Alumni Spotlight: For Muma College of Business MBA Grad Linda Civitillo, The Road to Success Was Long and Winding
By Keith Morelli
TAMPA (March 24, 2017) -- Business and marketing is and always has been in Linda Civitillo's blood, but after earning an Executive MBA from the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business – at the ripe young age of 43 – she is focused and her career is soaring.
Civitillo now is vice president of sales and marketing for Michigan-based SVT, a fast growing technology solutions company. She lives in Tampa with her husband, Jay, also an Executive MBA graduate of the USF business school and currently a sales and marketing consultant, and the couple's children.
She's logged more than a few miles in her life, from birth as an Army brat in Seoul, South Korea to growing up in a small Texas town to working for start-ups in Boston and finally balancing a career and raising a family in Tampa,
Successes and challenges? There have been a few.
Civitillo graduated high school in Sealy, a southeast Texas town with a population of about 6,000, one stoplight and a grocery store. She says she had a taste for urban life so she jumped at the first chance to leave and headed to Boston to pursue a bachelor's degree in entrepreneurial management at Boston University.
Working her way through school, she had to put her education on hold several times along the way to make ends meet. She did time at a sporting goods store, a bio-technology start-up and finally a web marketing company, something, she says, was cutting edge in 1999. But she never faltered from the goal.
"As a non-traditional student," she says, "I saw the value of a college degree, especially being a full-time employee."
Despite her breathless schedule, she found time for one of her lifelong passions, volleyball.
While playing on a traveling volleyball team, she met and eventually married her husband. They welcomed their first child, a son, in the winter of 2001. A few months later the newly minted family visited her folks in Texas where the warm weather convinced them that southern living should be in their future.
Three months later they sold their house in Boston and moved to Carrollwood to be close to family.
"We didn't have jobs or know what we were going to do," she says, "but we knew that we had to take a chance."
Her first job in Florida was as a director of marketing for a local credit union. Civitillo was able to apply her sales and marketing skills to grow the organization's membership base and service offerings.
A few years later she took a marketing position with Audio Visual Innovations, a leading audio/visual company, now AVI-SPL, headquartered in Tampa. She was with the firm for more than 15 years moving to a sales position and rapidly advancing her career through a merger.
She settled into a good life in Tampa. A good job, happy family, life in the suburbs.
"Most of our free time now is occupied doing stuff with the family," she says. "We enjoy taking advantage of local family entertainment venues like Busch Gardens, Disney and Universal parks, and the kids' sports and activities; football, volleyball and piano recitals."
And still, Civitillo wanted more from her career, so following her husband's lead – he enrolled in the Executive MBA program at the Muma College of Business in 2010 and received his degree in 2012 – she enrolled in 2012 and in 2014, she also earned an Executive MBA.
The degree allowed her to take on a new role and greater challenges and in 2016, she was recruited to SVT (Sport View Technologies) to help the growing company in its next evolution in the technology industry.
SVT specializes in designing, engineering, commissioning and servicing turn-key commercial audio/video systems. The corporation began as a family-owned business more than half a century ago, providing audio/video systems to horse and dog racing tracks and casinos.
Since then, its list of clients has grown to hotels and restaurants, sports bars and churches, banks and universities.
Her mid-career rise, she says, was no accident. Nor was it luck.
"I owe a tremendous amount of my success," she says, "to the knowledge I gained and relationships I made while enrolled at the Muma School of Business."
Since 2014, both Linda and Jay Civitillo have been supporters of the program, says Andrew Artis, academic director of the MBA program at the Muma College of Business. Both often return to give talks and offer up advice to students.
"Linda is a dream come true for someone like me who needs alumni to come back and provide direction," Artis says. "First, she brings out the best in others so the whole team is better when she is involved. Second, she is a utility player with such a wide breath of skills she can play any position on the field."