Converge 2019 Speaker Spotlight: Q&A with Regina Moldovan from SMU

Converge 2019 Speaker Spotlight: Q&A with Regina Moldovan from SMU

An interview with Regina Moldovan, Assistant VP of Public Affairs at the Southern Methodist University.


Regina has led the transformation of marketing teams to better support the strategic goals of three major nonprofit organizations. At SMU, she leads a group responsible for the creative, planning, digital marketing, media and community engagement for the university, collaborating with marketing and communications colleagues and stakeholders across campus to bring to life the SMU brand message, “World Changers Shaped Here.” Their work increases recognition of SMU as a premier comprehensive research university, communicates the impact that alumni and North Texans make on Dallas through their investments in SMU, and describes to prospective students why SMU is an outstanding choice for their education. Regina joined SMU in 2017 from Momentous Institute and Salesmanship Club of Dallas where she led the communications team. Prior to that, she was the chief marketing officer for United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. She earned a master’s degree in business from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in history from Duke University.

Converge Consulting (CC): Would you consider yourself a left brain or right brain thinker?

Regina Moldovan (RM): I was surprised many years ago to discover that I’m a right brain thinker. I am creative and think outside the box but because of being in business for so many years and honing skills in business school, I’ve also learned a lot about process and thinking in a linear fashion. I just assumed I was a left brain thinker until I took a test. Many things became clearer then… for instance, why math, stats, physics made no sense to me growing up and my love for the creative, fun and big ideas.

Converge Consulting (CC): What was the biggest factor that inspired you to shift your career from sports marketing to higher education at Southern Methodist University in 2017?

(RM): It really came down to the challenge of the job at SMU: the opportunity to lead a larger team and impact the trajectory of a major brand. It is also a mission and value I hold dear – higher education. Higher ed is complex and there are many moving parts to marketing SMU. The culture and people also influenced my decision – I enjoy collaborating with all the marketing leaders across the schools and units, admissions and development.

Converge Consulting (CC): What are some challenges about being the Assistant VP of Marketing & Communications at a private university that may not come with a public university?

(RM): Private universities generally have higher tuition than state universities, and that creates several marketing challenges, including:

  • Reaching students from all economic backgrounds
  • Communicating the complicated pricing model, where the “sticker price” isn’t paid by the vast majority of students – but we can’t tell you exactly what you’ll pay until you’re way far down the admission funnel
  • Demonstrating the ROI or added value of the extra cost of the private university compared with a public one

I think that’s likely to become an increasing problem for private universities, particularly as some kind of digital revolution comes to higher education.

Lastly, public schools enjoy the awareness of big-time athletics. Out of the 65 teams in the Power Five conferences, only a dozen or so private (Baylor, Boston College, Duke, Miami, Northwestern, to name a few).

Converge Consulting (CC): Those who have worked with you in the past have unanimously described you as energetic, passionate, and driven. What would be your best advice for marketing professionals today that want to reflect those same qualities?

(RM): Focus on a purpose that you love. I’m glad people describe me in that way, but it would be harder for me to show that same level of energy, passion and dedication if I were marketing construction tools or widgets, for instance. I firmly believe that higher education provides people with the opportunity to chart a new trajectory for themselves. It empowers people with the tools to think through and solve most problems. In many cases it can help lift a person and/or their family out of poverty.

So I’d advise that if you want to show your passion, choose a profession that enables you to focus on what you believe in and value most. I also believe that a person can have many professional lives. If your first choice isn’t a fit, assess what brings joy to you at work, the type of environment you thrive in, the people you enjoy working with, what you are most proud doing and see what other opportunities match your answers. I’ve been in marketing for a long time working in professional services, then telecom, then nonprofit and now higher ed. It’s taken me a few professional lives to get to nonprofit and higher ed, and I wouldn’t change the journey, but I’m the most fulfilled right now.

Converge Consulting (CC): What excites you most about presenting at Converge 2019?

(RM): I look forward to meeting marketing leaders from other universities and connecting with them on the challenges they face and learning from them. I’m also looking forward to sharing how SMU is marketing and promoting its programs through the panel and through meeting industry colleagues.

Converge 2019

Regina will be a part of a the Welcome Keynote: Higher Education Marketing 2029: Predictions from Today’s Top CMOs. on Opening Day at Converge 2019 in Atlanta. Register now so you can get the opportunity to engage with Regina and learn more about the amazing things she is doing.

Sydney Wientjes
Sydney Wientjes
February 5, 2019