Springfield, Ohio - John Shumate, Wittenberg class of 1999, took on numerous leadership roles during his time on campus and feels that those experiences helped guide him in his current career.
Shumate, the director of strategy and innovation for PepsiCo's water portfolio, was actively involved with several organizations while a student at Wittenberg where he majored in business administration. A member of the Xi Chi chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, he held leadership positions on the Student Senate and Student Appellate Board. He was also president of Union Board and brought several entertainers to campus, including Hootie and the Blowfish, Carrot Top, Tommy Davidson, and A Tribe Called Quest. Today's version of WittFest started in 1998 under Shumate's direction and is still going strong as Wittenberg hosted the music event on April 22.
In his current role, Shumate is responsible for leading the strategy and innovation agenda for the Aquafina and LIFEWTR brands at PepsiCo. Prior to taking over these major accounts, Shumate managed the Gatorade brand, directing the G series portfolio and focusing on the company's innovation platform. Additionally, he supervised cross-functional teams in driving and executing brand initiatives, devised marketing strategies, promotions and branded content, and led Gatorade brand partnerships, including all National Football League (NFL) properties comprised of 32 pro teams, NFL Players Inc., and such NFL athletes as Cam Newton and J.J. Watt. The portfolio also included 28 universities and the College Football Bowl Series.
A high-visibility brand builder for world-class corporations, Shumate has also developed and managed partner alliances with the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Live Nation properties, as well as celebrities, athletes and entertainers.
Looking back, Shumate said his Wittenberg experience played an integral part of his successful career.
"My experience as president of Union Board was a huge part of what led me down the current path I am on," he said. "Leading a large organization of students and managing a six-figure budget while in college was an experience of a lifetime. Having the opportunity to develop strategy and execute it for a campus organization was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was able to gain a strong understanding of how to lead and manage people, develop strategy and business plans, manage a large budget, as well as market and drive revenue for the organization. Union Board was one of the best experiences of my life."
Shumate later earned his M.B.A. from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., and currently resides in Stamford, Conn. with his wife Shana and twin boys Jackson and Chase.
"I chose to study at Wittenberg University because of its strong academic reputation and focus on supporting and developing students to become leaders," he said. "Through my classwork and extracurricular activities, Wittenberg gave me the opportunity to develop the critical skills to become the marketing leader I am today. I aspire to continue to develop leadership capabilities to one day be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company."
A proud alumnus, Shumate also has a few tips for current students:
- Take full advantage of the opportunities inside and outside (e.g. Union Board, Student Senate, etc.) of the university to develop the critical skills needed to succeed after graduation.
- Do the job that no one wants and make it into something that everyone will want when you're done.
- Don't follow the crowd; create your own path. There will be plenty of twists, turns, and bumps in the road but don't ever give up. There will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Believe in yourself, and you will make a difference.
- Negative thoughts come to every person. The key is don't verbalize them. Be positive or be quiet.
- Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you've ever been to stand up taller than you ever were.
- People with great passion can make the impossible happen.
- If someone offers you a ride on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat you're on, just get on it.
- You have to believe in yourself even when no one else does. That is what makes you a winner.