Joe Zenas will serve as 2019 Music commencement speaker

Thinkwell CEO and Music alumnus returns to campus to address graduating class.

Video courtesy of the MSU Alumni Office.


The Michigan State University College of Music is pleased to announce that Joe Zenas will be the keynote speaker at its 2019 spring commencement exercises. Zenas is the chief executive officer of Thinkwell, a design and production agency headquartered in Los Angeles with offices and studios in Beijing, Abu Dhabi, Montréal, and Riyadh.

Thinkwell specializes in the creation and master planning of theme parks, resorts, major branded and intellectual property attractions, events, museums, exhibits, expos, and live shows. As CEO, Mr. Zenas is responsible for leading the direction of the company and establishing new growth opportunities, corporate strategies, strategic alliances, and intellectual property partnerships.

A graduate of Music at MSU in 1990 with a Bachelor of Music degree in trumpet performance and cognates in philosophy, computer science, and economics, Zenas has been instrumental in building Thinkwell’s reputation for masterfully dealing with some of the world’s most cherished brands and intellectual properties. Prior to joining Thinkwell, he spent four years with Universal Studios’ Creative Group as a producer and director of the Creative Studio where he oversaw the concept development of new shows and attractions for Universal’s properties around the world.

”I can distinctly remember when Joe was a creative undergraduate student in the MSU School of Music at the time, representing MSU at the highest level every week on the field at Spartan Stadium as a member of the famous Spartan Marching Band,” said College of Music Dean James Forger. “He was very talented and driven in every aspect of his studies and musical practice. I have continued to watch from afar as Joe’s career has skyrocketed, creating a distinctive niche among the top echelon of the entertainment and production industry.”

As part of the college’s Running Start multi-disciplinary program that helps equip students for life as a working musician, Zenas last spent time on MSU’s campus when he visited for three days in fall 2018 to present workshops on the entertainment industry, scoring music for theme parks, and entertainment and culture in Saudi Arabia. He also met one-on-one with students to talk about their own professional goals and share his experiences in high-level project management with some of the most well-known brands in the country.

“We are delighted to welcome him back this spring,” Forger said of Zenas, “and we’re certain his message to our graduates will be insightful and inspiring.”

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