2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Adam Perlow

This profile was included among The Best & Brightest Executive MBAs of 2021 published by Poets & Quants, September 3, 2021.

Adam Perlow

Rutgers Business School Executive MBA Program

“Recovering entrepreneur turned big company executive.”

Hometown: Marlboro, NJ

Family Members: Marlo (wife), Marissa (daughter) 22, Tyler (son) 20, and Trevor (son) 16

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been to 45 states in the U.S. and over 25 countries. The majority of that travel has occurred as business.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Hartford, Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration

Where are you currently working?  I serve as the chief operating officer of Northstar New Jersey Lottery Group which is the private operator of the New Jersey Lottery and is a subsidiary of IGT (a large multi-national gaming company). Northstar New Jersey drives over $3.5 billion in annual sales across a network of 7,000 retailers and generates more than $1 billion in profit for the Lottery’s beneficiary. In my role, I report to the board and oversee all aspects of the company including sales, marketing, strategy, products and innovation, technology, operations, finance, legal, and human resources.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:  I have spent many years as a coach in youth basketball and youth baseball.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In terms of academic achievements during business school, I’m most proud of doing well in classes in topics that aren’t normally my strong suit, like statistics.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I started a software company in 2004 that found a home in the lottery industry by accident. Over the next twelve years, it became one of the most respected companies in the industry and we were proud to count more than half of all U.S. lotteries as our customers. In 2016, the company was successfully acquired by IGT, a large public company with 13,000 employees and operations in approximately 100 countries and offices in more than 300 locations throughout the globe. During the past five years, I have held several senior roles at IGT and currently serve as the chief operating officer and most senior executive of one of its subsidiaries.

Who was your favorite MBA professor?  This question is like asking which of your kids do you love the most. When it comes to professors, Rutgers Business School has an embarrassment of riches. Farrokh Langdana, who runs the EMBA program at Rutgers, is life-changing. It is nearly impossible not to sit on the edge of your seat during his lectures. He is not only a professor, but a friend for life.

Professor Jerry Kim’s strategy classes are off-the-charts engaging and you leave every session smarter than when it started. He is extremely generous with his knowledge, and his love for teaching is obvious. Professor Val Dimitrov must be part magician because he brought accounting to life! I don’t know how he did it, but he managed to make us all look forward to our next accounting lecture.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program?I chose the EMBA program at Rutgers Business School first because of its reputation and ranking. My interview with Farrokh Langdana, the program’s director, instantly sealed the deal. I knew RBS was the place I wanted to be.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I don’t think there was one big lesson that I gained, but many lessons that cumulatively allow me to a better leader within my organization. In addition to the technical skills, there are many soft skills that you hone and bits of wisdom that you acquire – both from your professors and your classmates. One thing that I’ve learned over my 25+ year career is that you don’t have to be the smartest one in the room, and most often you don’t want to be. An EMBA program teaches you that lesson on steroids. You learn how to let others take the lead when appropriate and trust that they will do a better job on a project or task than you will.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? An executive MBA program takes time and commitment and having an understanding family is key to your success. More than half of my EMBA program took place during COVID when I worked and attended class remotely. During the early days of COVID, running a company was a seven-day- a-week job. I found myself needing to drop out of class sessions on weekends to attend conference calls and (Microsoft) Teams meetings. We had a great EMBA cohort that was generous with their class notes, and we held group study sessions to help each other catch up when needed. The professors were also understanding of the demands on our time. As a family that usually eats on the go, we began making home-cooked meals and setting aside time to have dinner together.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Don’t be scared or intimidated. Everyone else is in the same boat as you in terms of work and family commitments. As long as you can make it to class sessions, you can make it work.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth is that you will spend all of your time that you aren’t in the office writing papers and studying for tests. Of course, there are projects, papers, and exams, but the professors understand that you are working full time and have a family. Much of the work is team-based so you learn how to divide and conquer.

What was your biggest regret in business school? During COVID, my big regrets are that we had limited in-person interaction with our classmates, and we had a trip to China that had to be cancelled. Luckily, we were able to have our week-in-residence in the fall and spring of our first year, plus in-person class for the entire fall and early spring. The bonds that we have created over the past two-years will prove to be enduring.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Mike Stanzione is a machine. He is extremely smart and is confident without being cocky or overbearing. He is a great communicator; his presentations are clear, concise, and engaging. He is a natural leader. When projects needed to be broken up into chunks and delegated or study sessions needed to be organized, many people in our cohort, including me, looked to Mike. His knowledge of the healthcare industry on the provider side and payer side is incredible, even to our classmates that are in the healthcare field. He is destined for the C-Suite, and I look forward to watching his journey there. I also look forward to his continued friendship.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I’m 48 years old with a lot of work experience. I wanted to be with colleagues who brought a lot of experience to class. It was certainly the right program for me as I learned a lot from my classmates and their experiences and backgrounds.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I look forward to continuing my career by leading in senior executive roles. At this point, I enjoy general management rather than functional management and am fortunate to be in that type of role. I have always wanted to teach at the undergraduate or graduate level and feel that this program has better prepared me for that.

What made Adam such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

“Heading a large and complex institution such as Northstar New Jersey Lottery Group, the private operator of the New Jersey Lottery, is monumentally difficult in the best of times. But during a year marked by a pandemic of COVID-19, with both the supply side and the demand side of your business in shock, well, that is the kind of year that makes or breaks leaders. Adam rose to the occasion. His performance has really been a testament to leadership. As COO, Adam oversees all areas of the company (sales, marketing, technology, operations, finance, legal, (HR), and he brought all of that experience to the Rutgers EMBA Powerhouse classroom. It was evident that Adam embodied the style of leadership that Rutgers EMBA uniquely discusses and encourages –  a humanist and compassionate approach to Leadership based on the Rutgers EMBA Cycle of One concept. Adam’s style of leadership – at work and also in class with his peers – has been a case study in itself.  His eternal and superb sense of humor, his amazing and indefatigable ability to concentrate in class, and his razor-keen intellect have been key ingredients to his amazing success.”

Professor Farrokh Langdana

Director, Rutgers Executive MBA Program

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