Robert Friend '79
"Seeing and finding old friends and colleagues has been an important aspect of my connection, both personally and professionally."
Were you an undergraduate or graduate student, or both?
Why did you decide to come to Emerson?
Emerson was the only school that had a performing arts focus in performance and education. Plus a number of my friends from high school attended the College and I heard great things. Lastly, it was a Boston school and I was interested in a Boston-based college.
How is Emerson a part of your life today?
Emerson is an enormous part of my life today. Besides serving as the president of the Alumni Association and chair of the Alumni Board, I have been actively engaged in connecting to Emerson for more than 20 years. I reconnected when I returned to the East Coast from southern California and was asked to participate on the Alumni Board. Seeing and finding old friends and colleagues has been an important aspect of my connection, both personally and professionally.
Describe a favorite Emerson memory.
There are many. My work with the Musical and Leo Nickole, Broadway Melodies on WERS, hosting Shirley Jones for the Musical Theatre Society Award of Distinction during the performance of Oklahoma in 1979, singing with the Madrigals with Steve Wilson and then Scott Wheeler, Reverend John Coffee, Bernie McPherson, Lenny Riendeau, Harry Morgan, and Brooks Russell and the Blizzard of '78 during the Term 1A mini-musicals.
Tell us about an "Emerson Connection."
One just happened recently. I am on the Board of Directors for the League of Historic American Theatres. Alex Stoll is a new Board Member and at a Board meeting last week, we discovered we were both Emerson graduates. I actually knew that there was something unique in the way that he communicated, and it all made sense when we made this discovery. He has that Emerson swagger.
What is your title and how would you describe what you do to a current undergraduate?
I am currently VP of Sales and Marketing for Choice Ticketing Systems, a leading provider of integrated ticketing and transaction-based technology solutions for the commercial and nonprofit performing arts and entertainment market.
Describe a notable achievement in your career.
Besides being an ongoing speaker at industry conferences across the country, I recently was recognized by the Brooklyn College Managers for the Arts for my teaching contributions to the Brooklyn College MFA Program in Performing Arts Management.
What are your goals for the future?
To continue my work in the performing arts and entertainment industry by delivering effective marketing, development, and financial management and technology solutions that can enhance the growth and sustainability of performance venues and facilities around the world.
Describe Emerson in 3 sentences or less.
An educational center that provides access to the performing arts, entertainment, and communication disciplines and gives its students the ability to reach beyond their capacity and achieve the unexpected in a creative and entrepreneurial community, and are led by mentors and professors who, by their own right, are preeminent leaders in their respective fields.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
The effort you put into your Emerson experience is what you will get out of it. The more you embrace the work that you do during your time on campus, the stronger the impact it will have for you in your career. Do not take it for granted. Soak up every idea and every nuance of your work. Earn it!
What advice do you have for recent graduates?
Work hard. Network. Connect with an Emersonian at least once a week...stay connected to the College. The benefits are enormous. Do not stop reaching beyond your capacity. Never stop learning and always teach what you know to others. Give back when the opportunity arises (i.e., mentoring, giving, both). Giving back to Emerson, no matter the size of the financial gift, or the amount of time you give as a mentor, is so, so important. As alumni, we received such a gift from this institution. Let's pay it forward and support future generations.