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How This Olympic Athlete Went from the Fox School to the C-Suite

June 4, 2018 //

“There’s nothing more stressful than waiting to hear ‘Go’ at the start of an Olympic final,” says Michael Moore, BBA ’93. “I’m not afraid of any experience I’ve had in business as a result of that moment.”

Moore is recalling the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, where he competed with the United States crew team. He didn’t return home with a medal, but it was a singularly powerful experience. The Philadelphia native was a Temple University student (and a member of the school’s rowing team) at the time. He took one year off from earning his degree at the Fox School to train for the competition.

“It was an amazing summer,” says Moore. “We went to Europe and did the European race circuit, traveling to Belgium, Holland, and France. Then we went on to Barcelona.”

Then it was back to business school, where Moore studied marketing. After earning his degree from the Fox School, he went on to an MBA program at George Washington University, where he had two internships. One was with the Walt Disney Group and the other was with AOL. The latter shaped his future.

“The ideal internship is getting under the hood of a company and learning about it; AOL was the ideal internship,” says Moore. “Back then, AOL was still ramping up. The internet was around, but it wasn’t pervasive. I walked around the halls of AOL and engaged with the senior executives—and these were the executives—and documented what it took to build, launch, and package an AOL service. After that, there was only one thing I wanted to do, and that was be involved in the new, digital track that was then emerging.”

Michael Moore at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

Soon after completing his MBA, he found the perfect intersection of tech and marketing when he returned to AOL as director of interactive marketing. He soon after moved to Europe to work with AOL for a one year project, but he stayed in London for 12 years.

Before leaving AOL, Moore held executive director and vice president positions. His next career move was working with Telegraph Media Group, where he helped the British company that owns popular newspapers The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph transition and expand its digital landscape. His last job in Europe was as the global commercial director for Phorm, a behavioral advertising firm. Moore then returned to the U.S.

In 2013, after a brief stint as CEO of flash commerce business kgb in New York City, Moore moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, to work with WillowTree Inc. He is a co-owner and chief commercial officer (CCO) of the digital agency, which does mobile development and strategy, web and app development, and more. Their client list includes Pepsi, GE, Time Warner, Johnson and Johnson, and Nestle.

“I’m constantly engaging with our clients, our user experience strategy group, our architects, our analytics and insights teams, and so on,” says Moore about his day-to-day work. “It used to be a world where my job was to work with the business development team to land new projects; people who, for instance, wanted us to build them an app. That experience was in a box; things were relatively defined. Those days are over. Digital products are central to the operations of these enterprises now. There isn’t any end or box—it’s a constant evolution, and it requires constant tinkering and optimization of these products. We learn new things from data every day. It used to be very Mad Men-style—pitching to companies—but now it’s more operational and we’re living with clients week in and week out so they can keep up with all the data they’re seeing and make it reflective of their needs.”

After years of working for big companies like AOL and traditional ones like Telegraph Media Group, Moore took a significant jump to work with an independent company like WillowTree. But working in the always-changing, unpredictable digital space, and especially with a creative team, is precisely where he thrives.

“As someone who’s worked in traditional business and digital environments, I prefer the slightly more chaotic side of things,” he says. “Not just for the intellectual rigor, but it has a big impact on how teams work. I believe that with all the uncertainty we face in technology, our team gets up every morning and faces the unknown, the uncertain, together. That forces innovation. In traditional business where you wake up and do the same thing every day, that’s where workplace politics, inefficiency, and laziness step in. I prefer being on my toes. Harkening back to my crew days at Temple, I thrive when I’m in a team. It’s part of my DNA.”

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