Marketing Department Launches Distinguished Speaker Series

The series welcomed Whitney Haslam Johnson, chief experience officer of Pilot Company, as its first speaker in October.

November 16, 2022

The Department of Marketing at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business has launched its inaugural Distinguished Speaker Series. The department welcomed Whitney Haslam Johnson, chief experience officer of Pilot Company, as the series’ first speaker in October. 

Whitney Haslam Johnson at podium
Whitney Haslam Johnson

The event began with a conversation between Johnson and Alex Zablah, marketing department head. Johnson conversed with Zablah about her career experiences, her advice for students and Pilot’s marketing strategies. At the end of the discussion, audience members had the opportunity to engage with Johnson in a Q&A session.

Students from the department’s new Master of Science in Marketing program, as well as faculty-nominated marketing undergraduates, Pilot Company leadership and select members of the company’s marketing team, along with Haslam faculty and staff, attended. Following the presentation, Johnson, James A. Haslam II and key members of the Pilot marketing team joined the master’s students in the West Wing of the Haslam Business Building for further discussion over lunch.

“Our inaugural distinguished speaker visit lived up to its billing, with Whitney Haslam Johnson offering our students a grounded perspective on how she helped Pilot Company build the marketing infrastructure that fuels its success,” Zablah said. “We are very grateful to Whitney for her willingness to invest so generously in our students.”

Learning and Networking

With the new speaker series, the department aims to introduce its master’s students to innovative marketing leaders across various industries, enabling them to deepen their understanding of what they are learning in the program while building a professional network for future success. 

“The Master of Science in Marketing Distinguished Speaker Series was born out of our conviction that strong ties to industry partners are critical to the relevance of our programs and our ability to help students develop the skills they need to be the marketing leaders of tomorrow,” Zablah said. “The speaker series is one manifestation of this core belief and provides our students a unique opportunity to learn from and engage with experienced marketers from leading organizations.”

Ken Thewes, chief marketing officer of Regal, is scheduled to be the next series speaker in spring 2023.


Stacy Estep, writer/publicist,