History and Theatre alumna Geneva S. Thomas recently became the General Manager of Entertainment Weekly and People en Español under the Meredith Corporation, which is one of the world’s leading entertainment media brands, and she credits her MSU education for helping prepare her for the work she does today. She especially gives thanks for the opportunities she had as a student leader.
“Being a student leader on campus had a profound impact on my career because when you are a student leader you are inherently tasked with advocacy, problem-solving, and public speaking, and that is so much of what I do every single day,” she said. “My student leadership experience and my study of culture, Black Diasporic studies, and theatre prepared me for what I am doing.”
My student leadership experience and my study of culture, Black Diasporic studies, and theatre prepared me for what I am doing.
Thomas has worked as the GM for the past three months but has worked in digital media for nearly 14 years.
“As GM, my role is to drive the digital strategy and vision for our brands. I’m responsible for mapping how we’re diversifying revenue and our authority in the market,” Thomas said. “I work with an incredibly brilliant and passionate group of leaders who are future-proofing both products for growth. EW is a massively iconic Hollywood-driven brand that summons the most passionate TV, film, and music superfans. People en Español is a global culture brand with loyal audiences in the Spanish-speaking, Hispanic community. I’m tremendously humbled to work with an organization that believes in my talent and leadership.”
Since she just came into this position during the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas has had to adjust coming into a position working from home. She was onboarded into this position remotely and on her first day her computer and supplies were shipped to her.
“I’m working from home, and it has been quite an adjustment,” Thomas said. “I’m a big people person. I love working in an office and I’m energized by in-person meetings. It has been a challenge working from home, but I deeply believe in safety first.”
When she first came to MSU, Thomas was a Journalism major, but halfway through her freshman year she transferred to the History Department with a specialization in Black American and Diasporic Studies and added a Theatre minor as well.
During her time at MSU, Thomas led many student organizations. She served as Programming Director and later President of the Black Student Alliance. She was also active in the Black Caucus at Hubbard Hall and was on the board of the student leaders on campus representing the Black student community and Black Student Alliance.
“I was super committed as if it were my major or full-time job,” said Thomas, who graduated from MSU in 2006. After graduation, she was accepted into a Ph.D. program at MSU in African American and African Studies, but soon decided to earn her Masters degree at New York University.
Social media culture enables us all to mount instant brands around ourselves, but we must be cautious of building a house made of plastic bricks. Put the same energy into your resume and LinkedIn as you put into your TikTok profile.
“I was accepted into NYU as a graduate student studying Journalism and Fashion History at the Gallatin school in 2007,” Thomas said. “New York was calling my name and I felt I did what I could in Michigan.”
Her first job in New York was as a graduate assistant at NYU, which helped fund her program and research. She also took on a role as an executive assistant and later joined Topshop on the inaugural brand team that opened the first North American store in New York’s SoHo district.
“I used the time in my graduate program studying journalism, pop culture, and fashion history to actually do the work outside of academia,” Thomas said. “It was critical for me to juxtapose the theoretical work I was doing with on-the-ground business experience. This prepared me for the career I have now.”
Thomas has the following advice for present and future MSU students: “My advice to students is to work first, and brand later. Social media culture enables us all to mount instant brands around ourselves, but we must be cautious of building a house made of plastic bricks. Put the same energy into your resume and LinkedIn as you put into your TikTok profile. I’ll also add this: Set your intention on the life and career you want and be fiercely vigilant at it. Write it down, visualize it, and center yourself into how you want it to feel just as much as you focus on how it’s supposed to look. When you accompany this kind of vision building with an investment in self and a deep sense of spiritual work, you can power through any storm. I’m a living witness.”