A Senior Marketing Executive Shares All the Ways He Stays Involved with Stern

Arnold Sookram (MBA ’97) on how Stern taught him the importance of keeping an open mind and nurturing your relationships
Arnold Sookram (MBA ’97)

Arnold Sookram (MBA ’97), a marketing executive in the media and entertainment industry, talks about how Stern changed his career trajectory, leading him to a career on the West Coast, and why he's excited to be part of the School's new Exectuive-in-Residence program.



When you think about the influence that a Stern MBA can have on your life, Arnold Sookram sums it up. “Stern had a huge impact on my career,” said Sookram, senior director of marketing at DIRECTV. “I came for the finance program and ended up pivoting to management consulting, starting at PwC right after Stern. It couldn’t have been a better move.” 


A New Jersey native, Sookram joined Stern’s Part-time MBA program two years after his undergraduate degree from Boston College while working in finance at Prudential. “You learn so much in consulting; how to think critically and how to use data to tell a story. It’s a great launching pad. I advise students that they should consider a career in consulting for that reason, and Stern helped me get there,” said Sookram.


And Sookram has had plenty of chances to share his career wisdom and industry insights with students. Over the last few years, he has become a highly engaged alum. He started hosting tech treks and invited Stern MBAs to visit Starbucks, where he worked in e-commerce and digital experiences. 


Connecting with students
Because his current job takes him to Los Angeles, he connected with NYU LA and was invited to moderate a panel as part of a conference about the media, the entertainment industry, and diversity. “I was flattered and honored to do that. It was a lot of fun,” said Sookram. Now that many more Stern alumni are on the West Coast working for tech companies like Amazon, he’s noticed an increase in the volume of events and the number of alumni who come out. “It’s been great, and a big increase compared to 20 years ago,” he said. 


Now, Sookram is part of the Executive-in-Residence program run out of the corporate relations office at NYU Stern. A roster of executives across industries come to campus a couple of times a year to meet with students and share their experiences. “The program puts you on the front lines with students, and I really love connecting with them as they figure out what their next step is going to be,” said Sookram.


Sookram is a big believer in mentorship and stayed in touch with a few of his professors. 


“At Stern, I learned to nourish my relationships. I remember Robert Lamb, a professor of management and organizations, made a big impression and made me think more broadly about management consulting. I also stayed in touch with John Czepiel, professor of marketing strategy, and I still refer to his textbook.”

In his marketing role at DIRECTV, Sookram is tasked with developing the acquisition strategy and positioning the value proposition for specific audiences. According to Sookram, there’s a market for premium live TV despite the plethora of at-home content options. When asked what he thinks about the potential of AI in marketing, he was pragmatic. “AI is a tool. First, you have to define your objectives and desired outcomes and then consider how AI can help you achieve those goals. It’s one of many tools to choose from.” 


When he’s not thinking about strategy and marketing, he enjoys the lifestyle that Seattle offers, which he has called home for the last 20 years ever since he moved for a job at AT&T Wireless.


A love for the outdoors
“I love to hike and explore this vast area,” said Sookram. “When you live in the northeast, you can feel hemmed in. But here, you can get in your car, and there’s endless opportunity for exploration.”


Arnold Sookram (MBA ’97) hiking

Anrnold Sookram (MBA '97) on top of Conic Hill during the West Highland Way walk in April 2023 with an amazing view of Loch Lomond


Earlier this year, he took his love of the outdoors to Scotland, where he hiked the West Highland Way. Now, he’s planning a trip to the Spanish side of the Pyrenees to hike part of the GR11, a multi-day alpine trek.


Being able to easily get out into nature is what he considers the biggest difference between the Northeast and West Coast. He sums it up this way: “I have a very robust outdoor jacket collection. Several fleeces. NYC is a one-fleece kind of place.”