Secrets of a Business Success Story

NEWBURGH, N.Y. – Students from a myriad of academic fields were eager to learn from Jack Belsito, CEO of Voss of Norway, who served as keynote speaker at two recent Mount Saint Mary College events. The college’s Student Business Association invited Belsito, who discussed “Building a Brand: The Role of Marketing Strategy.” The CEO propelled the Voss water brand in the market place, and taught business students to utilize similar techniques to boost their own careers. He revealed how he and his company built the brand, won in focused markets, and optimized costs and infrastructure.

Belsito, the former CEO of Snapple Beverage Group, has thrived for more than two decades in the beverage industry with companies such as Procter & Gamble, Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages, and Pepsi. One of the Massachusetts leader’s best tips: “Don’t take shortcuts unless you plan to get a shortcut back.”

At the Mount’s annual Meet a Mentor dinner. Belsito, along with a dozen successful Mount graduates and friends of the college provided students with valuable connections. The event was organized by the Office of Alumni Affairs. 

The career triumphs of Charles P. Frank, global alliance manager for IBM and a Mount Saint Mary College trustee, were inspiring for Angelo Biondo of Hauppauge, N.Y., a business major with a concentration in sports management. “Mr. Frank taught me to keep persevering, no matter what,” Biondo explained. “Life is going to take you so many ways. Just keep going, because eventually you’ll get to where you need to be.”

Frank emphasized that professionals can benefit from being flexible in their career path.

“Students don’t have to pick one career and march to that tune,” he said. “Their needs and wants will change, and what they learn here is a foundation for the future.”

James P. Kelly ‘97 taught English for a decade in the Arlington Central School District in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. before beginning a second career as community habilitation supervisor at Occupations, Inc. of Orange County. “I enjoy taking the opportunity to give back to the college, but also the community,” Kelly explained. “It’s a big world out there, and the students are in a good place at the Mount. They have a good beginning to their career.”

 Amanda Pecorella with Crystal Johnson 

Crystal Johnson ‘06, a senior accountant at Walden Savings Bank, has ongoing discussions about interview tips, job skills, and more with some of the students she mentored at previous dinners. “At these dinners, Mount students don’t just find a mentor for one night – they might find one for life,” she said. “And it’s really rewarding to give advice.”

Nicholas Shannon ‘03, discussed how he puts his degree in communications to work as the executive director at the Chamber Foundation of the Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce.

According to Joseph Valenti, vice president for advancement at the Mount, 75 percent of executives point to mentoring as playing a key role in their careers, and more than 60 percent of college graduates list mentoring as a key criterion for selecting an employer.   

Other Mount alumni bringing their advice to the table were Marilyn J. Ejercito ‘77, director of patient services at Orange County Department of Health; Eileen M. Toomey ‘86, a nurse at Orange County Department of Health; Sean Glander ’06, an accountant at Vanacore, Debenedictus, Digovanni and Weddell, LLP; Katherine E. Kuhfahl ‘12, a teacher at Rockland BOCES; Christopher S. Boydston ‘11, a forensic psychologist at Downstate Correctional; Amy M. Peluso ‘00, principal of Scotchtown Avenue School; Lisa Neer ’97, a school psychologist in the Highland School District, and Craig R. Filippini ‘03, chief information officer at SRSsoft.

Ellen Daley, vice president of communications of Orange County Chamber of Commerce, was the college’s director of public information for several years. She made a point of emphasizing the importance of critical listening and communication skillsDaley added that she was impressed with the dedication of the Mount students.

Headlining Photo: Jack Belsito, CEO of Voss of Norway, recently taught Mount Saint Mary College business students some of his secrets of marketing strategy. Shown: Mount business seniors (left) Fallon Witte of Loudonville, N.Y.; Tara McDermott of Summit, N.J.; Amanda Ashmore of Saugerties, N.Y.; and (right) Leanne O’Reilly of Mahopac, N.Y. Photo by Lee Ferris.


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