World Campus Alum paying forward value of a Penn State education

Penn State World Campus Alum Mike Russo knows exactly how valuable a Penn State degree can be to future employers. That’s why, as a World Campus ambassador, he’s helping current students build their careers by creating opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders.

After working in HR for almost 12 years, Mike Russo decided he needed to obtain an undergraduate degree for his career to progress. Now the Vice President and Head of U.S. HR Shared Services for Bayer, Mike earned a BS in Organizational Leadership, Management, and Labor Studies and Employment Relations from Penn State in 2012 and followed with a Masters in HRER in 2013. He completed the degrees with a GPA of 3.93.

“I continue to be an ambassador for World Campus,” said Mike, “and this year we are launching an HR Training program at Bayer and have chosen Penn State as one of the two campuses we will recruit from for this program.”

Mike chose Penn State World Campus mainly because of the reputation of the school and the flexibility of the program. Leading a recruiting organization, he understood a school’s reputation was essential. “I travelled extensively at the time and needed the flexibility to work anywhere in the world. I recognized the LER program at Penn State is one of the finest in the country and having worked for American Airlines, I had a passion for labor. I wanted to learn from the best.”

Prior to Penn State, Mike held various roles with American Airlines and Textron, Inc. - a multi-industry conglomerate.  He joined the America HR team after working in Airline Operations and Information Technology.  Mike explains that he had no real knowledge of HR but having started in HR at American two weeks before 9/11, he had to learn quickly. “It was an incredibly challenging time and life altering experience.”

His Penn State education continues to serve him in his daily challenges. “I found the undergraduate programs gave me a broader perspective,” says Mike. “For example, the organizational communication and psychology courses gave me an understanding of what I experience in the workplace. It has enabled me to see the relationships and work dynamics from a different perspective and has helped me better relate to people in the workplace