When Diontay Santiago first enrolled at Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business, he wasn’t sure which area of study was right for him. He paired his business and liberal arts core classes with extracurricular opportunities like the semester-long Consulting Cup project in his sophomore year and—with support from the school’s Personal and Professional Development Center—discovered a passion for communications and teamwork.

He majored in marketing and, as a senior, put his skills to work in his hometown of the Bronx as a founding member of the student-run Fordham Business Development Collaboratory. The group, launched in June 2020 and now comprising more than 70 members, assists local businesses in the areas of finance, compliance, technology, and marketing. Santiago said he used that undergraduate experience to help land a job in the associate program at Ogilvy, a New York City-based advertising and marketing agency, where he’s been working since September 2021, soon after he graduated from Fordham.

Was there a Fordham course that really had a big influence on you and where you are today?
There’s a few courses I’d say that really shaped my time at Fordham. My freshman year I took Composition II, and just being in a course where all I did was write—and [the professor]gave us topics that were fairly open ended, so I was able to really put my own thoughts into the writing—cemented to me, “Hey, writing and talking, this is what I want for a living.”

A few marketing courses that I took were really valuable to me. I think one that really stuck out to me was my Global Marketing Sustainability course. When it comes to sustainability, not just talking about environmental sustainability, but sustainability in the way of “How does this affect the supply chain?” it really makes you consider whatever business decisions you’re making: How do they actually affect the world, not just the bottom line in profits?

Were you involved with any other academic programs at Gabelli?
The Gabelli School’s Consulting Cup is a very valuable experience for any student who studies business at Fordham. It gives you the simulation of working with a real corporate team, and I can say that the amount of emailing and creating deliverables and research that we had to do for the Consulting Cup—I’m not going to say it’s completely like working right now, but it’s similar. Having to email upper-level people [at the companies we were studying], cross-communicating within your own team, and finding solutions—it’s such a valuable experience for anyone who wants to go into any sort of business.

What activities were you involved with outside of the classroom?
I was a part of [ASILI], the Black Student Alliance—I was the president my senior year. I did a lot of stuff with the CCEL, the Center for Community Engaged Learning, including but not limited to GO! projects [to South Africa]. And then I was involved in History Makers my sophomore year going into my junior year, which was a program where you mentor and teach kids about social justice things and give them the context of the history in the Bronx.

You worked with the Fordham Business Development Collaboratory. Could you tell me about that experience?
The Fordham Business Development Collaboratory was amazing—shout out to my friend Rich [Shrestha, a senior at Fordham College at Rose Hill and economics major] for that one because that was a great idea he came up with, and it actually really translates to the job that I do now.

Being someone from the Bronx, that was really valuable because I was able to work with people who are from where I’m from, and I understand what the needs are for a lot of people. We were able to use Fordham resources, and not necessarily money resources, but intellectual resources—we have a plethora of students who are more than capable of being able to help people. It’s actually funny because it comes a little bit full circle: I’m in a rotation of programs at my job, and my first assignment is in the consulting group because they had seen my resume, and were like, “Hey, you do the Fordham Business Development Collaboratory. We think this would be a great match for you to continue to develop those skills.” So that was a really nice thing, that I was able to leverage the experience that I had and also that that experience benefitted others.

Can you tell me a bit more about the work you’re doing now?
I’m working for Ogilvy. It’s a subsidiary of a bigger advertising conglomerate called WPP, which is based out in London. I’m working in what’s called the associates program at Ogilvy—it’s a rotation program, where every six months for 18 months they’ll be placing me in different departments to work and give me exposure to different opportunities such as in account management, production, user experience, data and analytics. Ogilvy works with a lot of big clients—one of their biggest clients right now is IBM; they’ve had a long-term relationship for decades. It’s a pretty prestigious company when it comes to the advertising space, and I’m grateful to be there.

Interview conducted, edited, and condensed by Kelly Prinz, FCRH ’15.