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November 2012: Adam Konowe
1989 History, Politics, International Relations (1-Year American Study Abroad)
What am I doing now?
I serve as vice president of client strategy for TMP Government, implementing advertising and public relations tactics for a variety of aerospace clients. Also, I am an adjunct lecturer of communications at American University in Washington, DC.
How did you get to where you are now?
After Keele, I returned to the U.S. to complete my undergraduate degree, then a master’s. Seven years as a TV producer and director came next, followed by the past 13 years in advertising and PR.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
That’s actually a tough question, since in TV and PR one’s best work often goes completely unnoticed. But I think I’ve made the biggest difference helping aerospace companies of all sizes become better known for what they do best.
And your biggest mistake?
Letting differential equations get the better of me in university-level mathematics. Oh, and not returning to Keele for a postgraduate degree in business or management.
What are your ambitions now?
Helping current and prospective clients weather the challenging long-term economic climate by using paid and earned media more cost effectively than ever; also, trying to get my students to be critical thinkers and great writers in a complex media landscape.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
Learn as much as you can about the industry in which you work. Having a title like communications shouldn’t obviate you from thinking strategically. The more you know and perceive, the better counsel you can provide. And that adds value.
What made you choose Keele University?
I was looking for a modestly sized, highly residential university with a good balance of academics and extracurricular activities in order to make the most of my year abroad in the UK. Keele fit that description perfectly.
What kind of a student were you?
Not bad. I’ve always enjoyed writing and my lecturers at Keele provided excellent feedback that continues paying dividends to this day.
How has Keele influenced your life?
Despite visiting the UK numerous times before and after my year at Keele, I will always appreciate the diverse perspectives of the university’s faculty, staff and students. Their opinions and experiences helped me see the world a bit differently and I hope that wisdom informs decisions I make to this day.
What is your favourite memory of Keele?
As an experienced theatre technician, I remember enthusiastically seeking out the Drama Society at Freshers’ Fair to hear what great British work would be first up in the fall term, only to be told that it was “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas!” Despite this unexpected turn of events (especially for a Yankee from New York), I signed on as stage manager, one of a few Drama Soc shows I worked on that year, back when the Walter Moberly Building was a theatre. Clubs are an ideal way to meet fellow students on campus. In fact, I am still in touch with my best friend from Keele who I met through the Drama Soc. He and I ended up in the same industry and I even had the honour to serve as his best man. Off campus, I had the chance to go on BBC Radio Stoke to talk about the 1988 U.S. election from an American student’s point of view.
What is your impression of Keele now?
I had the pleasure of delivering a few guest lectures there about two ago and really enjoyed the opportunity to return. In addition to meeting undergraduate and postgraduate students in the classroom, I also conducted a stage combat workshop in K2 for current Drama Soc members, something I'd gladly repeat (especially as a newly anointed life member of the society). John Easom even arranged for me to visit my old dorm room, Horwood B9, which was fun albeit slightly surreal, given that more than 20 years had passed. While most of the central campus is familiar, there have been major changes elsewhere including a new main entrance, medical school and halls of residence. Since unfortunately I don’t get back often, I keep up with Keele though the alumni office and am impressed with how the university continually evolves to meet the challenges of higher education in a constrained budgetary environment.
Anything else you would like to add?
Although I was only at Keele for one year, 1988-89, it was still a formative time in my life. My memories are overwhelmingly positive, so I hope current and future students will look back just as fondly and support their alma mater in whatever manner best suits them.
Note: Adam was elected President of the Keele in the USA Foundation, Inc - a network of Keele alumni in the USA - in 2016.