From Dolphins Promoter to Surgical Device Salesman
Mike Pennie works in sales in the medical device industry. Yet, he often dresses in scrubs to assist surgeons in the operating room.
The 1994 Miami, Florida, alumnus sells high-tech surgical devices to physicians for ConMed Endoscopic Technologies.
“I teach physicians how to use the devices,” says Pennie, a business administration graduate whose career has taken some unique twists and turns.
“For example, if a patient is receiving a metal stent, I will assist the doctors in the procedure. The physician has many more years of medical training than I have, but I know the product and can show them how to use it,” he says.
ConMed is a recognized technological leader in providing specialty products for the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal and pulmonary disorders.
“At Alma you get more attention from teachers…it’s a big reason I have had a successful career in marketing.”
Pennie, the 2006 recipient of Alma College’s Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, didn’t start out in the medical device industry. His work experiences include selling corporate sponsorships for a professional tennis tournament and a National Football League team.
After Alma, Pennie pursued a master’s degree in sports administration at St. Thomas University. While at St. Thomas, he worked for International Management Group, or IMG, the world’s largest sports management firm. IMG operated a tennis tournament called the Chris Evert Pro/Celebrity Tennis Classic. Pennie sold sponsorships for IMG during the day and went to school at night.
After graduating from St. Thomas, Pennie was hired by the NFL’s Miami Dolphins to sell corporate sponsorships.
“My title was manager of marketing partnerships, but I wore a lot of hats,” says Pennie. “It was a lot of fun being on the field and meeting the players. At the time it was a like a dream job.”
He eventually left the world of sports for a new career with Novartis Pharmaceuticals, promoting cardiovascular and gastrointestinal drugs to physicians in Florida, before moving on to ConMed.
At Alma, besides pursuing his business administration degree, Pennie played basketball and hosted a sports talk show on campus radio station WQAC.
“What I liked about Alma College, and what’s so different than at large universities, is the intimacy of the classroom,” says Pennie. “I might have had one or two classes of 50 people in my freshman year, but after that the norm was 20 or 30 students max, and I had a couple of classes with six people. Having a liberal arts background is great because I got a taste of so many different subjects.
“At Alma you get more attention from teachers, and even if I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, it’s a big reason I have had a successful career in marketing,” he says.