Global Business Leader Meets with Knox Students

Retired president of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company speaks to 2 of Spittell's classes

February 27, 2012

Duke Petrovich '74 speaks to Knox College students in John Spittell's class

Knox College students in faculty member John Spittell's classes got the opportunity to learn from one of the world's top business leaders, the recently retired president of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company.

Dushan "Duke" Petrovich, who graduated from Knox in 1974, spent more than an hour fielding questions from students in Spittell's winter term marketing classes, "Strategic Brand Management" and "Marketing and Society," on February 13. Petrovich retired from Wrigley at the end of 2011.

Brittany Wisniewski, a junior from Park Ridge, Illinois, called the experience "really rewarding and beneficial."

"I think you can learn a lot more from talking to people and hearing about their experiences than you can from just a textbook, and Duke definitely delivered on this," said Wisniewski, who is enrolled in the "Strategic Brand Management" class. She has a major in environmental studies and a minor in business and management.

"I took a lot away regarding his experience at Wrigley," she added. "In class, we read a brand case study every day, and talking to Duke was like bringing one of the cases to life."Duke Petrovich '74 speaks to Knox College students in John Spittell's class

The interactive discussion took place through an online audio/video hookup that allowed Spittell's students and Petrovich to see one another and talk in real time. Spittell told the students that engaging with guest speakers supplements the classroom education they receive at Knox, further preparing them for the future.

Spittell regularly invites visitors to his classes at Knox. Previous guest speakers have included Ron Rubin, owner and chief executive officer of The Republic of Tea, Kevin Willer, a former head of Google's Chicago office who is now CEO of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, Lee Dolan, vice president of marketing at Miller Coors, and Marilynn Graves, vice president at Fifth Third Bank. (Photo at right: Spittell facilitates discussion among his students and Duke Petrovich '74.)

"I believe in connecting the campus with the outside world," said Spittell, Professor of Business and Management and Executive-in-Residence at Knox.  It's quite beneficial to engage students with speakers who are in corporate management to discuss what they do, what skill set they possess, and how they deal with the issues and challenges they face. For students, it connects the space between college and their chosen areas of professional interest."

Duke Petrovich '74 speaks to Knox College students in John Spittell's classKnox students spent an hour conversing with Petrovich. Wisniewski, for example, asked him how the company decided when the time was right to launch a new brand, especially in other countries. Eric Ballard, a post-baccalaureate fellow at Knox, asked about the company's strong commitment to sustainability.

"I didn't think sustainability should ever be used as a marketing ploy. I think it's the right thing to do," Petrovich said.

Students said they appreciated interacting with Petrovich.

"This was an example of how academia and real-world experience, combined, can significantly contribute to education," said Knox senior Maksymilian Czuperski, who has a major in International Relations and a minor in business and management. "The face-to-face experience with a distinguished speaker like Dushan Petrovich allowed all participating students (including myself) to gain a unique insight on the topics and content previously learned in the course."

Czuperski, who is from Braunau, Austria, also is the teaching assistant for Spittell's "Strategic Brand Management" class, and he helped with preparations for Petrovich's online appearance. "Working on this project has exposed me to enormously valuable project development experience," he said. (Photo at right: Maksymilian Czuperski shakes hands with John Spittell after the conclusion of the videoconference with Duke Petrovich.)Duke Petrovich '74 speaks to Knox College students in John Spittell's class

Doug Lillibridge, a junior from Byron, Illinois, said the video conference with Petrovich provided him with a detailed look into the business world. "Mr. Petrovich shared thoughts and explained strategies, with a real-world insight, at a deeper level," said Lillibridge, who is majoring in economics with a minor in business and management.

Senior Ben Wetherbee, who is from Sydney, Australia, said the exchange with Petrovich was an excellent opportunity "to hear from one of Knox's most distinguished individuals in the field of business."

Wetherbee, who is majoring in economics with a minor in business and management, added: "Conversing with Knox alumni serves as a great networking opportunity as it allows current Knox students to connect with Knox alumni and build relationships going forward."