Feb. 1, 2006
Knowing the Path
Former Volleyball Player Jennifer Matullo used volleyball to get an engineering degree at Tech and a MBA from Harvard.
By Scott MacDonald
From the hard court in O’Keefe Gymnasium to the classrooms at Harvard University, former Georgia Tech volleyball player Jennifer Matullo has come a long way since setting up teammates and listening to the cheer “Point Tech.”
“I always knew that once my career was done at Georgia Tech, volleyball would be finished for me,” said Matullo. “I used volleyball to get an engineering degree.”
A native of Boca Raton, Fla., Matullo graduated from Tech in the spring of 1997 with a mechanical engineering degree. She helped lead Tech to a pair of Atlantic Coast Conference regular season championships (1994, ’95) and the school’s first women’s ACC Tournament title in ’95. Matullo currently ranks 10th all-time in school history with 716 assists.
“It was definitely one of the highlights so far in my life,” said Matullo. “To be the first women’s team to win a tournament title was special and to do so with my best friends [Cris (Omiecinski) Leone, Danielle (Olein) Crowder, Kerry (Annel) Bryan] was an unbelievable way to end my career.”
During her last semester of school at Tech, Matullo found out that Nike recruiters were going to be on campus and thought she would meet them and pass along her resume. As it turns out, those meetings paid off for Matullo because Nike hired her in the summer of `97.
“I always loved NIKE,” said Matullo. “Every year I went around trying to find Nike apparel and wore their volleyball shoes, even at Tech when everybody else was wearing Mizuno. I did that until [head coach] Shelton [Collier] said we had to wear Mizuno shoes. So working for Nike was a dream.”
At Nike, Matullo began working on the engineering of volleyball shoes and progressed to basketball. She worked in Taiwan with the factory responsible for manufacturing the Ultraposite along with Nike’s Asia office to transform the models and drawings created in Beaverton, Ore., into the final, functioning product.
“Basketball is a high profile sport and it was cool to see Georgia Tech players wearing the shoes you worked on and even NBA players wearing them,” said Matullo. “One year after I left, the players were still wearing the shoes I helped design. That was definitely the best part of the job.”
Another perk of working for Nike was the ability to travel overseas to Asia. During her time with Nike she spent a summer in Taiwan and frequently worked with the factories there, along with Thailand and China.
“When I was over there I was surprised on how well kept the factories were,” said Matullo. “You always hear about what is going on over there, and it’s very misleading. It was great to be able to travel over there and witness the differences in culture and society.”
After six years with Nike and a well established career, Matullo came to a crossroad where she perhaps wanted to pursue another dream. She always thought that it would be good to have an engineering degree along with a MBA degree.
“I always wanted an engineering degree and MBA degree,” said Matullo. “The timing was right and when I was trying to decide, I was told that I was going to live in Taiwan for three years and I did not know if I could be that far away from my family for that period of time.”
So Matullo made the decision to apply to graduate school, sending applications to Stanford University and Harvard University.
“I decided that if I was going to give up a job I love, it was going to take something fantastic to make me leave,” said Matullo. “I applied to two schools and got into both, selecting to attend Harvard.”
And why not, Harvard is considered by most as the most prestigious university in the country and brings in all kinds of highly successful speakers on a regular basis. Matullo began school in 2003 and while at Harvard met one of the most famous personalities in the United States, Oprah Winfrey.
“One of my professors at Harvard wrote a case study on Oprah and we were studying it,” said Matullo. “Then one day in class, we showed up and she was there. She spoke about the case and signed our cases after class, it was pretty exciting.”
The relationships formed at Harvard led to vast job opportunities after she graduated in June 2005. Matullo was given another opportunity to work with Nike, a company she really enjoyed, but decided to take a position at Victoria’s Secret as the Manager of Business Commercialization on July 15.
“I spoke with many of the professors at Harvard and they helped me make the decision that best fit my needs,” said Matullo. “Here I get to assist with the strategy of the company for the catalog and website, and help decide what big business we’re going to go into.”
Many former athletes dream of working for a big time company such as Nike, and Matullo has done that. Now she gets to work with clothes and makeup, which would make any woman jealous.
“I get to talk about makeup and clothes all day [at Victoria’s Secret],” said Matullo. “I’m excited about this company and what we’re trying to accomplish.”