Alumni Spotlight: Jason Umino
from SPPD Staff Reports
In the early 90s, Jason Umino was a Renaissance scholar long before the new USC Renaissance Scholar program was created. With a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy and Management from SPPD, and a minor in French, he was able to diversify his undergraduate education in such a way that allowed him to create a specialized career path later on.
As research manager for the Hawaii Visitors Convention Bureau (HVCB) in Honolulu, Umino is responsible for helping to market Hawaii as a travel destination to the North American leisure market as well as the global business and professional meetings market. Through specialized research projects – mainly qualitative and quantitative studies, database analyses, and competitive destination tracking – Umino helps inform HVCB’s tourist marketing efforts.
“I have been able to use my USC education in all facets of my work,” he says. “My class in statistics helps me every day as a market researcher.”
By utilizing Umino’s research findings, HVCB tailors their marketing messages – including print and television advertising, e-marketing, public relations efforts, and customer relationship management – so that Hawaii can reach its target audiences more effectively.
“After many, many focus groups and analysis, we recently re-launched the website, www.gohawaii.com,” he says, citing one example of a marketing tactic informed by his research.
Working as a market researcher is only the latest iteration of this Renaissance scholar’s career, though.
Having studied abroad while at USC, Umino decided to put his interest in international policy to use. Immediately following graduation, he lived and worked in France for a year.
“My senior honors thesis was on the topic of the newly formed European Union,” Umino explains.
“After studying abroad in France as an undeclared sophomore, I decided to major in Public Policy and Management because I wanted to pursue a diverse degree — one where I could learn how the U.S. fit into the international arena.”
After his time abroad, Umino was able to secure a position doing just that. As an international trade specialist for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, he spent five years working with embassies and other national governments. By measuring economic impact and overseeing special marketing programs, Umino analyzed the viability of various international policies—from a visa waiver program to passport regulations to regional travel.
According to Umino, travel and tourism policies changed dramatically after 9/11 — something he experienced first-hand.
While he has always been interested in international policy, global marketing, and market research, Umino has continued his multi-faceted interests outside of his full-time work environment. By composing the score and soundtrack for the independent film, “The Criminally Inept,” he has also been able to pursue his passion for music.
“The Criminally Inept,” directed by USC School of Cinematic Arts graduate student Ryan Ishii, was recently featured at the Honolulu International Film Festival. Currently, Umino is working on another soundtrack for a film set to be released on the independent film festival circuit sometime next year.
To learn more about applying diverse skills and interests as a USC undergraduate student, visit the new Renaissance Scholar Program.