Working For the ‘Wow’

Jon Wolff with DJ Diesel, a.k.a. Shaquille O’Neal, at an event in Orlando.

Jon Wolff with DJ Diesel, a.k.a. Shaquille O’Neal, at an event in Orlando.

Credit: contributed photo

Young alumnus manages company’s multimillion-dollar global marketing events budget

When Jon Wolff wrapped up his last Lion Entertainment Board (LEB) After Dark event before graduating from Penn State Behrend in May 2013, he remembers the sense of relief. “I thought, I won’t have to worry about planning events anymore,” he said.

The joke was on him. Turns out his club activities would be as vital to his career preparation as his classes were.

Just ten years after he managed a $150,000 LEB budget, Wolff, 33, is now in charge of a $5 million budget as the Global Events Manager for the Solutions & Services Group of the computing products and services company Lenovo in North Carolina, where he “leverages experiential and digital marketing tactics for enhanced brand management.”

In plain English: Wolff puts together events that showcase Lenovo products and technologies to meet the company’s strategic business objectives. And today’s event marketing encompasses far more than just a table with a banner.

“It includes a spectrum of strategies, ranging from digital marketing, including website, email, and social media, to traditional approaches, such as outdoor ads and magazine placements, as well as collaboration with sales teams,” he said.

It also requires strategic planning to meet key objectives and goals, said Wolff, who aims to infuse the process with creativity. “We consistently seek to generate memorable and impactful moments.”

In October, Wolff and his team scored a “wow” moment when they hired DJ Diesel, otherwise known as Shaquille O’Neal, for a Lenovo-sponsored reception in Orlando, Florida, that also featured a miniature Formula 1 Lenovo remotecontrolled race track that Shaq was seen enjoying a few turns on.

Until recently, Wolff was a one-person show, managing thirty to forty events a year and flying around the world to oversee Lenovo events. He’s been to London, Lisbon, Barcelona, Singapore, and, most recently, Amsterdam. While it sounds glamourous, Wolff said the majority of his time is spent in airports, hotels, and convention centers.

“Thankfully, we’ve brought in a new team member to assist with many of the events, allowing me to concentrate on the broader strategy,” he said. “I have full confidence in her ability to bring our vision to life at the events.”

Wolff works long hours—12-hour days are not unusual—but he said the most challenging part of doing his job in the global market is juggling time zones.

“Being situated five to twelve hours behind poses a challenge when we require same-day task completion,” he said. “I am constantly strategizing, ensuring we utilize the available time efficiently to deliver results to the local team. The most demanding aspect of my role is orchestrating activities across multiple time zones.”

But Wolff enjoys the challenge. He said one of the things that excited him about the job with Lenovo was having the opportunity to create a global events strategy from scratch—from concept to execution.

“I liked the idea of putting a strategy in place and then seeing it come to life,” he said.

Vital Statistics

Family: Wife, Marissa, a 2014 Behrend graduate; son, Gavin, 18 months.

Career Trajectory: Larson Texts, event marketing and inclusive digital marketing, sales, and analytics, 5 years; Parker Hannifin, senior events specialist, 3 years.

On Working in a Global Setting: “The people make the job. Getting exposure to different markets and working with international colleagues has led to a broader skill set, improved adaptability, and a more wellrounded professional profile as well as making a positive impact on a broader scale.”

Favorite Country He’s Been To: “I really enjoyed Portugal (Lisbon) and Singapore. Singapore was a good initiation into the Asian Pacific market because there are a lot of English speakers, and the city is rich with history and impressive architecture.”

Advice for Current Students: “Take international marketing or business classes. In the United States, we tend to be fixated on North America, but most companies are global today. You will be working with people from around the world.”

On Giving Back: Wolff has stayed in touch with the Black School of Business and has worked with Dr. Severine Patanakul, coordinator, global programs, and other faculty members to develop mentorship programs with students, and serve as a guest speaker.