Since graduating from Chapman with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, not only has
Akin Ceylan ’90
COO of home entertainment and global content delivery for Lionsgate
, but he also serves on the Chapman University
Board of Trustees
and he is president-elect of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. In addition, Akin’s daughter Paige and nephew John are current Chapman students (or as Akin puts it, “future alumni”). He is truly a proud Panther and a model Chapman Family member!
Over the years, Akin has committed himself to Thinking Chapman First in every way possible. He has connected students and alumni with internships and job opportunities,
offered career advice
, and even hosted the 3rd Annual Alumni Entertainment Industry Mixer in 2015. This year, Akin will once again host the anticipated
4th Annual Alumni Entertainment Industry Mixer
within the Lionsgate headquarters. In his words, the events brings “people together with similar values, who are positive and driven, brings a new perspective and builds character.”
Akin recently shared what it means to Think Chapman First as a business leader and provided his insight regarding Chapman’s talented alumni and “future alumni.”
Tell us about your transition from student, to alumnus, to business leader and COO, to now being a trailblazer in the Chapman Family.
Educational, transformational, exciting, humbling and a blessing. I cannot express the gratitude I have for being so fortunate to have found Chapman when I was a student. My experience, interactions with my peers and professors and education were important added layers of brick and mortar on the foundation of my personal and professional growth. It was not until years later that I realized it was because of the dedicated professors coupled with a liberal arts education and a curriculum that fostered critical thinking, teamwork, and results. I have learned to evolve my thinking and leadership practice throughout my professional growth. Today it is rewarding to be able to be in a position to give back to MY Chapman Family in various ways so that I can help add to the value of a Chapman education. I THINK CHAPMAN FIRST because I am confident in the talent output that comes from our University
How has Chapman helped you grow professionally as an alumnus?
Chapman University staff is embracing to alumni. By being involved with Chapman, it has helped me be around some very smart and dedicated people who are committed to the advancement of our University. In addition, being around students and Young Alumni helps me stay connected to various generations and what is relevant. I am able to learn from all these groups and apply new found knowledge and wisdom into my own profession. It is reciprocal, and I could not ask for anything more.
What does Think Chapman First mean to you?
Think Chapman First embodies the idea that we need to be supporting each other as students, alumni, parents, children, staff and administration. This means the Chapman Family. When we provide connections, advice, guidance and earned opportunities to each other FIRST, we make our University stronger, add to the value of our degrees, and set the expectation that the experience at Chapman is more than an education, it is a lifelong journey with your family.
As a business leader, what makes Chapman students and graduates stand out to you?
Without a doubt, Chapman students and graduates are ready to hit the ground running when they get in to a business environment. I would say leap years ahead of students and graduates from other “reputable” universities. I attribute this primarily to the liberal arts curriculum, personalized attention/education due to the smaller class size, and the professional support that is available during and post graduation. The curriculum provides focused practical experience and education for entering the workforce.
How many Chapman interns/alumni you have hired at Lionsgate?
Since we formalized our internship program about two years ago, we have averaged three to five per term (fall, spring, summer). With regard to full-time employees at Lionsgate, we have 11 full-time employees in various positions and departments in our corporate office.
What advice do you have for students and alumni who want to enter the entertainment industry?
The entertainment industry is very competitive and requires perseverance, patience, and fortitude. Taking advantage of networking events, career services, and being involved in our Alumni Association will provide valuable opportunities to make connections in addition to surrounding yourself with positive influence and guidance. Be on top of your game and know how to differentiate yourself and articulate what you bring to the table that is important and relevant. Also approach and respect the entertainment industry as a business. I believe everyone should have a basic understanding of a P&L and a Balance Sheet. Be adept at understanding finance and accounting principals as they are applicable in every aspect of business, and it applies every day in your personal life.
Do you have a message for your fellow alumni?
Think Chapman First. Get involved with your Alumni Association and be conscious about sharing information and opportunities through our Chapman network. It is meaningful and important that we support each other as best as possible. We have many smart, hardworking, dedicated alumni with strong work ethics – both young and established professionals. From my own experience, it is quite fulfilling to be involved.
Do you have a message for fellow business leaders?
It is important as business leaders to stay relevant, be insightful, and have strong values that translate in to a commitment to be better everyday. We owe it to ourselves, our family, our community to be strong examples of what giving back and being involved means. I relish collaborating with fellow alumni in identifying opportunities for our growing our Chapman Family and I would ask our alumni business leaders to join in. Simply said, it feels right to do so.
We asked the students…
What was your biggest takeaway from your internship with Lionsgate Entertainment?
From May to August 2015, four Chapman University students spent their summer interning at Lionsgate Entertainment through Chapman’s annual Summit Internship Program. The internships were also part of the Summit Career Institute, an 8-week program designed to engage students through active learning and the development of business and leadership skills. Presenters for the Summit Internship Program included notable alumni business leaders that ranged from COOs, CEOs, renowned attorneys, and distinguished entrepreneurs. At the end of the program, students received a certificate of completion, along with access to exclusive, high-quality, paid summer internship opportunities. One of those internship opportunities was with leading global entertainment company, Lionsgate Entertainment. This opportunity was made possible by alumnus and COO Akin Ceylan ’90.
Michael Lucci ’17 (film production major, advertising minor)
My Lionsgate internship was amazing! From day one, the entire team was gracious with their time allowing me to attend meetings, contribute to meaningful projects, and provide ideas regarding company initiatives. My internship taught me the value of collaboration and success looks a lot like hard work.
Monica Tosunidis ’18 (accounting major)
Interning at Lionsgate Entertainment has been the most realistic experience I’ve had. I not only got a glimpse of the world I am heading to, but I got to be a part of it for a summer. My biggest takeaway was definitely being included and attending various meetings on different ends of the spectrum. I participated in weekly operations meetings with the entire team and classified meetings with the chief operating officer and senior vice presidents. Not only did I gain knowledge of everything discussed, but I experienced first-hand how business meetings are conducted. Although I was an intern in the operations department of home entertainment, Lionsgate has such an amazing work environment that allowed me to meet the accounting department along with the creative department. I was able to make this internship my own thanks to the endless opportunities available with the welcoming environment. On top of it all, I made lifelong friends and mentors.
Paige Ceylan ’17 (communication studies major, English minor)
Lionsgate taught me the importance of teamwork. As tedious and annoying as teamwork can be in college, it is vital to be in sync and communicate with your team to succeed in any industry.
Marissa Messina ’17 (creative producing major)
I think my biggest takeaway was the realization regarding how large the Chapman network is. I mentioned I went to Chapman at Lionsgate and people knew where I went to school, knew people who went there, and discussed Chapman with such high regard. Working with a production company at Lionsgate I learned about development, production and social media marketing; usually internships are solely one focus, but I am incredibly fortunate to have been able to get a glimpse of all three this summer. I really hope to one day be in a position where I can give this same type of experience to a Chapman undergrad.
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