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Marvel Comics executive speaks to full house at University
10/19/07

A standing-room-only crowd of business students, professors and comic book fans gathered in the Nevins Theater on Oct. 18, 2007 to hear the Vice Chairman/Director of Marvel Enterprises, Inc. and Chairmen of the Alfred University Board of Trustees, Peter Cuneo, speak.

Cuneo graduated from Alfred University in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in glass science. Since then, this well known “Turnaround Man” has earned seven success stories in consumer-product companies such as Clairol, Black & Decker and Remington. Cuneo is also senior adviser to Plainfield Asset Management LLC and was previous CEO at Marvel Enterprises Inc. Cuneo joined Marvel in 1999, just after the company emerged from bankruptcy.

Cuneo explained, “Coming out of bankruptcy is like finishing chemotherapy: You are theoretically ‘cured’ but also very weak … the reality is you’re very sick as a company.” Under his wing, Marvel Enterprises, Inc. has created 10 motion pictures, nine of which are considered successful.

From the second Cuneo took the stage, he had the crowd’s full attention. All eyes were focused on “Marvel’s Superhero CEO.” He opened his presentation with an action-packed, short film full of upbeat music, behind-the-scenes clips from upcoming movies The Incredible Hulk and Ironman, and surprising facts about how Marvel works and why the company is so successful today. The movie talked briefly about the expansion of Marvel and Marvel products.

After the film Cuneo continued to wow the crowed with his Marvel turnaround story. He gave the audience many pieces of advice that are helpful both in and outside of the business world. When describing the standards he had for Marvel Enterprises Inc., he said, “I hate the word average … I don’t like to be average. Average is a curse word and we simply don’t accept that.”

Cuneo spent some time explaining how he became so successful. He had six tips to give to the crowd. Some of which include: Communicate often; listen well but be impatient; a new culture can accept mistakes but be decisive; and strategy and tactics are useless without effective leadership.

Students, faculty and fans left the theater with a new sense of appreciation for Marvel Enterprises Inc. and a better understanding of the hard work it takes to become so successful.