Talent Search: Alumni Behind the Scenes in Arts and Entertainment

Talent Search: Alumni Behind the Scenes in Arts and Entertainment

Auctioning off a Picasso original or selling a famed Matisse print is part of a typical day at the office for Caroline Sayan. As senior vice president and global managing director at Christie’s, one of the world’s most prestigious art auction houses and dealerships, Ms. Sayan trades in some of history’s most famous and inspiring works of art. “I run a global group that handles about a billion dollars of sales a year,” says the alumna, who was interviewed while shuttling between high-profile auctions in Paris.
Sayan began working at Christie’s in the mid-1990s, in an entry-level job, after earning a bachelor’s degree in art history from Syracuse University. She soon realized that she needed something extra to help her rise to the top of her industry, and that led her to Baruch. Exchanging her art history books for spreadsheets, Sayan earned a Zicklin MBA in international business. “It was quite unique back then to be an art history major with an MBA,” she recalls.
As she had anticipated, her new degree equipped her well for the next stage of her career: launching Christie’s global efforts in China. The New York native relocated her family to Beijing and lived there for two years, building a team from the ground up. Today she is back in New York handling Christie’s Impressionist and modern art, overseeing sales in a number of international regions, the culmination of a career that has taken her to all parts of the world. “It’s been a real adventure,” she says.

Caroline Sayan (MBA ’02), senior vice president and global managing director at Christie’s, says that her Zicklin degree laid the groundwork for her success and its lessons continue to remain applicable more than a decade later. “My Baruch education always feels very relevant, which is impressive.”

Ever since he was a child, Frank Tanki Jr. has been fascinated by entertainment and, more specifically, television—not just the shows themselves but the behind-the-scenes drama and strategy sessions that spawned them. He would wonder, for example, why certain shows aired at certain times of the day. “There was no ‘on demand’ back then,” he jokes. That curiosity, which remained with him into adulthood, led him to a career in television.
Today he serves as general manager of TV Land, a popular basic cable channel that reaches more than 91 million households in the U.S. It is the latest position in what has been a successful 12-year career at Viacom (TV Land’s parent company), during which time Mr. Tanki helped bring to life some of today’s most recognizable shows, including

SpongeBob SquarePants on Nickelodeon and, most recently, Lip Sync Battle on Spike.
“I remember being part of the core team of about three people working day-to-day when SpongeBob launched,” Tanki recalls, “figuring out the details of all of the ancillary opportunities. It started with simple t-shirt designs and grew to amusement park rides. It was simply amazing to see a series so fun and innocent grow into a billion-dollar entity.”
At TV Land, the alumnus focuses his business and managerial talent on growing the network’s original content and expanding its brand marketing. His professional success, he says, can be traced back to the lessons he learned at Baruch. The second-generation Baruchian—Tanki’s father, Frank Tanki Sr., graduated in 1962—notes that Zicklin’s Executive MBA “matched my hustle,” adding that many of his professors even had NYC-based experience in entertainment.

For Frank Tanki Jr. (EMBA ’04), general manager of TV Land, his Zicklin Executive MBA “matched my hustle.” He calls the caliber of professors “top-notch,” especially those with NYC-based experience in the entertainment industry. “There’s simply no better return on investment than a Baruch degree,” he says.

Growing up, Joan Chin adored radio. “I could name almost every disc jockey,” she says, smiling as she recalls the countless nights that she and he family would gather in front of the radio and listen to music. “Radio is all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
In Ms. Chin’s case, dreams do come true. The alumna has enjoyed a successful 30-year career in radio and currently serves as director of talk operations at Sirius XM, the world’s largest radio company in terms of revenue. She is also the executive producer of Pia Lindstrom Presents, a weekly entertainment show that features interviews with renowned film directors, producers, and authors.
As a teenager, Chin wanted to attend Baruch when she learned about WBMB, the College’s student-run radio station. The journalism major became general manager of WBMB in her senior year. “Running the station,” she recalls, “really gets you ready for the professional world. It teaches you how to be a problem solver, which is so essential in radio.”

Director of Talk Operations at Sirius XM Joan Chin (’86) credits her time as general manager of Baruch’s student-run radio station, WBMB, as helping to prepare her for her current role. “Running the station really gets you ready for the professional world. It teaches you how to be a problem solver, which is so essential in radio.”
        Chin’s career has encompassed a number of fascinating shows and projects. She worked on the original staff of the legendary Mike and the Mad Dog, which played a seminal role in the genesis of modern sports talk radio. “Their bark,” Chin laughs, “is so much worse than their bite.” Now, at Sirius, her responsibilities include booking guests, recording, handling logistics, commercial spots, and promos. The job can be stressful, but Chin says she sometimes has to pinch herself to make sure she is not dreaming.
“Who knew that I could make a living out of having fun?” she says.











These success stories don’t come as a surprise to Dr. H. Fenwick Huss, Willem Kooyker Dean of the Zicklin School of Business. “A degree from the Zicklin School—and from Baruch in general—can lead you anywhere,” he says. “The logistics, finances, and marketing of arts and entertainment are often just as important as the creative side, and our alumni show that those behind the scenes deserve their share of the spotlight.”


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