The Kilts Center for Marketing at Booth recently hosted the second annual Marketing Day Forum that brings together students and industry leaders. Through round-table discussions with distinguished Booth Marketing alumni, students have the opportunity to ask questions and have candid conversations about everything from the alumni’s background to successfully navigating a career in Marketing. At the forum and subsequent dinner, I witnessed interesting discussions and had my own burning questions answered.
Round Table 1: Sally Grimes, `97 (Group President- Tyson Foods)
A few months ago, I had read a profile about Sally’s work when she was featured on the cover of the Chicago Booth Magazine as a distinguished alumna. So naturally when I saw that she would be hosting a roundtable discussion at the marketing forum I was eager to sign-up for a slot. Sally surprised all of us by saying her intent when coming into business school was to go into Investment Banking and not Marketing.
It was the fateful day when she attended an on-campus presentation by Jim Kilts (of Kilts Center fame) that made her consider brand management as a career. Leveraging the opportunity that business school opened for her and utilizing the practical approach to business that UChicago teaches, she was able to develop her view on brand management by thinking about how her work connects to the objective of the overall business. Sally said her secret sauce was a blend of having ideas for the future with practicality.
While it was amazing to listen to Sally discuss the importance of having a suite of growth models and how she integrates her work with her life, for me the best part of the discussion was the advice Sally gave to us graduating second years when she said, “When thinking about your future, don’t think about what you want to be, think about who you want to be.”
Round Table 2: Jim Kilts, `74 (Founding Partner- Centerview Capital)
Right after hearing Sally say how instrument Jim Kilts was in her choosing to pursue a career in marketing, I had the opportunity to go sit next to Jim himself. The thing that struck me about Jim was his humility and the level of gratitude he had for his time at Booth.
Jim came to Booth because Milton Friedman was his idol, but the comfort with data he gained during his time with the school quickly became his competitive advantage. “Everything I was successful at I can point to a class at Booth that taught me how to do it.”
When asked about his principles for success, Jim said:
- Understand with clarity of thought what the situation is that you are dealing with and have a sense of intellectual integrity.
- Have a high level of enthusiasm for what you are doing and hire people who have it too. If you like your job, you will show it.
- Create some action quickly. You can make a decision pretty quickly on common sense and data.
- Know your consumer better than anybody else.
- If you don’t know the answer, don’t try to fake it. Learn early and if you need help (and you always need help) find the smart people who can help.
Marketing Forum Dinner
Following the forum, I had the opportunity to have dinner with many other distinguished Booth Marketing alumni, as well as the Kilts fellows and scholars. This setting lent itself to many more interesting and informal discussions about how alumni have navigated their post MBA careers and the key steps they have taken to achieve success. As someone who is soon to embark on that path myself, I was left with many words of wisdom on how to think about that journey ahead.