An MBA on his résumé and a song in his heart

Chris Wietig.

Wietig performs with Michele Ragusa during "Funny Girl in Concert" with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

How did a brand manager at Rich Products wind up singing with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra?

As any good MBA would say: “Networking, networking, networking.”

Chris Wietig, MBA ’07, works in marketing and strategic customer management at Rich Products, but has an active side career as a vocalist, singing at weddings, churches and with small symphonic groups.

The opportunity to sing with the Buffalo Philharmonic during a performance of “Funny Girl in Concert” fulfilled a lifelong dream for Wietig. And he used his business skills to make it happen.

“One of the biggest lessons I learned in business school was that the people you know and communicate with are your key to success,” Wietig says. “In business, it is knowing who to call to get something done. In music, it is making sure as many people know you can sing and know how to get in contact with you.

“I auditioned for a local music director last year and then had an opportunity to sing at a special event where that director attended,” he explains. “When there was an opening for the ‘Funny Girl’ performance, I got the call to audition and won the role.”

Wietig received a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from SUNY Fredonia in 2004. After a few years of performing (including a 2006 tour of Japan in Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music”) and running a website, he returned to school for his MBA. He is glad he chose the UB School of Management.

“The full-time MBA program was excellent preparation for the job market,” he says. “My initial job after leaving school was not in one of the fields that I concentrated in (marketing and consulting); however, I felt very capable and prepared to be effective from day one. That is a testament to how well the program prepares you.”

In 2008, Wietig was hired by Rich Products and worked in marketing on customized desserts. A year later, he was promoted and joined the strategic customer team, working with Rich’s sales force to provide private-label desserts to Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club.

Wietig says his performance background comes in handy when making presentations to national executives. “I’ve sung in Italian in front of 1,000 people, so I don’t get nervous making a presentation in English to another human being,” he says.

A Buffalo native, Wietig is happy to live in a community where he can work at a job he enjoys and carry on with his first love, music.

“The work-life balance in this great city means I am able to pursue both careers on my terms,” he says. “Sometimes the travel schedule with Wal-Mart prevents me from attending certain rehearsals or performances, but for the most part I am able to maintain both pursuits.”

Wietig is especially excited about the recent release of his first solo recording album, “Take it Slow,” a collection of classical, contemporary musical theatre, folk, jazz and pop covers. 

Written by Cathy Wilde