Joseph “Joe” J. Cronin, Jr., BA’67

We often hear stories of how a strong work ethic and sky-high ambition can propel an aspiring young professional from the confines of the mailroom up the corporate ladder, but in the case of Joe Cronin, BA’67, that’s exactly how it all started. Cronin knew from an early age that in order to afford college, he needed to take advantage of alternative work-study opportunities offered through Northeastern’s co-op program.

“Leaving school with debt was not an option for me,” he explains. “The co-op program would allow me the opportunity to pay off school as I went along.”

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Cronin’s first co-op was working in the classifieds section at The Boston Globe. “I was the only male among 60 women!” he laughs. But beyond that, he explains, “Every day I was able to witness the daily operations of a large publication. That was life-changing.”

Continuing his marketing studies, Cronin landed a second co-op position in the mailroom of advertising giant Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborne, Inc. (BBDO), whose client list includes PepsiCo, FedEx, General Electric, and Campbell’s. His days were spent sorting mail and delivering packages, but his dedication and perseverance quickly got him noticed. Cronin was asked to assist in company presentations and other tasks, which took him from behind the scenes to the front lines of the fast-paced advertising business. “I wore a suit every day, so if I was pulled into meetings or luncheons, I was ready,” he recalls.

Soon, Cronin was interacting directly with clients and executives on a regular basis, eventually landing a plum assignment with BBDO’s top manufacturing client William Carter Company (Carter’s Children Clothes). He spent several months at the client’s headquarters, immersing himself in the mills and plants—a monumental promotion that would win him the Northeastern Co-op Award.

After graduation, Cronin went on to receive his MBA from Michigan State University. “I felt like I was more prepared than most for that curriculum,” he says. “I’d been in the field; I had experience attending meetings, working on cases, and alongside mentors. My co-ops were instrumental in building my confidence and providing me with an all-access pass to the behind-the-scenes workings of corporate America.”

Currently the Chief Executive Officer of DDB Miami, a branch of DDB Worldwide Communications Group, Inc. and Omnicom Group, Inc., Cronin has held executive positions with Chrysler, Kenyon Eckhardt, and Saatchi & Saatchi (1984-2001) where he served as vice chairman and helped build the agency into a global network. He’s also taught several international advertising and marketing classes at his alma mater, and advises current and future Huskies to “go global.”

“Explore international co-op programs whenever they’re available,” he says. “It is the world we live in today. Study abroad to prepare for the modern-day west.”