In The Classroom – VML Founder Scott A. McCormick

Students Chad Kirkland, Tom Farinacci and Erin Smalley with Scott McCormick (center) and Executive In Residence Don Huntington (right).

By Jalene Brandom — Advanced Seminar in Business, led by Executive In Residence Donald Huntington, is a junior-senior level class for high achieving business students that features guest lectures by distinguished business and civic leaders.  On March 29, 2011 Mr. Scott McCormick, Founder and Chief Vision Officer of VML Incorporated, addressed the class and led a discussion on the subject of entrepreneurship.

McCormick’s father and uncles were entrepreneurs and McCormick believes entrepreneurship is in his blood as well.  He said, “Some people have a strong desire to decide their own destiny.”  McCormick’s desire to do something different is what ultimately led to the creation of VML Incorporated, an international marketing communications firm headquartered in Kansas City.

VML was a culmination of 18 years in the business and observing trends and practices that McCormick did not believe were sustainable.  He and partners John Valentine and Craig Ligibel were convinced they could create a better alternative to the traditional agency model of the time.  McCormick said, “I hated that agencies were comprised of pods which needed revenue and provided clients with what they had rather than what the client needed.”

McCormick and partners believed strongly that clients would respond positively to fresh thinking, greater efficiency (less overhead), and speed-to-market.  McCormick believed VML could establish a unique presence by developing expertise in Internet-based and other forms of digital communication.

VML was in the vanguard of digital marketing communications and this ultimately positioned it to become a recognized leader in the discipline.  Today, VML is recognized (by Gartner and others) as one of the leading digital communications agencies in the world.

McCormick believes it is important to continue to pass knowledge to future generations, which is one of the reasons why he enjoys speaking to students.  He says, “It’s invigorating to hear what the next generation of leaders is thinking and it forces me to distill my own thoughts and see things from a more youthful perspective.”

Students enjoy listening to what McCormick has to say.  Chad Kirkland, a member of the Advanced Seminar in Business said, “Mr. McCormick’s entrepreneurial knowledge and experience were extremely enlightening and enjoyable.  I found that his ability to describe his personal experiences and to convey entrepreneurial lessons from those experiences was insightful and valuable.”

Another student, Erin Smalley, said, “Scott McCormick is a perfect example of a real-world entrepreneur.  His methods for creating a successful company are efficient and powerful, and the energy and passion he has for his work is both inspiring and contagious.”

McCormick also brings his energy and passion into volunteer work with Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).  In 2008 McCormick was recognized as International Volunteer of the Year for his involvement with JDRF.  He is passionate about the work JDRF performs in developing advanced treatments and working toward a cure for diabetes.  He particularly enjoys volunteering with JDRF because 85 percent of all funds raised go directly to research.

In his spare time, McCormick enjoys learning new technology.  He also enjoys music and performing in a band.  Another activity McCormick enjoys is riding his motorcycle; he and several of his friends ride through Europe every couple of years.

Scott McCormick is an inspirational leader in his profession, in the community and volunteer world, and in his personal life.  His willingness to share his knowledge and experience with Jewell Business students is a valuable contribution to the department’s experiential learning component.

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