As she graduates with an MBA in marketing from the Graduate School of Business Administration (GBA), Pam Ariyakulkan is looking forward to a new job in brand management that she’ll begin this fall.
But first, she has some stops to make.
This summer, she and her husband Ron Totong will travel to Southeast Asia, where they will teach conversational English in one of Thailand’s poorest provinces. With this trip, she’ll be reaching back to her roots in more ways than one—visiting the land of her parents’ birth, and also expressing the love of service that they instilled in her from an early age.
“It’s great to give back. I’ve been very fortunate, very lucky,” said Ariyakulkan, who hopes all her fellow alumni will find ways to “pay it forward” by using their talents to help others.
She has given back in various ways during her time at Fordham, serving as a mentor for undergraduate students and volunteering for New York Cares. Other activities dovetailed with her passion for marketing innovation: She served as president of the Fordham Graduate Marketing Society, organized and managed the GBA’s 2nd Annual Marketing Plan Competition, and organized a mobile marketing summit that brought students together with industry leaders.
She came to Fordham from Digitas, where she worked for six years as a media planner and media director after graduating from Boston University.
Working with clients such as Kraft Foods, for which she’ll be working this fall, she saw the importance of finding new and inventive ways to reach the consumer. “It wasn’t just about pushing your product,” she said. “It was about creating a whole experience, so I really like that side.”
Ariyakulkan also developed a strong interest in the larger strategy, and holistic, business-wide perspective involved in bringing products to market in the digital age. “It’s highly cross-functional,” she said. “You have to learn how to manage people, and you have to be able to see how everything is connected.”
That goes for her own life as well. She is quick to acknowledge the connections between her success and the help she got from family, friends and faculty members. Growing up in Westbury, N.Y., she imbibed an ethic of service from her parents, who both volunteered on the same school construction project in a rural part of Thailand during college. Her family always provided advice and moral support, and encouraged her to follow her dreams.
For Ariyakulkan, those dreams have a strong international bent. She has visited 25 countries, and chose GBA for its international programs, among other reasons. She took part in study tours in China and Turkey, and likes the challenge of marketing across cultures.
“It adds another layer of complexity” to try to understand consumers from another country, she said. “I just really love learning about cultures. It makes you look at things through a different lens.”