Sandy Kornberg

Director, McCann Program


Missouri School of Journalism, BJ ’64

Whereabouts: United StatesGreenwichConnecticut

What are you currently working on?
I am currently involved as an Adjunct Professor, working with the the J-School’s Study Abroad Program  in Prague, Czech Republic, in conjunction with The Charles University. This latter activity has been particularly exciting for a number of reasons. As a result of an initial suggestion, it all came about because two world-class universities expressed a desire and willingness to work together for the practical learning advantages which could be passed on to their respective students. From this, it was simply a matter of identifying both American and Czech students who had a desire to compete in a team-based, international advertising agency situation. To inject the “real world” element to this program, McCann Erickson (Prague)  extended on-going invitations to its clients, to assist in providing an integrated marketing communications exercise for the students to work on, for one of their existing,in–market, local, or global brands. The results have been very successful for all parties involved.

This Program was also extended to Tokyo, Japan, and Hong Kong for a number of years, but because of the Covid pandemic, these were put on hold.

Most of your career has been global. How did this happen?
I had always wanted to live overseas. When I graduated from Missouri, my first job was with Monsanto in St. Louis. Four years later I ended up receiving an offer from J. Walter Thompson in Chicago. Because of the work I did there with soft drink advertising, I received an offer from McCann Erickson to go to Tokyo, Japan, to work on the Coca-Cola brands and to help launch their Sprite brand. During my seven years in Tokyo, I had additional responsibilities for a variety of McCann Erickson’s globally aligned brands such as Nestlé, Unilever, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, and many more.

What has been your biggest challenge in your professional career?
Learning how to live overseas. I was in Japan for seven years, the Philippines for three, Hong Kong for 14 years.. The challenge for me was being able to adapt to my job, and to the cultures, and the business practices of the countries. I traveled extensively, and had many long hours, and complicated, yet very rewarding situations with clients. Fortunately, it worked well, it was successful, and it was a wonderful experience for my family and me. If you are willing and prepared to put in the time and the effort, it can definitely be a fulfilling life experience, both personally and professionally.

What trends have you observed in advertising?
The world of Strategic Communications has continued to rapidly transition from a previous history of basic advertising messaging, to an ever-changing, and challenging digital, and social networking world, faced with on-going new technology.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to work overseas?
Let your employer know about your interest, make sure you have a good solid foundation in the agency and digital business, and a comprehensive awareness of the changes occurring in the global communications industry, and why, and how you feel that you can contribute to what is happening. Most importantly, possess a great sense of adventure, combined with a passion to want to work in a variety of previously unknown, and challenging business cultures.

What are some of the most rewarding experiences of your career?
Being able to continue and succeed with an international career for so many years. To have had that opportunity, to have progressed in my career, to have been promoted, and to have been successful, has all been very rewarding and gratifying.

If I looked in the trunk of your car, what would I find?
Because I am a Greenwich, Connecticut, Volunteer Firefighter, you will find all my fire-fighting gear; my protective pants and coat, my helmet, and face-mask for use when attached to an air pack. I also have a pager on all the time. I can get a call for a fire or an automobile accident any time during the day or throughout the night, and I’m out the door to respond. I also have a fly rod for trout fishing.

Any other interesting hobbies?
I had always wanted to learn how to fly, so I decided to take flying lessons, and got my pilot’s license while living in Hong Kong. A short while later, I also got my U.S. pilot’s license.

This is now, a memory, and experience of the past.

What does the Missouri School of Journalism mean to you?
It started me on a career path which I could never have imagined would ever occur, and develop as it did.. It provided a solid foundation of educational experience for me to get my first job in advertising, and to eventually take me into an incredible international career in advertising, with an outstanding global advertising agency system. The Journalism School has always been near and dear to me because both of my parents also graduated from the J-School. Finally, I was fortunate to have received the Missouri Honor Medal in 1996 “for Distinguished Service in Journalism and Advertising.” I never dreamed anything that incredible would ever happen to me.

Updated: April 14, 2023