Student Spotlight: Gina Fleitman

Tell us about yourself.
I was born on Long Island but other than a brief stint in Athens, OH when my husband was working at Ohio University, I’ve lived in Pittsburgh my whole life. 100 years ago : ) I got BS degrees in Psychology and Technical Writing/Editing from Carnegie-Mellon; promptly co-founded a start-up (publishing for the paint and construction market); and spent the next 25 years as VP Sales & Marketing of that company. For the last five years I’ve been a Sales & Marketing Consultant.

Ever since I read Thomas Friedman’s book Hot Flat and Crowded, I’ve been fascinated by the ‘green’ movement, particularly renewable energy; recycling; and green building, since much of my career has been in the construction sector. Since my husband is a professor at Duquesne, I decided to finally go back for my MBA and it was my dream to get accepted into the SBP program. My career goal coming out of this program is to add a marketable new specialty to my resume. Up till now I’ve “type-cast” myself as a sales and marketing specialist. With this degree I hope to open new doors and re-define myself as someone with sustainability expertise.

What is one of your favorite things to do in Pittsburgh?
Go to the Strip District on a Saturday morning in search of ingredients to cook a wreck-the-kitchen awesome dinner that night. My husband hates the hustle and bustle of crowds, but I love all that human energy, and a Saturday morning in the Strip, especially in the warm weather, evokes images of the Chicago song Saturday in the Park. Penn Mac, the chocolate store, The Art of Steel, Penzey’s Spices, Wholey’s…just going inside makes me smile.

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a medal for?
Writing marketing communication e-blasts. While the majority of my career has been in sales, the last 5 years I’ve had the privilege of spending more time on my writing.  Nothing makes me smile like writing and designing a snappy e-blast marketing piece, sending it to a prospect list, checking to see who engaged, and comparing the results to my previous work or industry standards. This is highly competitive sport!

What skill would you like to master?
Statistics. Okay, seriously: I’m a liberal arts kind of gal. The highlight of my undergrad years were my classes in reading and writing poetry and fiction, studying history, etc.. To say I’m intimidated by numbers is an understatement. I’d like to come out of this program having gained the confidence to say yes, I CAN DO THIS where math is concerned.

What could you give a 30-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
B2B selling, especially cold calling. I’ve had a very expensive education in sales and done it all my life plus trained, coached and mentored sales teams.

Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
Kenya. My brother is a career diplomat with the US State Department, and I had the privilege of visiting him during his three-year stint in Nairobi. That trip exposed me to life-changing sights. I’ve always loved the outdoors – and Out of Africa is totally one of my favorite movies — so vacationing in a game park and going on safari to see some of God’s most amazing creations in the wild was priceless. But equally impactful was the wretched poverty I witnessed in many of the outlying villages: how did I get born to a life of relative privilege, and they not? Equally moving was seeing the graves on either side of the Mau Mau uprising: first, the little churchyard filled with tombstones of 19- and 20-year-old British boys who died on the side of England because their country asked them to pick up arms to defend it. Then, I toured the caves in the foothills where wounded tribesmen died fighting to take back their land from the British white colonial overlords. It truly brought home the concept that choosing to label a protagonist as either a “terrorist” or a “freedom fighter” simply depends on which side you’re on.