Professor John Keane: Building Strong Connections Is A Top Priority
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Not many people can say they have lived in Manhattan for over 30 years, start and finish their career there, and raise a child. For John, choosing to reside in NYC is one of the most unique experiences of his life. I was fortunate to meet this most sincere and honest human in my first year teaching at LIM College. He is so favored by everyone at the school, that the first time I heard his name come up was from one student telling another student to take his class because he was the nicest teacher ever. His long career in the media industry intrigued me because he was able to work with some of the most coveted magazines, at a time when readers consumed and cherished any type of content published in a glossy. He talks about how teaching allows him to give students the knowledge and skills they need to thrive and succeed in the challenge of today's working environment.
One of the most extraordinary things I have experienced living in New York was an art installation in Central Park called “The Gates” in February 2005. It was created by the artists Christo Yavacheff and Jeane-Claude and consisted of about 7,500 fabric panels along 23 miles of pathways in Central Park. It looked like a golden river appearing and disappearing through the bare branches of the trees; magically transforming the park and attracting an incredible number of visitors from all different age groups.
Tell me a little bit about your background and how you ended up teaching in higher education.
I studied marketing at Georgetown University in Washington DC and was specifically interested in advertising and media. I worked in a small market research firm right out of college and went for my MBA at night at St. John’s University in NYC. After graduating I was hired into the corporate training program at Time Inc. and assigned to the marketing department at People Magazine.
I had a great experience at Time Inc. which led to my being hired as the Marketing Director of GQ Magazine at Conde Nast, where I spent the next 15 years of my career. After that I moved into more of an international role running the corporate marketing and strategy for the Bauer Media Group, which has about 600 magazines in 17 countries. This led in turn to my current consulting position as Director of Research and Insights at The Internationalist, an organization which promotes best practices in international marketing and advertising.
During my corporate career, I often guest spoke at classes where friends of mine were teaching, at schools such as NYU, St. John’s, Baruch, FIT, LIM College and others. I always enjoyed the experience and thought that I’d love to have the opportunity to teach at some point. I finally jumped in about 5 years ago when I was hired as an Adjunct Faculty member at LIM College.
What is it like to work in the media industry?
I spent over thirty-years in the magazine publishing industry on the advertising side of the equation and was witness to a sea-change in the way in which consumers digest content. I’ve worked on both weekly and monthly magazines, and the reader would need to wait until the next issue of the magazine was published to continue their relationship with the brand. Now, everything is instantaneous, and consumers expect to be able to access content when and where they want it.
An interesting dynamic has also occurred in the digital arena, where consumer expectation is that everything should be free – magazines and media in general were slow to require consumer to pay for content (via paywalls etc.) which has led to difficulties in monetizing the digital space.
You are a native New Yorker. What does the city do for you as a person that no other city can offer? How has NYC shaped you as an individual and what is it like raising a child there?
I actually grew up about an hour outside of NYC in the suburban town of Huntington, Long Island. I spent a lot of time (and money) on the Long Island Rail Road, coming into NYC every chance I had to see Broadway shows, watch the Knicks play at Madison Square Garden, etc. – I always really loved the city and wanted to live there someday – and I have been a NYC resident for over 35 years now.
New York is not necessarily right for everyone but I find it to be an extraordinary place to live and work. My wife and I raised our daughter here and she had the opportunity to be exposed to music, art, theater, culture from a very young age. I think growing up in a diverse, multi-cultural city like New York truly gives one a worldly perspective.
You are now a full-time lecturer at LIM. What does this school bring to students that is unique and special?
I think it’s right there in the LIM value proposition: “LIM College: Where Business Meets Fashion” Students learn the business side of the fashion industry; many of our faculty members are industry practitioners and can supply the students with “real world” examples of how these principles play out in a typical business setting. One specific thing I particularly appreciate as an instructor here are the small class sizes – I really get to know my students personally and get a real solid understanding of their ultimate career goals and how I can help them to achieve them. This is an exciting time at LIM Center for Graduate Studies. In addition to our current MPS Programs in Fashion Marketing, Fashion Merchandising And Retail Management, Supply Chain Management and the Business of Fashion, we are introducing an MS in Consumer Analytics scheduled for Fall 2019.
What is your view on higher education and the difference of students today vs. years ago. Is it all worth it?
Certainly the way students learn today is far different from years ago, where the professor lectured and the students took notes. Now it’s really essential to engage students with interactive activities, class discussions, group projects etc. as a complement to any content lecturing. The impact of technology is also important, both as a positive and a negative influence in the classroom. The different modalities available to students today (face-to-face, online, hybrid, MOOC’s etc.) is a plus and students can essentially customize the higher education experience which works best for them.
Do you have a teaching philosophy?
My own teaching philosophy is to attempt to marry theory and practice; to provide the students the underlying principles they need as well as to give them actual examples of how these principles play out in the work place. My other overarching philosophy is in terms of my ongoing relationship with my students – I encourage them to stay in touch with me, connect with me and use me as a resource for advice and support throughout their career, long after the specific class has concluded.
What do you want students to gain from you as a teacher when they leave your class and move on to start their careers?
I would hope that in addition to the basic knowledge and content of the class, that they would also walk away with a general sense of how to comport yourself in business environment and to build and sustain a successful career: namely, be professional.