“You need to learn to ‘sell’ yourself and to be comfortable with that.” As director of Social Media Services at Marriott International, TCNJ alumna Sandra Pimentel has had a career in social media that has now spanned 10 years working on constructing the infrastructure of large enterprises. Some of her responsibilities include “building out training and policies, standing up technology to manage social media capabilities such as content creation, advertising, and customer service.” Pimentel said, “it all takes a lot of work, particularly for legacy companies such as AIG and Marriott. It’s like steering a ship. You can’t make a sudden turn.”
Pimentel studied international business at TCNJ and graduated in 2006. She was involved with the Student Government Association, Union Latina, worked as a Student Center manager, and fundraised for the TCNJ Fund.
After a conversation with Dr. Bozena Leven in an economics course, Pimentel became inspired to consider how to learn to ‘sell’ yourself, whether in interviews, presentations, or certifications. “I remember being two courses shy of completing a double major in international business and economics and asking for [Leven’s] feedback. She asked, ‘that’s fine, but ultimately how will you ‘sell’ your double major in economics? What will you do with that double major other than it be listed on a paper as a degree?’” Pimentel said, “you are constantly selling something, whether it’s a product or a vision or yourself.”
When she was at TCNJ, Pimentel was concerned about finding a balance between making a living and also loving her work when it came to a career. “When an opportunity came to interview at an insurance company, I wasn’t excited about it, even though it was paying three times as much as my ‘exciting’ on-paper job at a fashion house,” said Pimentel. She ultimately decided to take the job and spent an incredible six years at the insurance company. “Although I do feel you need to be passionate about some area of your career, whether it’s the industry or the skillset, it’s the relationships and skills that matter,” said Pimentel.
Pimentel went on to receive a master’s of science degree from New York University in integrated marketing with a focus on digital and analytics. She began her career at AIG (American International Group), and she volunteered to lead the implementation of new technology (Salesforce) for her team. Inspired by the ‘newness’ of her field, Pimentel said, “I ultimately evolved with the technology, growing as the industry grew and opportunities opened up along the way.” This leads to her advice about building expertise; “I’d recommend getting good at ‘something.’ Be a subject matter expert, be someone people rely on for expertise.”
Pimentel’s current schedule has been busy even amidst Covid-19. “This career has allowed me to work from anywhere, so with Covid and lockdown, we just continued business as usual working to find ways where social media could aid in recovery effort,” said Pimentel. There is also a new tech friendliness with virtual meetings offerings and running meetings. “Overall, we will all come out of this pandemic stronger, but the big lesson is that we need to be flexible and be quick to adapt.” She added that social media has become more of a focus during Covid, considering its low cost and cuts in marketing budgets.
Commenting on her role in the hospitality industry, Pimentel expressed how “there were certainly a lot of adjustments, not only at individual hotels with things such as wearing masks on property or limiting the number of people that can use the pool or the gym or enter an elevator at one time, but also in corporate marketing strategy, product offerings, and how we engage with each other as colleagues, embracing remote work.”
She described some examples of how they adjusted their marketing strategy: launching Marriott’s #DearTravel campaign in the second quarter of 2020 to trigger nostalgia of travel and build awareness for our brands as opposed to focusing on driving bookings, as well as quickly developing Marriott’s Work from Anywhere product, offering hotel rooms as office space, and encouraging a blend of work and play.
Aside from travel and her social media interests, Pimentel’s hobbies include cycling, yoga, speaking four languages, and playing with her children at home in New Jersey.
Words of advice: “Consider your time in college and jobs you eventually take on as a journey to learn about yourself. The purpose is to grow as a human being; to discover what you’re good at, what you love to do, and what you dislike, and that will change over time. Even if you think you know what you want to do now, after 10 years of doing something, you may not love it as much, and you have to be ok and expect that will happen and learn to pivot.”