall campaigns are performing. There’s never a dull moment – from working through the above to agency partner meetings, internal touch-bases and more – the fast pace makes him tick!
Why Cornell? Why Hotel School?
I developed a dream to attend Cornell, specifically The Hotel School, as a teenager. I was raised in a family that valued traveling and hospitality – and I worked several years/summers in Hospitality roles from the time I could work.
Other than the fact that Cornell is such a well-regarded institution for hospitality leadership education, I was also intrigued by the course offerings and diversity of professors available to students. I was able to take courses from Revenue Management to Emerging Media during my tenure in the MMH program, with a variety of professors: some who came from the world of academia, others from a successful corporate career – to others who were former entrepreneurs. I valued the variety of perspectives that I gained from the faculty at Cornell. Also, the network is amazing. I was not only connected with the seasoned faculty, but also an instant network of driven peers – some of whom were ‘within my world’ of Marketing and others who were not, who exposed me to other areas of the hospitality business.
What was your concentration and why?
I determined my passion for Marketing during my undergraduate studies. I found myself enjoying the blend of quantitative and qualitative factors that are put into just about decision that goes into a Marketing campaign. I solidified my passion for Marketing after spending a few summers at JetBlue Airways, where I focused on Advertising and Online Merchandising/Analytics.
What’s your best advice for prospective MMH candidates?
My number one piece of advice is to come in with an understanding of what you want – even if you’re a career-switcher. The program has so many opportunities and experiences to take advantage of – and deciding how you’ll allocate your rather short amount of time in the program can be a challenge!
I came into the program from Teach For America – so, while I was a ‘career switcher’ – I think my clear understanding of my end goal was important in driving my selection of classes, extracurriculars and more.
What’s your best advice for prospective MMH candidates?
Be humble. Careers take decades of hard work to build. While an MMH degree is a wonderful, useful tool, it is not a replacement for years of dedication. It’s not shameful to start at the beginning and work your way up.
What’s your best advice for recent MMH graduates?
If you’re job-hunting: Within reason, wait for you envision being your best opportunity. Once you’re in a role, you’ve begun to establish your career direction, mobility and worth. You chose to take quite some time away from the working world to secure a career path – treat your job search as such. Finding that may take some time, but don’t settle.
On the ‘on-the-job’ front: lean into your company’s culture and resources. By understanding your environment and the styles and needs of those around, above and below you, by being an active listener, you’ll find yourself able to leverage the skills and insights that you’re bringing to the able more effectively. Leaning into your company’s resources can be literal – like enrolling in professional development opportunities. Resources also include mentors and networking opportunities – like we all did in the MMH program: network, network, network. This will open doors to unique opportunities and allow you to work more effectively on larger-scale initiatives that you may be tasked with.
What was your career path after MMH?
Following graduation from the MMH program, I began working at Carnival Cruise Lines. For the past three years, I’ve grown here at Carnival because I’ve been given opportunities to learn through exposure to many different types of projects within both of the roles that I had.
I joined Carnival as International Marketing Manager, and was responsible for the strategy and management of several direct marketing initiatives for Carnival UK and Carnival Australia. From Direct Mail to Database Marketing to Online Merchandising – I was exposed to a variety of data-driven projects from the get go.
Following a little more than a year on the International team, I transitioned to my current role – where I’ve been more focused on upper-funnel communications and media, which I think has been extremely beneficial in expanding my skill-set.
What is your most memorable MMH moment?
Seriously: When, two weeks prior to graduation, I started getting calls with job offers over which I stressed so much. The hard-work had paid off. The time away from home had paid off. The best part was that many of us shared in this pay-off moment together. Being that the MMH program is unique and sometimes doesn’t afford the opportunity to participate in the very traditional recruitment programs, you have to create your own path. For almost everyone, the path they had set out to get on became a reality in the last month or so of the program.
Not-So-Seriously: White water rafting during the summer term. Piling into rafts with some new folks you don’t know very well and hitting the rapids was really fun and one of the great group bonding experiences that I felt my cohort had!
Where in Ithaca were you able to find good food?
Neither Canadians nor Americans are known for particularly healthy foods originating in their cultures (just being honest…). I’m a fan of Vegetarian and Asian dishes – so you could probably find me hanging out at Moosewood or Tamarind Thai.