This edition of Who Makes Millersville Special features Dr. David DiRusso, assistant professor/chair of management and marketing.
Q: Where are you originally from?
I’m from Collegeville, Pa., and actually settled down in the town right next to it, Phoenixville.
Q: How did you become interested in studying marketing?
In my younger years I was really into chemistry, but I’m colorblind and that made mixing chemicals a bit dangerous! After that I bounced around from a few different disciplines: math, psychology, communications and accounting, but never really settled on any of them. I then took my first marketing class, Principles of Marketing, during my sophomore year of college and loved it! It was a unique blend of all the disciplines I was interested in. Shortly after, I took Marketing Research and knew that I was going to be studying marketing for a long time. All of my college degrees were in marketing from then on.
Q: From what school(s) have you earned your degree(s)?
I earned my bachelor’s of science in Business Administration in Marketing and Supply Chain Management at Shippensburg University (SHIP!) and my master’s in Business Administration and Ph.D. at Temple University.
Q: How many years have you been at Millersville?
I have been a full time professor at MU since 2008 and department chair of Management/Marketing since the beginning of 2015.
Q: What area(s) of marketing interest you the most?
Marketing research and Internet marketing are my passions. Marketing research is the most difficult part of marketing, but often the most useful because it tells you what people are thinking. After communicating with people, you almost always find something interesting and unexpected. Internet marketing is fascinating to me because it is always changing. I love uncovering the latest trends in social media marketing, search engine optimization, website design, mobile marketing and viral marketing.
Q: Do you have a favorite class to teach at Millersville? Why?
It’s very close between Internet Marketing and Marketing Research as both are challenging and interesting to teach, but I will have to say Marketing Research. Students are pushed very hard in that class and come out of it with a lot of new skills that will be useful to them in their careers, like how to design surveys, run a focus group, conduct personal interviews and perform statistical analysis. Students feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when they finish what is, for most of them, the biggest paper they will ever do.
Q: Besides teaching, do you do a lot of marketing outside of the classroom?
Yes! I particularly like to help smaller organizations reach their goals. I’ve helped retailers, online and off, software startups, book authors, nonprofit organizations and even religious institutions market themselves. These are the types of organizations that need marketing help the most, but often lack the resources or knowledge to do it. I find ways to help them set up operations, increase traffic or just solve a marketing problem they have.
Q: Do you have any advice for those looking to get into Marketing after graduation?
MARKET YOURSELF! I always encourage students to stand out and differentiate themselves in some way before graduation. We have a lot of opportunities for them to gain some real world experience through internships and get additional skills through a minor/second major in Graphic Design, English, Psychology, Sociology, Communication, Math or anything that will help them succeed. Our Marketing majors do quite well when looking for jobs, but I always want students to do everything they can to realize their potential and reach their career goals.
Q: How do you want students to remember you?
I want students to smile when they think of me. Either because they applied something I taught them, they reminisce about an enjoyable or fulfilling class project or in some way I was able to help them.
Q: Who or what has had the greatest influence on your life?
There have been a lot of people that have had positive impacts on my life. Obviously my family and friends come to mind! When I think of the greatest force that has impacted me, it would have to be education, college in particular. I always have and always will love learning new things, but it took me a long time to figure out what I was really good at and what I wanted to do. I could not have done it anywhere else except for a university, where I had the opportunity to try new things in a safe environment and get feedback from a variety of knowledgeable people. As an undergrad, I found my calling in marketing, got over my fear of public speaking, learned to write more effectively, learned to work in teams and learned a variety of statistical analysis programs. In grad school, I gained very valuable training and experience as an instructor, consultant and market researcher. Simply put, no other type of institution would give such a young and unproven person the chance to do these things. I imagine I would be a completely different person if I never went to college.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Helping people. At the end of the day, that is what this is always about. Whether I’m helping students plan their path to graduation as an advisor, teaching them the skills they need as an instructor, solving a problem they have as department chair or writing recommendation letters, it is always about helping students. It can be very challenging, but it is worth it when students contact me to say that I helped them graduate, get into grad school, study abroad or land their dream job.
Q: What are your hobbies outside of work?
I have a diverse set of hobbies to say the least! Despite the fact I do it a lot for work, I still like reading for fun and am catching up on all the old classics I’ve missed out on. Currently I’m finishing up “1984.” I got back into playing guitar after about a 10 year hiatus and found I still love playing Metallica, Pantera and Black Sabbath at full volume. Many students on campus know I’m a big fan of Magic the Gathering and am faculty advisor to the Millersville Magic Club. I like to stay physically active too and spend a lot of time on the treadmill and hitting the punching bag. I also play a lot of poker. My grandparents were regular visitors to the Atlantic City casinos and taught me to play when I was three. When I was young I used to see them almost every weekend and eat a huge Italian dinner and then play poker for hours! I also consider myself an amateur astronomer, and have a Dobsonian telescope I like to pull out on clear nights. Finally, I’m a huge Philly sports fan and especially love the Eagles and Flyers.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote?
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln. I’ve never found another quote to be as motivating as this one.
Q: What is your greatest accomplishment?
Successfully teaching my first college course. It was called Strategic Applications of Technology in Marketing at Temple University. I will never forget that. I was terrified because I never taught anything before at any level, was only 23-years old and there were over 60 students, most older and more experienced than me. I had only a few weeks to prepare and I was a Ph.D. student for only a semester! Plus, it was a new class that not many professors had taught before, so I didn’t have many people to go to for help. I overcame it all and learned a lot from that experience. It helped make me the instructor I am today.
Q: If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?
THE ONE I HAVE NOW! What else would it be?