Alumni Spotlight: Alan VanderMolen (BA, Journalism, 1987)

Alan VanderMolen owes his passions in communication, diversity and inclusion to his time as an undergraduate student at Ohio State. A member of Ohio State’s Board of Trustees, he has used his talents in public relations and his global interests to pursue opportunities in eight countries around the world, including Thailand, England and Singapore. 

Alan VanderMolenVanderMolen began his communication career at Burson-Marstellar, now BCW, in New York City. From there, he spent 13 years at Edelman as the vice chairman for DJE Holdings, the world’s largest public relations firm. He was responsible for Edelman’s global business practices, its regional business in Latin America and Canada and its intellectual capital.

VanderMolen then became the international president at WE Communications. Here, he was responsible for the firm’s intellectual capital, global expansion and oversaw the agency’s regions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific.

VanderMolen describes his experience at Ohio State as “terrific” and emphasizes the importance of extracurriculars in preparing him for a career outside of college.

“My first two years of school, I spent most of my time studying, but during my sophomore year, I became unleashed. I took courses outside of my major that introduced me to unique programs and broadened my knowledge of subjects outside of my major,” VanderMolen said. “I wrote for The Lantern, was involved in PRSSA and joined the Council of Presidents. Here, I discovered the bowling alley in the basement of the Ohio Union and discovered things I normally wouldn’t have if I was not as involved.”

Along with extracurricular activities, VanderMolen credits the relationships made at Ohio State to developing his career and he stresses the importance of meeting people you might not normally associate with.

“When you expand outside of your major, you meet the most wonderful people. Becoming friends with international students my senior year opened my mind to a global career,” VanderMolen said. “Approaching people that are so far out of your normal social circle will expand your horizons and there’s no better place for that than at Ohio State.” 

Alan VanderMolenVanderMolen said serving on Ohio State’s Board of Trustees is one of the highest honors and recognitions in his career.

“To be able to have even a small part of the impact Ohio State has on the lives of its students and the ability it has to impact the world through being a public research institution is very rewarding,” VanderMolen said. “I am thankful for every day I spend on the board. It has been a great experience.”

Looking back on his own career and time in school, VanderMolen urges students to take advantage of the opportunities at their fingertips at Ohio State.

“Have an open mind, have an extraordinary sense of humor and make all decisions based upon your core values,” he said. “Use your core values in your decision making to be true to yourself and stay happy.”

Article by student Hannah Dunlap