Following a long career in Management serving as a Vice President and Managing Director (at Ralston Purina, Agribrands, & Cargill), Jay Ritzen joined the School of Professional Studies in 2014 as a part of our adjunct faculty - quickly becoming an integral member of the instructional team and also offering his expertise in writing and revising the syllabi for several courses.
Jay relates two major reasons for his interest in bringing his skills to the classroom. The first linked to his own experience as an MBA student where he describes having an “out of touch” marketing professor. While Jay was in the trenches “practicing the marketing craft,” this instructor was, as Jay describes him, “sitting in his office reading outdated texts, writing theses, and pontificating to his class.” This proved to be a constant source of conflict between student and professor, and this experience led Jay to make a promise to himself that if he ever had the opportunity to teach, he would teach “real world” marketing not textbook theories. Secondly, he believes that “we’re in the midst of a marketing evolution that’s moving so swiftly that traditional textbooks and curricula can’t maintain the pace. Students deserve real-time marketplace stories and provocative approaches in order to prepare them for today’s marketplace challenges.” His desire is “to bring that intensity to the classroom.”
With this passion for the challenges of marketing and instruction, Jay comes uniquely prepared to bring this perspective to the classes that he teaches. Having dedicated his career to servant leadership on four continents and extensive travel that led him to 45 different countries, his experiences include leading new businesses, navigating shutdowns, leading sales and customer service teams, launching new products for both consumers and business to business on multinational levels, grooming future leaders, and experiencing the successes and failures of an expansive management career. He is thus well-poised to now bring that storehouse of knowledge and experience to the classroom.
For Jay, marketing is the “guts of any business,” and his goal is to transfer that knowledge to his students in a way that they are immediately able to use and apply the real-world experiences, concepts, and cases that he exposes them to in the classroom in both their current and future careers. He cites the positive influence of (his hero) legendary instructor at Harvard Business School, Professor Ted Leavitt, as his inspiration to spur excitement, interest, and curiosity in his own students through his teaching. (Leavitt, who died in 2006, was described by Harvard colleague, Professor and Associate Dean John Quelch as “the most influential and imaginative professor in marketing history.”) http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/ted-levitt-changed-my-life While this is an impressive aspiration, a quick look at comments from students* who have taken one of Jay’s classes attest to the fact that he is well on his way to building his own positive legacy at SPS. (*“He made class exciting! He made me want to learn marketing.” “He did a great job of relating marketing strategies and issues to real world scenarios.” “Jay’s real-life experience-covering the information that cannot be learned from a textbook, learning about the ever-changing nature of marketing.” “Prof. Ritzen has transferred his vast knowledge base to us.” “Very experienced” “Passionate” “Enthusiastic”)
Jay’s teaching is also informed by his beliefs “that every person has value and deserves civility, trust, and respect,” and that “people can accomplish much when inspired by a purpose beyond themselves” – principles that he brings to the classroom and his interactions with his students.
When he is not working, Jay and his wife can be found involved in their children’s events, or Jay can be found enjoying his pastime of swimming (at least 1000 yards every day!). Additionally, he has served in a number of volunteer positions that reveal his heart in helping, healing, and finding value in people. These include his service as a member of the Disaster Action Team and Chaplain with the Red Cross, Counselor and Chaplain with the Disaster and Terrorism Branch of the State of New Jersey, and as a Vestry member at his church. He also served as a Board Member of Healing the Children New Jersey – an organization dedicated to providing access to medical care to children in NJ and throughout the world.
Quoting actor and comedian Milton Berle – “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Jay shared these thoughts with us – “sometimes opportunities come your way, often when you least expect them. Other times, especially when you’re searching the hardest, they are quite elusive. It’s during those latter occasions that I lean on this quote. And yes, I’ve built quite a few doors in my life!”
We are grateful for the opportunities and the doors that led Jay to SPS! Currently, Jay is teaching for us in an online capacity. If you are in need of a marketing class for degree fulfillment or personal enrichment, look for Jay in an online SPS classroom.