Mark Pelletier

March 20, 2018

After 21 years primarily in photography sales on the Las Vegas Strip, Mark Pelletier decided it was time for a change.

“I was doing sales and sales management for a long time; in fact, I’d kind of done it all sales-wise,” he said with a chuckle. “I got into academia late. I went back to school to get my marketing degree, and I just fell in love with it.”

The transition from the fast-paced life of sales on the Strip to attending college as a nontraditional student was one that Pelletier found invigorating.

“When I went back to school, I was surrounded by forward-thinking people – people that genuinely wanted to make a difference,” he recalls. “I really liked the vibe, and I knew by my third semester that this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach.”

With his new career path in mind, Pelletier pursued his goals fervently – obtaining his marketing BSBA, M.B.A. and Ph.D. in just under a decade. After a few years teaching at Virginia’s Radford University, he joined UNCW as an assistant professor of marketing in 2017. As a new Seahawk, he noticed something special about the environment in Wilmington.

“UNCW’s relationships with local businesses allow students direct access to some pretty amazing opportunities. Professionals can come in and provide a real-life selling scenario and use actual examples from their businesses,” he said. “The quality of our students is extremely high, and they really respond to being challenged. I’ve never been to an institution where the students were in such demand from local businesses. It’s impressive.”

Partnerships with local business firms have given students a great opportunity for real-world experience and access to meaningful feedback from professionals in their field. Earlier this month, the Cameron School of Business launched the Center for Sales Excellence and Customer Delight, which will provide even more development opportunities to students and businesses.

“The center is an interface between the faculty, the sales workplace, the students and the firms.” Pelletier explained. “Outside firms have access to our students, to our faculty and to some of the research that we do, and we have access to them, their unique expertise and some of their data. There are a lot of firms that want to be a part of what we do here at UNCW, and the center allows for all of this to happen.”

The center’s mission is to develop students' ability to think and work collaboratively, which is something Pelletier believes is critical to an evolving job market.

“I believe sales is becoming a more valuable skill for our students to have,” he said. “Social and collaborative skills are becoming increasingly important, and firms are clamoring for interpersonal communication skills, which is really all that sales is. Sales is just the communication of value.”

- Christina Schechtman