Winter 2021–2022

Office Hours: Motivating Action Through Marketing

Portrait photo of Gary Ottley

Gary Ottley MBA’97 feels strongly about the power of marketing. Before arriving at Babson College as an instructor in 2008, he worked for 11 years as a marketing consultant for three firms, and he currently teaches core marketing courses to graduate students.

“I would argue that marketing as a discipline has more power than almost any other business discipline in terms of what it does and what it can do,” the senior lecturer says. “It’s the part of business that convinces people to change their behaviors and has the power to move things from Point A to Point B.”

Ottley’s doctoral work examined the marketing strategies of companies committed to the principles of “conscious capitalism,” and he is convinced that business can and should play a role in addressing complex issues such as income inequality, climate change, and all types of reform. “The very term ‘reform’ implies a change—in behaviors, in attitudes, in actions,” Ottley says. “Marketing has always played a role in all of those changes and phenomena.”

A popular instructor known for animated lectures and a deep voice that carries hints of his childhood in Trinidad and Tobago, Ottley recently received the Dean’s Graduate Teaching Award for his work with students in the full-time, part-time, and blended MBA programs. “If you are in a graduate program at Babson, there is a likely chance that you’ll be in one of my classes at one point or another,” he says. Ottley also teaches undergraduates periodically and has developed and delivered executive education programs.

He recently served on a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) taskforce, convened early in 2021 to advise the Graduate Academic Policy Committee on ways to advance DE&I initiatives in the graduate school. Increasing the diversity of races, cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives is one of Babson’s critical objectives. In the course of taskforce discussions, Ottley says, he brought up the structural barriers that might prevent students from both enrolling and thriving at Babson, such as income inequality or the challenges faced by international students trying to obtain student visas.

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One of the College’s major initiatives was the creation of the Inclusive Teaching Training Program for faculty members, and Ottley says he’s heartened to see the Babson community taking efforts seriously—and taking action. Making an effort to attract and support students and faculty members from marginalized groups will only strengthen Babson’s programs, Ottley stresses.

“We teach students how to make decisions, and to try to get the best out of those decisions,” he says. “That’s what entrepreneurship is all about. The more and better perspectives you get into that decision-making process, the better your decisions are going to be.”

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