Student Spotlight: Mark Pfefferman
Mark Pfefferman came to College of DuPage almost by accident.
“I graduated from the University of Illinois in May and got accepted into DePaul’s MBA program the following January,” he said. “To stay on my father’s insurance coverage, I enrolled at COD for the fall term as a full-time student. It’s been over three decades, and I haven’t really left yet.”
Pfefferman considers COD his first dose of the real world.
“I was going to school, working essentially two jobs and volunteering,” he said. “I’ve used the time management and writing skills learned at COD virtually every day since. COD also fostered a love of public service and how to be successful at it. There were some incredible role models – Allan Carter and Jim Nyka, Nancy Svoboda and Hal McAninch, Nancy Wajler Miller and many more. I had the honor of being there when many of those whose names now adorn facilities around campus worked at COD.”
During his years at the College, Pfefferrman had the distinction of seeing it from four different perspectives: as a student, as a reporter for the student newspaper The Courier, as a part-time employee and as an elected member of the Board of Trustees. Each perspective allowed him to gain a better understanding of the school.
“As a student, I learned how passionate and knowledgeable COD professors were. To my surprise, my education at COD was just as rigorous as it was at U of I and DePaul, and more personal,” he said. “As a journalist, I saw COD coming of age. We published stories about salaries, negotiations, championship sports teams, spending and new construction, many of which hadn’t been done before. We were a small example of the fourth pillar of democracy in action and not everyone responded positively.
“As an employee, I learned about the many perspectives of COD, from cheap and uncaring to a workplace nirvana that offered employees and their families great opportunity. Employee groups were distinct – classified, faculty, part-time faculty, administration, facilities. All were terrific people! As a board member, I balanced the first-hand knowledge gained from the other roles with the policy-making responsibility of the board. I learned that the board often received information from one point of view that may not be representative of the whole.”
Pfefferman earned his associate’s degree with a concentration in journalism and completed his MBA at DePaul. However, finding a job became a difficult task. He secured a position at a company that unfortunately folded shortly after he began to work there.
During Thanksgiving week, he went to Marshall Field’s and asked about available seasonal work. He was hired and ended up staying for more than six years, advancing from running a small Bears’ Super Bowl boutique to managing a $20 million store. He currently works at TransUnion LLC, and his tenure includes being promoted 12 times in 24-plus years to his current role leading TU’s sales content and management strategy. He previously held positions in customer experience, change management, financial services, business intelligence and national accounts.
In addition to his work accomplishments, Pfefferman is fully committed to his civic work. This includes leadership in the Village of Glen Ellyn, a current co-president of the Glenbard South High School Boosters with his wife, Martha, and board member for Anima/The Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus and the Glen Ellyn Historical Society.
“Civic involvement is rewarding and selfless,” he said. “Like journalism, one must start with a passion for the craft but be objective when seeking and assessing the facts. Civic involvement makes a difference and helps locally. Those are passions of mine. It allows one to give back to the community.”
In 2016, Pfefferman was named one of College of DuPage’s Distinguished Alumni. While he has accomplished much in his life, he still wants to do more.
“I’m always working on being a better dad,” he said. “I’d still like to get a doctorate and work until I’m 70 and a half years old, getting promotions along the way! We need to travel more. I hope to see our boys become productive members of society who want to make a difference – perhaps beside their old man. I hope to give more.”
He is thankful that the intended short stint at College of DuPage became a part of his life. Pfefferman hopes that others discover everything the school offers.
“Run, don’t walk, to COD,” he said. “Keep your mind wide open. Take advantage of every opportunity the College offers if you can. Don’t just show up and leave. Make your professors and counselors your partners. They are extraordinary people who want to help. Be proud for considering COD – it is an amazing place.
“It strikes me that all are welcome at COD. The College tries to make a difference in the community. In that way, we have the same ideals. I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years of COD brings.”
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