Karolina Kocalevski, MBA ’08 (E), director and marketing lead of transaction services for PwC
Making a Marketing Impact
A little over nine years ago, Karolina Kocalevski was working in publishing in Australia, having transitioned seven years prior from what she calls “a very prescriptive job” in accounting. Fast forward to today, and the Australian-born Johnson alumna is doing the creative, challenging, and rewarding work she has always wanted to do, as the director and marketing lead of transaction services at PwC LLP, the US firm of the worldwide PricewaterhouseCoopers organization.
Transitioning from accounting to publishing, and eventually “finding the courage to dive into marketing,” Kocalevski moved to New York to pursue her career. Her first move, Kocalevski says, was to get an MBA, enrolling in Johnson’s Executive MBA program — a decision she’s very happy she made.
In the second year of her MBA especially, Kocalevski focused heavily on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and corporate strategy, she explains. This helped her gain a level of confidence and insight into business that she would not otherwise have had.
“Two months before graduating from the Johnson School,” Kocalevski recalls, “I left my marketing role for a new marketing role [at PwC], and doubled my salary.” Within three years, Kocalevski was promoted to her current role as a director at PwC, a network of firms that provide industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services.
Kocalevski leads the marketing for PwC’s M&A and deals departments, and works closely with the company’s public relations department to get media placements pertaining to specific M&A issues. Her job is focused on leveraging opportunities for top-line revenue growth, creating brand distinction in the market, and generating broad awareness of the services offered as well as opportunities for partners to build relationships with key prospects.
Kocalevski manages a small team and develops integrated marketing programs, including monthly e-newsletters and webcasts on key M&A issues that support PwC’s business priorities. “This year, I re-vamped and re-launched our external website and I am also working on a new, online, digital-display campaign that will bring our target audience back to our thought leadership or webcast archives for insight on key M&A issues,” Kocalevski says.
For Kocalevski, the best part of working for PwC is her coworkers’ level of sophistication.. “I love how smart everyone is around me,” she says. “I get smarter by osmosis. It’s also such a high-performance environment that I need to be on my game constantly. You can’t get lazy for a second in an environment like that, and while it can get a little exhausting, it’s also exhilarating, and makes you get better and better.”
Although she admits that sometimes there just “aren’t enough hours in the day,” Kocalevski enjoys the challenging work, especially because it gives her the opportunity to make an impact. “Being able to make a difference, day in day out — to people individually and to the firm’s brand — is probably the most rewarding part,” she says.
Earlier this year, Kocalevski was named a Cambridge Who’s Who Professional of the Year in Marketing, an honor that Kocalevksi says was humbling. “I was honored that they would single me out, given the extent of talent in this country. I was really flattered that they were impressed enough that they actually chose me for this year’s award.” Plus, she adds, “ My Australian friends were certainly impressed when they Googled me.”
Although it’s only been about four years since Kocalevski received her MBA, she says she has come a very long way from the person she was then. “I went from corporate single girl to family girl not long after I completed the MBA program,” says Kocalevski, who is now married and mother to a toddler. A passionate real-estate investor and “a bit of a closet architect,” Kocalevski spends her free time renovating properties and shopping for fixtures and furniture with her husband. “It’s a great outlet for unleashing my creativity around interior design,” she says, “But my husband just thinks it’s my excuse to be constantly shopping.”
Maria Minsker ’13 is an intern in Marketing and Communications at Johnson.