4 Nov
2013
Posted in: Careers, Profiles
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10 more questions with Andrew Hermalyn, EVP/GM of Semester Online

This Q&A is part of an ongoing series on my blog. What’s the criteria, you ask? I think you’re cool and want to ask you questions. We first got to know Andrew in his original appearance on ericajmoss.com, but I decided to bring him back for another edition because, y’all, we have a lot to learn from him.

PROFESSIONAL

At Lehigh University, you majored in sociology — what made you choose that path?

I began my college experience in the College of Business and Economics. Part of the reason why I loved Lehigh was my ability to take courses in different areas outside of my regular business courses. I took courses that I knew would take me out of my comfort zone: Sociology of Education, Race and Class, Media Ethics, and Environmental Studies.

I became a sociology major after taking several courses and was challenged and energized by the small-class discussions. These classes taught me how to make a cohesive argument stand by my opinion, and defend that argument or opinion. I switched to the College of Arts and Sciences during my sophomore year and it was one of the best decisions I made.

Sociology is all about people and how they behave. My sociology degree taught me how to think broadly and conceptually and was a great base to overlay more specific knowledge relative to business.

Since we last chatted, you transitioned to EVP/GM of Semester Online. What does your new role look like?

I moved from a sales and business development focused role into an operational one overseeing our undergraduate program, Semester Online. The role is exhilarating. Every day is something new, exciting, and challenging.

What excites you the most about Semester Online?

The students and the lives this program will help change.

What type of student might be interested in taking a course (or four) through Semester Online?

The student that wants to remain on-campus and take a course in an area that their school might not offer (ex. Baseball or Shakespeare and Film). Or, perhaps the on-campus course they want to take is oversubscribed and Semester Online offers it. The second type of student is the one who wants to take a full semester off-campus and travel, or work and pursue an internship, or deal with a personal issue, but remain on track for graduation by taking three or four courses.

What type of feedback have you been getting from students in this inaugural cohort?

The workload is hard and in some cases more rigorous than their on-campus courses. Semester Online courses are very high quality and are being taught by world-class professors at some of the best schools in the world.

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PERSONAL

You are the most detail-oriented person I know. How has this benefited you in your career, and what tips do you have for perfecting this skill?

Attention to detail is something I learned at a very young age. My parents are both educators and taught me the importance of checking all your work, spell checking everything, not rushing and overlooking something, and staying focused. I care a lot about the small things and will make sure those I work with know that. It is rare that I miss anything because of this trait and it has certainly helped me throughout my career.

As for perfecting this skill, push aside any pressures you have at work and make sure that everything you are doing is your best quality. It is important to focus on the fact that each person’s individual work and effort represents who he or she is as a professional.

Many people have a hard time talking to strangers. But you will often recognize people in public (CEOs and the like), approach them and introduce yourself. Where do you think that no-fear attitude comes from, and who’s the most exciting person you’ve run into?

Life is short. Take full advantage of it. My ability to say hi to people and introduce myself comes from having confidence and, as you say, a no-fear attitude. What’s the worst that can happen? As for the most exciting person I’ve run into… I am more than happy to share these stories but not in writing!

A little birdie told me you had an affinity for service hats as a child. Tell us everything.

I liked to dress-up (and still do!) I would be a fireman, police officer, chef, or my favorite — a NYC doorman. All of these outfits had great hats associated with them, which I still have today. My parents have always commented on my enthusiasm as a child. They were challenged by my wanting to do everything well, so I had to have the right hats!

What was your first entrepreneurial venture, and how did it turn out?

At age 9, I started a wiffle ball league in my backyard. Friends would come over on weekends to play. There were very small dues involved and we had board meetings. The board was my family and my grandmother took the minutes. I gave her the title of Executive Administrative Assistant. I was the Chairman of the Board.

Who is one person you’d be completely star-struck to meet and why?

James Taylor. Listening to his music, wherever I may be, puts me in a relaxing and stress-free mindset. It would be great to tell him this in-person.

How can people connect with you, both personally and professionally?

Email is best (). I also try to stay active on Twitter (@andrewhermalyn).