Scotch, Depilatories, Viagra, Leather, and Hipster Glasses

Scotch, Depilatories, Viagra, Leather, and Hipster Glasses

The next few posts on The Booth Experience will be written by first-year students as part of the Career Trek Series. Career Treks at Chicago Booth usually take place during winter break and allow students to visit firms outside of the Chicago area. The treks are coordinated by student groups and expose students to some of the top firms around the world. The first Career Trek Series post is by Ying Liu, who recently attended the Marketing and Retail career treks.

What do the above items have in common? No, they’re not accessories featured in one of Rihanna’s music videos. They’re products made by just a selection of the companies which the Marketing and Retail career treks visited in NYC over winter break.

Career treks are self-funded student-led trips to major cities, typically held the first week of winter break, and last about 4 or 5 days. The treks are divided by careers and intended to give students additional exposure to companies outside of Chicago. Treks include (but are not limited to) careers in Investment Management, Investment Banking, Marketing, Retail, and Sales & Trading in locations such as New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, London, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Students recruiting for careers in these locations choose to attend to get a feel for the company culture, meet Booth alumni working at the firms, and evaluate overall fit.

Even though I’m primarily focused on recruiting for consulting, I’m particularly interested in marketing strategy so I attended these treks as a great way to learn about how marketing departments operate at some top NY-area companies. It was an amazing opportunity to go behind the scenes and hear about companies’ strategies, how they’re adapting to the consumer landscape, and most important to Booth’s marketing approach, how they’re thinking about and planning to use data to better understand their customers. It was also a great way to get outside of the consulting bubble and get to know some of my other classmates.

I got exactly what I was looking for and more in the 4 days we spent visiting 8 companies (American Express, Pfizer, Campbell’s, Warby Parker, Diageo, Coach, Reckitt Benckiser, Kantar). Students on the trek also had the option to visit companies like David Yurman, Quidsi, Interbrand, Kurt Salmon Associates, Macy’s, and Bonobos. I was surprised to learn that American Express encourages their Marketing Managers to rotate groups about every 18 months to allow for cross-fertilization while also allowing employees to try something new. Across the board, the established companies talked about international exchange/rotation opportunities for MBA graduates, indicating the increased global scope of the marketplace.

The most informative and interesting presentation about the role of the Associate Brand Manager (post-MBA entry-level) came from Campbell’s. They walked us through a case study of a recent product extension starting from opportunity identification all the way through to product development and marketing strategy. Representatives from each of the different functions involved in the development process came to speak about their roles; this included people from market research, consumer insights, product development, and package design. It was an interactive presentation and I walked away with a very clear understanding of how an Associate Brand Manager coordinates and makes decisions through the process.

It wasn’t all business on the trek: we were allowed to preview the spring collection at Coach (I see lots of coral as the weather warms up!) and given access to the Campbell’s company store where we stocked up on Pepperidge Farm cookies and Goldfish. The best part was when Diageo made us some yummy whiskey cocktails from their on-site bar and invited us to taste various Johnnie Walker labels at their exclusive SoHo House of Walker scotch education and tasting experience – one of their many grassroots marketing tactics.

All of the companies were very excited to discuss their businesses with us and to recruit new talent from Booth. For example, American Express told us that they see some of the highest retention and performance/promotion rates from Booth graduates. The week not only gave participating students a chance to get to know the companies, but for the companies, it also cemented the fact that Booth is a great source of marketing talent.

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