Alumni Spotlight: Dan Harrison
As a co-founder of SAI’s Campus Promotions agency during his junior year at Cornell, Dan Harrison (‘91) has had a lasting impact on SAI. Dan’s inspiration for Campus Promotions stemmed from his prior experience bringing national companies to his high school. Alongside Robert Lynch (’90; ’91 MBA), his co-founder, Dan gained the business of companies with large marketing budgets and offered them unique access to the Cornell student market, which is still a primary goal of Campus Promotions today. This experience Dan had at Student Agencies initiated his exposure to an operations role and gave him a taste of what he may be interested in doing in the future.
While a freshman at Cornell, Dan began working in the media and entertainment business as an intern in Fox’s syndication marketing department. Known for his interest in combining technology and media, Dan used his new Macintosh computer to create full-color marketing materials (using graphics and logos), while the Fox’s marketing department at the time was still using typewriters.
Upon graduating from Cornell, Dan went on to receive his JD from Harvard Law School. He regards his legal training and approach to be beneficial in business as well. Dan first gained experience working in program planning, strategy, and scheduling at UPN and NBC (during the “Must See TV” heyday). The part of his job he enjoys the most is that his area is closest to the intersection of art and commerce, exposing him to all aspects of the television business. He was part of the team that fueled the popularity of the BRAVO network, launching shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Project Runway. Dan currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Strategy & Program Planning at Fox Entertainment and has had an integral role in the success of a myriad of large shows, including Empire, Last Man Standing, and MasterChef Junior. Throughout his role at Fox, Dan has learned the importance of paying close attention to detail. For example, a small listing change was critical to the new program Master Chef Junior reaching its target audience and building its presence on the channel. Dan notes that in the broadcast business, with its high-volume of original programming but limited hours, it is important to “polish each grain of sand” and make sure that the network makes the most out of each show so that viewers want to discover and stick with old favorites and new offerings.
The entertainment business is currently experiencing a large transformation and it is difficult to foresee what the future holds for the industry. Nonetheless, Dan has truly enjoyed his time working in entertainment and looks forward to continuing to work in the industry which is undergoing rapid change with the growth of digital and streaming services – and in a year or two, 5G. Dan advises students to work for and with great people. Surrounding yourself with genuine and diligent individuals is far more critical to one’s success and career trajectory than the prestige of any company or position.