Candy Lee is a professor at Medill, where she teaches journalism and integrated marketing communications. Previously she was vice president of marketing at The Washington Post. In that role she oversaw multiple functions, including marketing, research and originating innovative programs.
Prior to joining The Washington Post, Lee was president of ULS Loyalty Services, the sister company of United Airlines. She oversaw a range of businesses that included united.com; the Mileage Plus credit card group; Mileage Plus program and its partners; media on planes and other business arenas. She previously was managing director at iFormation Group, formed by Goldman Sachs, Boston Consulting Group and General Atlantic Partners.
She also served as president of Troll Communications, a leader in K-12 education, and publisher of Harlequin Enterprises, an international publisher in 100 countries. She graduated from Harvard University and earned her doctorate in organizational leadership at the University of Pennsylvania.
Prof. Lee teaches sports marketing in Medill’s Sports Media specialization. She also played a critical role in coordinating the specialization’s 2017 trip to New York City as part of Medill Explores (pictured above touring Sports Illustrated).
What advice would you give to young sports reporters and marketers hoping to break into the industry?
Understand the business of sports and organizations. People want to be in sports because they are passionate about sports, but they still need to understand how sports organizations grow – and that requires knowledge of all parts of sports. Marketers often tell me they want to figure out “brand strategy” – but the glitz of the word “strategy” requires knowledge of organizations, talent development, customer solutions, financial imperatives and data experience.
What lessons and skills did you gain at the Washington Post that you now apply to your role as a professor at Medill?
One of the courses that I teach is Leadership Strategies and an important part of leadership is thinking about the future while still ensuring that current operations meet goals. This is especially true for media in the constantly changing landscape.
What is it about teaching that you enjoy the most?
I like thinking of ways to make learning engaging, fun, relevant and participatory.
How do you believe that Medill journalism and integrated marketing communications courses complement each other?
Both programs are about content and creating value for audiences or customers that engage, inspire, educate, inform and entertain. Both need to understand how to reach people where they are, through different forms of media and in many platforms.
What do you believe sets the sports media specialization program at Northwestern apart from other journalism programs in the country?
Many of the curricular aspects involve theory and practice so that students graduate with the ability to think ahead and be ready for new media and programs while also being ready to work from day one in an organization. The extracurricular aspects of the program, from mentorship to trips, from event coverage to guest speakers, from workshops to shadowing, add so much in-depth contact, networking and skill improvement that the program is unmatched. Additionally, the program is guided by stars in the field including J.A. Adande, Mike Wilbon and Christine Brennan.