Ari Zoldan ’99SB is the CEO of Quantum Media Group, LLC, an international marketing and media agency representing clients in various sectors including but not limited to technology, healthcare, consumer goods, biotechnology and education. The company offers a full suite of marketing services from digital campaigns to media placements for their clients, which range from startups to Fortune 500 companies.
In part, what makes Quantum distinctive is that it operates in countries, as Zoldan explained, that would be considered on “the road less traveled.” But what makes it even more distinctive for Zoldan is that he operates, as an Orthodox Jew, in many Muslim countries like the United Arab Emirates, which has recently signed a peace accord with Israel.
YU News sat down with Zoldan to talk with him about his experiences at YU, his career path from finance major to journalist to marketer and what’s coming up on his horizon.
Let’s start with a few vital statistics, like where you grew up.
I grew up in Lawrence, Long Island, with my parents and two younger siblings. We moved to New York City when I was 18 and lived there until I got married to my wife, Shira, and moved to Wesley Hills, New York, where we live now with our children.
When did you join the YU family?
I came to YU in 1995 and majored in finance. Being on a Jewish campus was very important for me because access to a Jewish community and a shul made it a lot easier to maintain my faith and connection to Judaism.
You obviously didn’t end up pursuing a financial career as planned but instead became a journalist. How did that happen?
By total accident. I met a TV producer who worked for Fox Business. She opened up doors for me at Fox and several other cable news networks, including CNN and CNBC, and coached me into the news business.
I also worked in the White House for several years as a member of the press and had the opportunity to cover events like the G-8 summit in Germany, the earthquake in Haiti, the independence of South Sudan, former President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel and Gaza, and the World Economic Forum in Jordan.
What did you find intriguing about that world?
I found that I loved discussing, debating and sharing opinions on the media circuit. I also learned the power of marketing and media and how important it is in terms of building a brand and marketing your company. I also enjoy marketing startups and building something from scratch. So, I brought the two together, and here I am today.
Quantum has been operating in the Middle East for years prior to the recent UAE/Israel news. What do you expect it to be like now after the recent announcement?
We have been operating for several years in the region representing clients that need marketing services. Israeli business in the Emirates prior to the deal was kept under the radar, but it’s incredible how quickly things have changed.
I see tremendous growth potential between the Arab world and Israel. Geographically, culturally and religiously, there are more similarities with the Arab world than there are differences. Necessity is the mother of innovation, and what is happening now offers a huge opportunity to collaborate.
Recently, I joined the board of advisers for The Private Investment Group, a Dubai-based financial firm that works in partnership with sovereign wealth funds and private equity investors. Among my responsibilities will be cross-border transactions and strengthening ties between Israeli and the UAE industries.
What do you like most about the work you’re doing?
I enjoy working with very smart ambitious people and building dynamic teams; the actual business sector is almost secondary.
You have also been very open about being an Orthodox Jew in public view. What has been the reaction to that?
Overall, very positive. It took me a while to be public about keeping Shabbat and kosher. It probably was an insecurity of mine. But when I started doing television and put myself out there, it forced me to face certain things I may not have done before. I feel it transformed me into more of an open person.
Any words of wisdom for the students at YU, especially those interested in a media career?
Get out of your comfort zone and network, network, network! You are attending college in one of the greatest cities in the world! It’s also always about finding your passion, taking risks, building a rock-star team and enjoying the journey!
What’s on your radar next?
I have been focused on expanding our portfolio of clients and services. Central and South America are poised for great growth over the next few years. We have been closely watching the trends and growth opportunities. Our eyes are set on that region to acquire talent and clients, and we will be setting up operations throughout the Americas.
Any final words?
Man plans and G-d laughs. I see that daily, and it’s taught me to do the best I can and trust the rest to the powers that be.