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Catching Up with Reena Vokoun ’98

Read about Wisconsin School of Business graduate Reena Vokoun ’98 and her 25 years of accomplishment.

Esther Seidlitz
December 21, 2022

Twenty-five years after graduating from the Wisconsin School of Business (WSB), Reena Vokoun ’98 is running her own wellness company, Passion Fit, guiding and improving the direction of the school through the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship’s advisory board, and starring in WSB marketing campaigns to inspire the next generation of business leaders. Read more from Vokoun as she reflects on her time at the UW and celebrates 25 years of subsequent success.

What accomplishments or projects are you most proud of working on in the last 25 years?

Publishing my first book, called The Wellness-Empowered Woman. I published that in June of 2021. That was huge. Also, I gave my first TEDx Talk in Los Angeles, and that was in November of 2020. Those were two big career goals that I had, so it was really cool to accomplish those in the last two years. Starting my own company, Passion Fit. I started that in 2014. So being able to take a passion that I have for health and wellness, being able to work with corporations and nonprofits and universities and other organizations, and helping people to flourish personally and professionally through wellness. That’s my mission.

I’m very proud of my whole tech career. I spent 16 to 17 years working in digital media and technology. I worked for Google for about six and a half years. I worked for Yahoo. I did digital advertising and marketing for Reebok out in Boston. I worked for CNET, another big technology company, and GE.

I’m proud of graduating from the School of Business. To this day, I have so much pride in that school just because it continues to climb up the rankings in terms of the quality of the education, the quality of the curriculum, the professors, the staff, and the career development resources there.

I served on the Wisconsin Business Alumni Board for the Wisconsin School of Business as the chair and the vice chair, and I’m currently on the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship advisory alumni board for the School of Business. Being on boards at the university has been wonderful. Because now I have business experience — I went to graduate school, I’ve done all these other things. And so now I can look at it from the perspective of, how can we improve the curriculum? How can we elevate the experience for our students? And how do we keep more alumni engaged throughout the country and the world? I take a lot of pride in that. I’m so passionate about the school, even to this day. 

Being part of the Trusted to Lead campaign for the Wisconsin School of Business last year in January. I was one of six alumni that were selected for this marketing campaign. And it was all about featuring alumni — we all do different things — but [highlighting] the fact that we are trusted to lead in the work that we’re doing, and that it was our time at Wisconsin that really gave us that foundation and that confidence and that spirit to go out there and lead. They really captured my business, what I’m passionate about, my whole time at Wisconsin and how that’s shaped me into who I am today. And that was just such an honor to be asked to be a part of that.

I loved teaching fitness classes on campus, and at that time, I had no idea that it would launch me into such a love for health and wellness that I would later start my own company. There are many aspects to my company, but offering signature fitness classes is one small part of it. I do a lot more with speaking and writing and coaching and consulting and working with organizations on employee wellbeing. But that fitness part of it is just such a sweet memory and something that I enjoyed doing so much.

And then of course, marrying my husband, who's a fellow Badger. Having our two kids and just being able to share my love of education with them through my own college experiences.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on my second book, so that’s exciting. It’ll be a follow-up to the first book. And then my focus with Passion Fit is — I wouldn’t say that it’s changing because the core mission is still there. But I focus on both consumer and corporate wellness. So, I work with individuals and build communities, especially communities of professional women, to help empower them to leverage wellness to be successful in their personal and professional life. But what I’m also very passionate about is working with companies and organizations, especially because I worked in corporate America for so long and I’ve seen so much burnout, and so much physical health and mental health that has been compromised with the pandemic the last three years.

In 2023, as I look to the future, I’m still staying true to the core mission, but I’m really trying to double down on the corporate wellness side. And that’s how I can really reach more organizations with training and coaching and consulting and development on employee engagement, health, and wellbeing, so that they can be more productive and more successful in their jobs, both outside of work and inside of work.

Are there any courses or professors from the UW that have had a lasting influence on you?

Intro to marketing was huge because it really solidified my love of marketing, and the fact that I would major in that. And marketing has gone on to be the center of my career, not only in corporate America, but I do a lot of marketing and advertising in my company for Passion Fit now. I studied advertising and communications at graduate school at Boston University, but it really came from that first marketing course — majoring in marketing and management at the business school at Wisconsin.

Also, the consumer behavior course that I took — I remember that had a very profound effect on me because I’m a people person through and through. A lot of the work that I do is driven by helping others and making a positive impact on other people. So, understanding consumer behavior — why people make the decisions they do, why they think the way they do, how their lives affect them, their families, and how that also affects their purchasing decisions and the brands that they want to be affiliated with and be a part of — that was really huge.

What’s your best memory from your time on campus?

To this day, I think I have not had ice cream that’s better than the Babcock ice cream cones. My favorite memories on campus — it was fun to share it with my brother who was a year older. So, for a couple of those years we were both there. It was nice to have family on campus. Some of my best friends from the Chi Omega sorority, many of them were in the business school with me as well, and we’re all still friends. I have great memories of living in the sorority house with them, going to the football games, and studying together. It’s nice to be able to still have those friendships intact all these years later. So, those memories will stay with me forever. And those friendships started at Wisconsin. That’s probably what I remember and cherish the most from my time there — the friendships and the people.

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