Mount Made: Leave it to the Prose
Alum Turns the Page in New Role at HarperCollins
When it comes to advertising the newest book titles and up-and-coming authors to readers around the globe, it’s best to leave it to the prose.
It’s a good thing Mount alum Richard “Rick” Garcia ’10 has set himself aside as one of those “pros,” having been hard at work as the Director of Digital Advertising at HarperCollins Publishers—one of the nation’s leading publishing companies—for the past year.
The second-largest consumer book publisher in the world, HarperCollins operates in 17 countries and publishes approximately 10,000 new books every year! With authors across dozens of genres, books published by HarperCollins have been winners of the Novel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, and the Man Booker Prize—just to name a few. And that just means Rick has his work cut out for him as he strives to support authors (and their books!) and advertise the latest titles to eager readers across the United States.
When asked to tell the story of how he became interested in the publishing field, Rick joked that “it’s a real page-turner!”
Rick crossed the commencement stage earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing. But, that wasn’t always the case…
“When I first began my studies at the Mount, I was dead-set on a career in finance,” Rick explained. “A group of friends and I packed our schedules with classes concentrating in finance. But, as I took more and more of them, I found that they weren’t as interesting as I thought they would be. In fact, they were quite boring!”
After coming to that realization, Rick pivoted his concentration to marketing—where his studies flourished. He later picked up a minor in communication to dive even deeper into advertising.
Throwback! For one of the business classes Rick added to his repertoire, Fashion Marketing, students were tasked with putting together a marketing campaign for fashion line. Here’s a photo from the campaign—recognize the view?!
“I finally felt as if I was able to flex more of my creative muscles. I don’t think I would have had the same opportunities if I stayed on the finance path.”
As for taking that final leap into advertising and media, Rick put it best: “My venture into publishing was serendipitous.”
Rick knew that an internship during his college days would be a great vehicle for him to test out a potential career path—and make sure his decision to leave his finance dreams behind was the right one. During his junior year at the Mount, he spoke with Associate Professor of Business and Economics Teresita Ramirez, who guided him to apply for a marketing internship with a public relations firm.
“The firm primarily supported book publishers with publicity radio tours, but the main focus of my internship was to work on some of their digital advertising projects,” mentioned Rick. “And during that time, many publishing houses had little to no experience in digital advertising.”
Through that internship, Rick discovered that he didn’t really find his niche in agency life, but he was intrigued by the publishing field—especially as e-books began to gain traction among readers. So, in his senior year, he decided to apply to yet another publishing internship—this time with American publishing giant Simon & Schuster.
And we think that was a novel idea.
At Simon & Schuster, Rick interned in the digital marketing department. From there on out, he fell in love with publishing.
“The people who work in publishing are great, and the work is fun. The more and more I learned about how the industry worked, the more I wanted to be a larger part of it.”
And, as they say, the rest is history…
Rick poses at his Commencement ceremony with fellow alum Kevin Garlan ’10 and Professor of English Dr. Sarah Stevenson.
Now that he’s successfully launched his career in publishing, Rick’s been working diligently to find the most ideal way to advertise the books on his assigned campaigns. At HarperCollins, Rick oversees the digital advertising operations for the company’s U.S. adult publishing imprints. Performing alongside his team, Rick collaborates with the publishing and sales teams to develop and execute advertising campaigns to support a wide-range of authors and their books.
Rick’s role also requires him to manage the company’s advertising analytics tools. He tracks and analyzes performance across all of HarperCollins’ advertising campaigns and uses the data to provide guidance on optimization tactics and best practices.
Additionally, he advises all North American divisions of HarperCollins on advertising technology initiatives. Just recently, he helped roll out HarperCollins’ first programmatic advertising operations process!
“One of my favorite parts about working in publishing is that no two days are ever the same because we work on so many different types of books! One day, I might be putting together a streaming television campaign for a best-selling author, while the next I could be working on a social media campaign for a debut author! It becomes an exciting puzzle to figure out each project and adjust as new details come to the forefront.”
When asked about the Mount’s impact on his career, Rick believes his education at the Right Place on the River shaped his outlook on his profession—but maybe not in the ways he originally expected.
He learned a lot both within and beyond the classroom, and describes each class he took as useful in its own way. Rick was also a member of the College’s Honors Program, which exposed him to fascinating integrated courses co-taught by some of the Mount’s esteemed faculty members.
“Those Honors classes helped mold the way I approach problem solving,” said Rick. “Because of their unique nature, I was forced to think outside the box.”
Ultimately, the internships he landed—thanks to the help of the faculty in the Department of Accounting, Business, and Economics—were an invaluable asset to his career path. His experiences as an intern exposed him to a world he probably never would have otherwise given a chance.
Now, that’s lit…erary.
Rick still keeps in touch with plenty of professors and friends from his days at the Mount, including Associate Professor Emeritus of Sociology Alfred D’Anca.
“Dr. D’Anca and I have a mutual friend who tried to teach us the guitar (emphasis on tried for me!),” chuckled Rick. “Dr. D’Anca was always supportive of my career—even though he wasn’t a business professor. He genuinely cared about each of his students and always did whatever he could to help me as I discerned my life after the Mount.”
And that’s not all:
“Attending the Mount afforded me the opportunity to take the classes I was interested in, pursue unforgettable internships, and participate in collegiate athletics as a member of the baseball team,” Rick affirmed. “The willingness of the faculty, administrators, staff, and even fellow students at the Mount to work with you to help you figure out how you can accomplish your goals is invaluable.”
Rick was also involved in several co-curricular activities on campus—including organizing the College’s Springfest 2009 with the band Cartel (left) and performing on stage at Mount Unplugged (right).
What do the next five years have in store for Rick?
“I enjoy what I do and I want to continue to do it for as long as I can. I still feel like I have a lot to learn about digital advertising and publishing. Regardless of what my role might be in the future, I want it to be one where I can continue to explore my interests and further experiment with my team to better advertise our authors and books.”
You can bookmark our words—Rick won’t stop at anything to continue to launch some of the best advertising campaigns in the history of HarperCollins! And we hope generations of future Dolphins will be inspired to take a page out of his book and pursue their passions.
Are you Mount Made? Do you know other alums carrying out the mission of the College? Let us know—we’d love to share how the College helped launch your career. Contact us to be featured!
About the College of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the College of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of professional accomplishment, service, and leadership in the 21st century.