CEO, PAVERART Enterprises, LLC
After high school, Mark Olivito, DMSB’97, wasn’t excited about his future prospects, until a chance meeting with a recruiter sparked an interest in Northeastern. Intrigued by the co-op program, Mark applied and was accepted to Northeastern, where the robust entrepreneurial environment pushed him to stretch his limits, and discover his true potential.
How did your Northeastern experience impact you professionally?
Tremendously! During my time at Northeastern, I completed four, 6-month co-ops at Kraft Foods (two in Chicago, one in New Jersey, and one in Boston), which led to an offer to join the company as an account manager upon graduation; that was the start of 23+ years in the consumer products industry. The co-op program provided built-in motivation for me to work extremely hard academically, and become more goal-oriented. That, coupled with the network at Northeastern, was my recipe for success. Without those foundational skills that I learned through my co-op, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
How do you stay ahead the curve?
Reading, networking, and continuing to push the envelope. I started a leadership blog (www.hustleorbust.com) in 2012 to “get up to speed” with the world of digital marketing, and it has become a venue for sharing insights on career management, leadership, and innovation. I have also learned a lot from volunteering, board participation, and mentoring. I’ve served on non-profit boards and formal mentoring programs, and am also a volunteer teacher at the Junior Achievement youth organization. Simply being an entrepreneur and managing risk and opportunities, is a constant incentive to do better.
One piece of advice for someone starting at Northeastern.
Leave it all on the field. Your time at Northeastern is a unique opportunity to build a rock solid foundation, so use as many waking hours as possible to learn, take advantage of campus resources, participate in clubs, and work extremely hard to make a real difference in your co-op assignments. You should be very tired (in a good way) by the time you graduate, but energized at the same time. Have some fun, but take it seriously, and it will pay massive dividends.
Your favorite professor or class and why?
Professor Elizabeth Chilvers, Associate Professor and Director of International Finance Co-op, D’Amore-McKim School of Business, was my co-op coordinator, and I think of her often to this day. I was not a great student in high school, but I knew I wanted to do the early freshman co-op from June-December. I visited her at the start of freshman year, and she “scared me straight!” She said, “Don’t think about it without a 3.0+ GPA,” and from that point on, I got to work. I always remember her smile when I would visit, and she always took time to say hello.
What’s next for you?
I acquired a food manufacturing company in 2014, took over as CEO, and had a successful merger in late 2017, capping off my dream of business ownership at the age of 40-44. Since then, I’ve acquired a new business, PAVERART, outside of the world of consumer packaged goods, but I feel confident that the skills I learned at Northeastern will be transferable. I hope to continue to give back and make a positive impact on people, both in the businesses I own, and beyond.