(BS, Communication Arts ’95)
Q & A:
- What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra? (strength)?
I majored in communications, with a focus on TV and film. Two of the best classes I took were Professor Randy Hillebrand's Advanced Television Production class and Professor Bill Renn's Television Directing class. These classes gave me a great understanding of the technical and creative aspects of producing content for television. Both professors got me involved with HTV and beyond working on the production side, I started to get experience on the business side of television. These classes were quite challenging, but they provided me with insight into what the overall TV business looks like and really helped prepare me for the future after I graduated.
- What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
My first job after Hofstra was a position at Acclaim Entertainment, which was a video game company based on Long Island. As a lifelong gamer, I jumped at the opportunity. I actually started working for Acclaim part time while I was still at Hofstra.
I was hired for a short-term marketing initiative to support a massive upcoming game the company was releasing: Mortal Kombat. I ended up staying with Acclaim for nearly three years. The most valuable thing I learned was how it takes a coordinated team and a full organization to successfully bring a product to market, and the importance of listening to the consumer.
- What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
After Acclaim, I spent time at CBS working in live TV operations. After some time, I realized I wanted to get back into the interactive entertainment space, so I left to take a job at The NPD Group. The NPD Group is a massive market research company covering a large number of consumer product categories; they also happened to be the leading market research company for video games. I worked exclusively on the games service. After positions at a couple of other companies, I received a call from PlayStation. This was many years ago, prior to the launch of PlayStation 2. Growing up, I had great admiration for the Sony brand. PlayStation, which was a relatively new product at the time, was bringing incredible innovation to the interactive entertainment industry. From there I flew out to California to join PlayStation, and have been with the company ever since.
I currently have two roles; I oversee marketing for all PlayStation products and services, and I manage the business and operations for PlayStation Network. The latter encompasses our digital business, which has grown dramatically in the time I’ve been here. We’ve gone from just shipping game boxes to retail stores, to building a massive connected community and a wide variety of entertainment products and services delivered through the PlayStation console and other connected devices.
- What advice would you give Hofstra students?
Be open to careers in areas that you might not think you’re interested in. A lot of positions within organizations can go much deeper into a variety of areas that you wouldn’t expect. I personally didn’t expect to be doing what I’m doing today. Keep an open mind about where you want to go. You might surprise yourself and find something you really love. With the pace at which technology and innovation moves these days, you could end up in an area that may not even exist yet.
- In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
- How has your degree helped you?
When I went into work in television, the degree and experience from Hofstra helped me tremendously. From my classes on the technical side of TV production, I was given a position at CBS higher than what they normally give grads fresh out of college. Interestingly enough, currently I produce a large number of TV commercials and I also help lead our efforts around PlayStation Vue, our cloud-based TV streaming service, bringing me full circle back to my days at Hofstra.
- What is your favorite part of working for Sony?
I love the products we create at PlayStation, the nonstop innovation, and the incredible people I get to work with every day. I’m thrilled to work for a brand that millions of people love and are so passionate about.
- What is the best place you've visited for your job?
I travel a lot these days. I’m in Tokyo quite often since our parent company, Sony, is based there. It’s an incredible city that feels so technically advanced. It is a place that is incredibly dense and filled with people, yet it runs with amazing efficiency. The food is also fantastic.
Eric Lempel serves as the senior vice president of marketing and the head of PlayStation Network Americas for Sony Interactive Entertainment.
PlayStation product marketing, brand development, and promotions are his primary responsibilities. He is also responsible for launching and growing network services, such as the cloud-based television service PlayStation Vue. Under Eric’s leadership, the PlayStation Store has grown exponentially to become a top destination for PlayStation games and other forms of entertainment.
Since he joined the company in 2000, Eric has served in a variety of online development and marketing roles for PlayStation. He led the American launch of PlayStation Network in 2006, with the release of PlayStation 3. Eric started his career in the video game industry in 1993, working at a third-party publisher during the 16-bit era. His experience in the industry crosses several areas, including global business management, e-commerce, marketing, online development, and product planning.
Eric Lempel earned a Bachelor of Science from Hofstra University.