Michael Vigeant, the President & CEO of GreatBlue Research Inc., understands the importance of forming relationships and connecting with people. A 1998 graduate with a major in Communications and Media Studies, Sacred Heart University prepared Michael for his leadership role and future in market research. A business man, community volunteer, and father of two, he continues to be inspired by his past experiences.
For Michael, the significance of networking was a skill he learned early in life. At the age of 12, Michael was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s disease. It was at a camp for children with cancer that Michael met the man who would become his mentor, business partner, and longtime friend. Jerry C. Lindsley, founder of The Center for Research and Public Policy, influenced Michael, both as a camp counselor and a business role model. “I now have a career that was founded upon the ideas of a man who gave back to help others.” Michael’s first business connection was formed in the most unlikely of places, yet he has continued this tradition of giving back and has not forgotten the importance of personal relationships.
Michael transferred into Sacred Heart as a junior. “I wanted to be in an area where, geographically, I felt part of and close to business hubs such as Boston and NYC. I felt there were more opportunities here to network and form business relationships.” When deciding to attend SHU, Michael formed a special connection with then-Undergraduate Admissions counselor, Kathy Dilks: “Kathy is one of the main reasons I decided to come to SHU. I felt like more of a desired candidate and less of a number.” Michael’s entrance into Sacred Heart as a transfer student strengthened his communication skills. “I had to do a quick study of the people. I had to figure out where I fit in, where my skills lied, and how to get acquainted with a new group of people. That has helped me immensely in my business career.”
Immersing himself into a group of strangers is one thing Michael does often as head of GreatBlue Research, a company that designs and implements innovate research methods. Having personally moderated over 400 focus groups for clients ranging from McDonald’s Restaurants to Connecticut Water, Michael has utilized the communications skills that he learned both in and out of the Sacred Heart classroom. “I’ve fallen in love with this industry. I like the fact that I get to work with all kinds of decision makers and I enjoy the variety of things I can do.” Transferring into SHU not only ensured Michael would receive a quality education, but his experience transitioning into a new community was invaluable.
Michael strongly believes in the importance of giving back. GreatBlue Research supports organizations such as the Special Olympics, Live-Kind, and Make-A-Wish Foundation. Michael’s experience with cancer at such a young age and his interactions with Jerry Lindsley have inspired him to volunteer and stay connected to the community. Most recently, a GreatBlue Research partnership with PGA TOUR golfer, Mark Wilson, sparked yet another opportunity to help those in need. In meeting Wilson and his wife, Amy, Michael learned about the PGA TOUR Wives Association: a not-for-profit corporation gaining support for and providing assistance to needy children and their families. Amy’s dedication as president of the Association inspired GreatBlue Research and they were proud to donate to the cause.
A 2012 Hartford Business Journal “40 Under Forty” Award Winner, Michal Vigeant understands the significance of developing a fast growing company. His experiences at SHU prepared him for this aspect of his career. “My time at Sacred Heart was a big time of change. For example, I lived in the Fairfield Motor Inn my senior year. Things aren’t always easy during growth, but you see this as a part of the deal towards the end result. That experience was instrumental as I launched my company, which grew very quickly.” Michael’s knowledge of communications and networking have been shaped and molded since his time at summer camp. SHU gave Michael a unique opportunity and one he is most thankful for. “I am proud of my Sacred Heart education.”