CarterBaldwin Executive Search Places Director of Marketing for Pepperdine University

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August 1, 2022 – CarterBaldwin Executive Search helped place Sean Burnett, formerly of HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division, as Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing Communications and Chief Marketing Officer at Pepperdine University. Mr. Burnett will lead Pepperdine’s award-winning marketing and communications team to share the university’s brand story through events, publications and emerging technologies.

“I look forward to Sean’s stewardship of Pepperdine’s brand and history and am energized by the knowledge and experience he brings from his years of leadership in strategic communications, organizational development and promotion of invaluable opportunities in health and higher education,” says university president Jim Gash.

Mr. Burnett joins Pepperdine with more than 20 years of experience in brand management and strategic planning, most recently serving as Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Affairs for the Gulf Coast Division of HCA Healthcare, a leading healthcare service provider.

Prior to his role at HCA, Mr. Burnett served as Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Training at health services company Covia Health. He has launched comprehensive marketing programs, designed communications initiatives and influenced global brands such as OSI Restaurant Partners Inc. (Outback Steakhouse), Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut), IKEA, Igloo Products Corp. and SYSCO Foods, among others.

Strong experience

In addition to his corporate roles, Mr. Burnett served as director of MBA programs at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, where his efforts helped boost Rice’s national ranking from 49th to 22nd place in two years. Additionally, the Jones School’s entrepreneurship and finance programs ranked in the international top 10 for the first time in the school’s 35-year history.

Mr. Burnett holds an MBA from Rice University and a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Texas at Austin. He is also Chairman of the Board of Cornerstone Christian Academy, a K-8 school in Sugar Land, TX.

Pepperdine University is grounded in the tradition of the Church of Christ and upholds Christian values ​​with the belief that they complement and support the pursuit of knowledge. Located on an 830-acre campus in Malibu, California, Pepperdine is consistently ranked among the top 20 most beautiful college campuses in the United States. There are four additional campuses in Southern California and seven permanent campuses around the world that offer a range of internships and international programs on six continents. With 82 degree programs, Pepperdine offers some of the best graduate and undergraduate programs in schools dedicated to business, education and psychology, law, liberal arts and public policy. Its NCAA athletic program consists of eight men’s and nine women’s Division I teams.

Trusted Recruiters

Based in Atlanta, CarterBaldwin provides executive search services in the healthcare, technology, nonprofit, consumer services, industrial, and media/telecom sectors. Its clients include branded institutions, such as KPMG, ADP, Teradata, First Data, Duke University, New York Life, Fleet Pride and Berkshire Hathaway. The firm is listed in a variety of rankings published by Hunt Scanlon Media, including its Top 50, Private Equity Power 100 and Top 40 Higher Education Search Firms.

CarterBaldwin Executive Search also recently appointed J. Goosby Smith as Senior Vice President of Community Belonging and Chief Diversity Officer at Pepperdine. April Harris Akinloye has joined Smith as Assistant Vice President for Community Belonging.


How culture impacts an organization

In this brand new episode of “Talent Talks”, Rob Adams is joined by Chris Guiney, Partner at CarterBaldwin Executive Search. Here, Mr. Guiney addresses the theme of culture and its impact on organizations. It also examines how the culture of private equity firms differs from that of nonprofits, and then concludes by discussing the future impact of DE+I culture and initiatives. Listen now!


The selection of a Vice President for Community Belonging and Chief Diversity Officer is part of a series of initiatives the university has implemented to build and model “a diverse, informed, loving and unified” at Pepperdine. What began as a nationwide search to identify a Chief Diversity Officer has expanded into the creation of two roles.

Well qualified

Dr. Smith joins Pepperdine from The Citadel, where she served as Associate Professor of Leadership, Associate Professor of Management, Assistant Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Director of the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Center. She was previously an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Frank R. Seaver College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences at Pepperdine from 2002 to 2006, then a tenured associate professor of organizational behavior from 2011 to 2015. She also served as assessment coordinator. for the Seaver Diversity Council and as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine’s Graziadio Business School MBA program.

In her new role, Dr. Smith reports directly to President Gash, is a member of the university’s leadership team, and is a key leader of the Academic Diversity Council for which she previously served as the inaugural co-chair of the body. professor in 2005.

Dr. Smith earned his BS in Computer Science from Spelman College and his MBA and PhD in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University. In May, she received her master’s degree in theology from the Interfaith Theological Center of Atlanta.

Related: CarterBaldwin Places 16th President at Oklahoma Baptist University

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor; Dale M. Zupsansky, editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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