Alumni Spotlight: Carey Chesney

by Geoff Larcom

Carey Chesney sees the big picture and knows how to produce huge results.

For more than 10 years, he has been leading the integrated marketing communications efforts for large-scale non-profit institution projects in southeastern Michigan.

Carey Chesney

Carey Chesney

Those efforts include his current role as vice president of marketing and community relations for the University of Michigan Credit Union, where he leads the integrated marketing (advertising, branding, internal communications, media relations) for a $600 million, 60-year-old financial institution headquartered in Ann Arbor.

Before that, Chesney served as director of marketing for the Office of University Development at U-M, where he was responsible for the creation and implementation of marketing and branding efforts for the university's recently launched $4 billion Victors for Michigan campaign.

Throughout his career, he has shown a powerful interest in innovative approaches, measured results and forging a strong connection between institutions and their brands.

Such a passion led Chesney—amid an active career and family life—to recently earn a master's in integrated marketing communications from Eastern Michigan University. He used the lessons and perspective he gained to help broaden his already impressive skill set.

He heard about the EMU–Online graduate program from a colleague at the U-M Health System Marketing Department, who was, like Chesney, a working parent. She raved about how applicable the courses were to her daily work and how convenient the online program was to her schedule.

Chesney found everything she said to be true, finding wide application for the mid-career experience in his new job with the U-M Credit Union.

"The EMU IMC program was critical in honing my ability to see the big picture on how various areas (in marketing) combine to create a unified voice for a well-established, well-respected local Ann Arbor brand," he said. "As the only credit union headquartered in Ann Arbor, a town of fervent locavores, I feel this organization has a unique and compelling brand story to tell the community we serve. I'm excited to be part of telling that story."

"Beyond Ann Arbor, our recent merger with EMU Financial as well as FCCU (Family Community Credit Union) in Flint means we have the opportunity to tell our story to a continuously growing audience."

Among Chesney's favorite and memorable experiences in the EMU IMC program was his team's third place finish in the ECHO Challenge, a direct marketing competition that matches students from around the world.

Chesney and his team worked with a real client, Domino's, to create an integrated marketing campaign using all direct and interactive communication channels, including Domino's-owned and earned media channels; social media, e-mail, website and print, with a goal of increasing the number of orders driven through Domino's mobile app.

"The ECHO Challenge was really fun and fulfilling," Chesney says now. "Having a real client to work with and a professor (Matt Sauber) who was really committed to our success laid the right foundation. Building on that, I was fortunate to have a really talented to work with, which resulted in our top three ranking in the contest."

Equally impressive was how Chesney was able to manage time between his busy professional and home responsibilities and an accelerated graduate degree program.

"I'm not going to act like it was a walk in the park, but a lot of worthwhile things aren't," he says. "That said, the flexibility of the online program was critical. After working all day and getting a little family time in, I could just lock myself in the basement office and get everything done in big blocks of time. Between that and the weekends, I was able to get it done without a huge impact on my family or work life."

Chesney says with a chuckle that his consumption of TV suffered, but that was probably a good thing.

Interestingly, Chesney found that strong personal or professional connections can arise out of an online program.

One of Chesney's teammates from the ECHO Challenge, Jamie LaRose, was someone he often partnered with for class projects all in cyberspace. "We finally got to meet in person when he came for graduation which was really cool," Chesney says. "As it turns out, Jamie does marketing for Wells Fargo, so he has become an awesome resource for me as I entered the financial services industry for the first time as well."

Chesney's advice for anyone considering the challenge and time commitment of the I.M.C. program at Eastern Michigan University?

"Do it," he says. "Just do it. You won't regret it."