Local marketing pro Alex Bertoni joins Saint Michael’s
Alessandro “Alex” Bertoni, Saint Michael’s College’s new director of marketing and communications since July 20, feels he’s landed at an institution that is an academic rising star with a compelling social mission.
Bertoni said he is keen to tell that story well as Saint Michael’s advances an already strong position in the higher education marketplace, as he sees it. “In my talks with the leadership and community here, I sense a lot of optimism,” he said. “I believe Saint Michael’s is in a great position to be an important voice for the value and important role of a liberal arts education and preparing students for fulfilling careers – while still preparing students to think, adapt, innovate and care for our world and each other”
“It’s exciting for me to be in a position to help shape that distinct message and have the college’s voice be heard by a much wider market than it is today,” he said.
With more than 18 years of experience in marketing, Bertoni brings expertise in marketing strategies based on data and analysis to successfully define and differentiate institutions, products, and services. While at Champlain College from 2003 to 2010, he led the marketing and communications efforts during a significant period of transformation and enrollment growth, emphasizing a collaborative and results-oriented leadership style, he said.
Beyond academia, he has led marketing efforts in community building and online banking as well as in renewable energy. Bertoni holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the State University of New York at New Paltz and has a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Vermont.
As a marketer, Bertoni appreciates a good story. He shared with amusement that he was born in a New York City taxi cab as it sped his mother to the hospital in his native Manhattan — “so, I guess you could say I’m a born New Yorker,” he said — right down to attending the LaGuardia High School of Music and Art while growing up on the Upper West Side.
He has long-held enthusiasms for skiing, soccer, sailing and travel. His professional trajectory took him from finance in New York City to marketing in Vermont: first for the ski-boot manufacturer Nordica, then for banks, an energy start-up, Champlain College, and most recently, as an international marketing consultant, which included more than a year living and working in Italy in 2011-2012.
Bertoni’s direct connections to Saint Michael’s include his mother completing a master’s program in Teaching English as a Second Language at the college many years ago, and his sister, a local elementary school teacher, currently working on her Saint Michael’s master’s in education.
In a way, liberal arts education is in Bertoni’s blood. His maternal grandfather, Willard Pope, chaired the University of Vermont English Department for many years, and on family trips to the Burlington area from New York, Bertoni learned to love Vermont. He says those memories influenced a decision that he and his wife, Stephanie, made in the early 1990s to move to Vermont from Manhattan.
Bertoni’s first jobs in Vermont helped him realize that marketing better suited his creative instincts than did finance; so while continuing to work, he also completed an MBA at the University of Vermont, focusing on marketing and marketing research as he transitioned to those specialties on the job.
After Nordica, Bertoni moved on to marketing positions with Banknorth Group, Inc. in Burlington (1997-99); GreenMountain.com in South Burlington, a leading provider of renewable energy, (1999-2000); and Everbank, Inc. in Stowe (2000-02). In 2003 he noticed Champlain had an open marketing leadership post that interested him. “Working with people’s hopes and dreams and their futures, appealing to how a college can help shape that – that’s a beautiful thing to market,” Bertoni said.
Bertoni has been an enthusiastic world traveler since childhood when his late father would take their family to visit relatives in Italy. So when a chance arose in 2011 to do marketing for the European Alliance for Innovation and its parent organization, CREATE-NET, it was an adventure that an Italian-fluent cosmopolitan marketer like Bertoni couldn’t resist. He, his wife, and two children, Isabella and Graham, now ages 16 and 13 respectively, moved to Italy and lived there for more than a year before returning home to Colchester, where Bertoni resumed work as a strategic marketing consultant.
“Higher education has gotten more and more competitive, and as a result marketing has become a fundamental aspect of a college’s success,” he said. “Articulating what is distinctive about the institution to the right audience and having that be memorable is not easy in today’s ad-saturated society. Relevance, clarity, timing and consistency are key.” A priority for him out of the gate will be “highlighting the extraordinary experience students have here – from the transformational student-faculty interactions, to the Edmundite Father’s community inspiring social-justice work, to the long history of strong international programs.”
Sarah Kelly, Saint Michael’s vice president for enrollment and marketing, said, “I am tickled that the end of a national search that drew more than 100 applications resulted in hiring someone from our ‘backyard.’”
“Alex brings proven higher education marketing know-how to Saint Michael’s College,” Kelly said. “His creativity, collaborative nature, humor and deep appreciation for our mission positions Alex to lead our marketing and communications and take us to the next level in a highly competitive market.”