Berkeley Today Stories

Jo Ann Marianne is a Berkeley College alumna

Berkeley College Alumna’s 25 Years of Corporate Success Leads to Dynamic Career in Nonprofit Sector



After graduating from Berkeley College’s Executive Secretarial program in 1983, Jo Ann Marianne started at Sony Electronics in a secretarial position Berkeley College helped her secure. She steadily worked her way up Sony Electronics corporate ladder over the course of 25 years, getting promoted to various managerial roles in customer service, sales and marketing before becoming the Director of Product Marketing, overseeing the marketing strategy for a high-profit product business unit. “The core professional skills I learned at Berkeley College stayed with me as I transitioned into new roles and responsibilities,” Ms. Marianne said.

Ms. Marianne enrolled in Berkeley College because of its strong reputation with preparing young professionals for the corporate world. “Businesses knew that if you were going to hire a secretary from Berkeley, you were getting a professional with the complete skills and knowledge needed,” she said.

A core skill she learned while at Berkeley College that she credits with helping her stand out in the corporate world is proper etiquette. “I learned to dress, speak and act for success, no matter what the environment,” she said. “To this day, I ask myself, ‘If I was called to the Governor’s office, would I be dressed appropriately?’ If you are in any type of organization asking someone to spend money on a product or service, the way you present yourself is important.”

Her deadline-driven, proactive work ethic led her to new opportunities and positions at Sony Electronics. While at the company, she earned a B.A. degree in General Business and Marketing from The Lubin School of Business at Pace University. Before leaving Sony Electronics, she led a U.S. company-wide project overseen by the company’s president focused on driving long-term revenue through tracking and replicating customers’ priorities in an effort to maintain consumer loyalty and retention.

In 2009, Ms. Marianne decided to transition out of the corporate world and pursue a career in the nonprofit sector, earning a Certificate in Nonprofit Management. That same year, she became the Chief Operating Officer of the Ironbound Community Corporation in Newark, NJ. After three years there, a new job opportunity for her husband led her to relocate to St. Petersburg, FL. She then became Executive Director at the Gulf Beach Art Center, a fine art education organization based in Indian Rocks Beach, FL. “I fell in love with not only running an organization in need of modernization, but also with learning more about fine art,” she said.

Ms. Marianne spent more than a year with the Gulf Beach Art Center, before having to again relocate in Florida. She recently became the Deputy Director of the Brinker Education Initiative Foundation, an organization that provides advocacy and scholarship support to Hispanic students who choose a degree in S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, math) in order to fill employment gaps within high-tech companies and potentially earn a higher paid salary. “I love being able to bring my business skills to a nonprofit organization, and in return make a difference,” she said. “It is a reward you cannot measure. It has to be experienced.”

Up Close with Jo Ann Marianne

What does success mean to you?
Seeing the outcomes of contributing to your fellow staff members’ efforts toward obtaining their goals.

What initially inspired you to enroll in Berkeley College?
Graduates from Berkeley had a respected reputation for producing excellent secretaries. Berkeley’s placement rate was very strong, and with their help, I secured my first job with Sony.

How did Berkeley College prepare you for success?
Berkeley College provided me with the latest business skills, professional etiquette and other areas, to walk in to a company ready to contribute.

In which way(s) do you see yourself being successful in the future?
By continuing to take my business experience of more than 25 years to a nonprofit organization to advance its mission and make an impactful contribution to society.

What advice would you offer today’s college-bound students?
Seek out as many internships or jobs relevant to your degree during college in order to have an advantage and stand out from other applicants when seeking employment.

What was your most memorable moment at Berkeley College?
Simply learning technical and professional skills, plus etiquette, that would sustain me for years through any organization. Business etiquette is really becoming extinct.