Roland Reaves’ time at NCCU created the foundation for a successful career in marketing.
As a business administration major, Reaves used his time at the university to establish a fruitful network of connections and learn about industry opportunities that helped get his career off to a fast start.
After a succession of employment and career experiences, Reaves was recently promoted to senior brand manager for entertainment content and strategy for Procter & Gamble. In this role, he is responsible for entertainment content, product placement and partnerships for various brands owned by the company.
While a student at NCCU, Reaves completed several internships at well-known organizations, including Turner Broadcasting System Inc., McKinney and Macy’s, among others. Yet, he also remained active on campus, participating in activities such as the Sound Machine, Student Activities Board, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
Reaves accepted a post-graduation internship with BET through his connections at the T. Howard Foundation. That successful internship led to his first full-time position at the network and on to a six-year stint as a marketing and sponsorship activities manager for the BET Experience Music Festival, a three-day event that leads up to the BET Awards.
When Reaves is not working, he enjoys mentoring NCCU students and also event planning. He has organized numerous events for young alumni during NCCU Homecoming festivities.
Meet Roland, a true Eagle soaring.
Name: Roland Reaves
Degree/Grad Year: BBA Business Administration with concentrations in marketing and finance; 2014
Hometown: Warrenton, N.C.
Current City: Cincinnati, Ohio
Job/Career: Senior brand manager for entertainment content and strategy at Proctor & Gamble
Your social media handle: @PictureMeRoland (Instagram and Twitter)
Describe yourself in 3 words: Relentless, strong-minded and ambitious
Who would you choose as the one person who has most impacted your life?
Tried my best not to give a cliché response but I’d have to say my father. I’d say my outlook on life has been heavily influenced by his perspective. He’s a lawyer by profession, and while I didn’t choose that career path, he’s showed me the freedom, flexibility and control that entrepreneurship affords you.
What motivates you?
The opportunity in changing the perspective, education, trajectory and wealth gap within our Black community. There are so many ways to do this, but for me, it’s been educating myself as well as friends/family on financial literacy and collective investing.
What influenced your decision to attend NCCU and select your major?
I initially selected NCCU to major in music. I ended up changing my major and settling on business administration with concentrations in marketing and finance.
How did your education prepare for your career?
I think my education at NCCU gave a baseline for what to expect in corporate America. While a lot of the information isn’t necessarily used on the job, there’s a broad understanding of business.
What advice would you give a current college student?
- Use your time in college as a try/fail opportunity. Experiment however you see fit. For me, it was entrepreneurship. I started two business: Sophisticated Genius (clothing brand) and First Class Lifestyle (event planning) with partners. From those businesses/experiences I was able to figure out what my passion points were and how I wanted to steer my professional career.
- Internships! I think the best thing I could have done for my career is getting internship experience throughout college. Having at least two to three internships on your resume makes you highly competitive when applying to full-time roles. I was able to lock in media and entertainment industry internships like Turner Broadcasting and BET Networks through a program called the T. Howard Foundation that actually comes to NCCU’s campus. For fashion students, I’d suggest looking at a program called BRAG.
- Seek Mentors. As it relates to college students, find mentors that are in the profession/field you’re aiming for. I can’t explain how this has enhanced my experience and even saved me a couple backward steps.
- You’re only as big as your network! I heard this a lot in college, but I was able to see how this works firsthand living in New York. Often, we think of networking as “networking up” – engaging with people at a higher level of success or whose influence and connection could possibly help you. That’s important, but also find those students that have similar aspirations, whether it’s career, lifestyle, etc., and build together. They, too, can help put you in position and vice versa. I was able to leverage students on campus but also peer networks within some of the internship programs I mentioned earlier.
- Be intentional! College days swiftly pass. Devise a plan for what you want your life and career to look like 10, 15, 20 years down the line and figure out how to get there.
What does your average day look like?
Most of my days are meeting and/or connecting with colleagues that represent each brand in the P&G portfolio to understand brand objectives and target audience. From this info, I’m able to match entertainment resources and opportunities in the pipeline across product placement, gaming and audio.
The other half of my day is connecting with agencies and external properties (studios, social apps, media platforms, etc.) on their platform capabilities, brand integration concepts, and opportunities that might make sense. From here I evaluate those opportunities and take my POV and recommendations back to the brands within P&G’s 10 categories.
How has working in your industry changed the way you look at the world?
Working in the industry and being a consumer, you realize that underrepresentation of women and people of color within media and entertainment, whether its stories being told or the decision-making behind the scenes. One of the biggest factors in taking this new gig was the opportunity to play a role in P&Gs Force For Good efforts, particularly Racial Equality. You can check out some of those efforts here: Take On Race.
Who/What do you look to for inspiration?
Honestly, I look at my peers that are prospering in what they set out to do.
How do you handle work-life balance?
I’m one who always preaches to enjoy the fruits of your labor. I try to do one or two big trips a year and never miss Homecoming.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Sincerity is the most important aspect of relationships with others.
Judge Me Not: 9 Questions
- Maroon or Gray? Maroon
- 10:40 Break or Chicken Wednesday? 10:40 Break
- Mac or PC? Mac
- LA or New York? Los Angeles
- Hip-Hop or R&B? Depends on the mood! I’d say Hip-Hop for driving purposes!
- iPhone or Samsung? iPhone
- YouTube or Vimeo? YouTube
- Netflix or Hulu? Netflix
- Twitter or Instagram? Instagram