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Subway marketing director speaks at UConn

Staff Writer

Published: Monday, February 27, 2012

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

Sonja Tilki, the Director of Marketing for the popular Subway food chain, spoke with the Marketing Society at their meeting on Monday about her challenges and triumphs in the marketing industry.

Tilki, herself a graduate from the UConn School of Business, spoke to her audience in a casual tone and began by sharing a few of her own college memories. Her presentation, titled "Planning Your Trip Into Marketing," was themed as an itinerary, with each stop representing a stepping-stone to her current destination at Subway. Her experiences ranged from working with smaller companies, such as an independent non-alcoholic beer label, to marketing for large corporations such as Coke and Pepsi.

One of the challenges that Tilki discussed in her presentation was the competitiveness of the marketing field. "Marketing majors compete for jobs with communications majors and even engineers," she said. She advised students to specialize and take liberal arts classes in order to and set themselves apart from other applicants.

Towards the end of her presentation, Tilki shared some of her Subway experiences with the audience, coupled with some Subway trivia. "Yes, I have met Jared," she said, referring to the famous Subway weight-loss spokesperson. She added that she had also met several celebrities during her career, such as actor Ryan Reynolds and Olympic athlete Michael Phelps.

Tilki's casual and approachable demeanor, combined with her vast knowledge of the marketing industry, made her popular with the audience. "Sonja was hands-down our best speaker so far," said Marketing Society VP of Guest Relations Alex Behjati, a 6th-semester international business major. "People were very interactive with her and she gave such great advice. She has gone through some phenomenal career changes and she's very personable, very funny, very smart."

"She was a terrific speaker - she spoke not so much like a teacher to students but a friend to peers," said Marketing Society President Jesse Rifkin, a 4th semester political science and journalism double major. "The way she would tell personal stories or talk about aspects of her life, like raising kids and what she likes to eat when she goes into Subway - those were touches that were like a conversation among equals. I enjoyed it a lot; she was great."

Although marketing is a challenging field, Tilki said that she enjoys her work. "I love my job," Tilki said. "I want you guys to love your jobs, too."

The Marketing Society meets on Mondays from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in room 211 in the School of Business. Their next meeting is on March 5, where they will be hosting a guest speaker from Xerox.

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