With the pivot to an online student experience, the Kilts Center for Marketing put together Marketing Masters, a virtual event series featuring senior-level marketing alumni. Speakers included Rohit Tripathi, ’05, SAP; Scott Uzzell, ’98, Converse; Norman de Greve ’98, CVS; Sandy Stark, ’95, Starbucks; Michael Armstrong, ’02, Paramount Pictures; Leslie Fletcher, ’05, Walmart; and David Neenan, ’95, TransUnion.
The events provided an intimate environment for students to learn about the alum’s career path, engage in a Q&A, and get advice about how to innovate and persevere in uncommon times. We reached out to a few of the students who attended to discuss their key takeaways from the events.
What do these types of events mean to your Booth experience?
Mary Patonai, ‘20: Connecting with alumni helps to round out my previous work experience, what I learn in the classroom, and what I learned in my internship to give me a comprehensive perspective of life after business school.
Annie Pemberton, ‘20: As one of the many ways that learning extends far beyond the classroom, these events are a critical part of my experience as a Booth student. Just like reading a case study, I can learn from the experiences that alumni share with us. They are also an opportunity to connect frameworks that we’re learning in class to situations in the real world. And, hearing alumni share their career path gives me some insight into the breadth of roles available to MBAs.
Rutna Gadh, ‘20: I love seeing the strength of our alumni community, as time and time again, they volunteer to come speak with us. It makes me proud to be part of the Booth community, and I know that when I graduate, I will continue to take any opportunity to connect with students the same way.
Rishi Mehrotra, ‘20: The Booth experience is much more beyond academic rigor. Listening and getting to interact with Booth alum who are successful in their fields gives me confidence.
How, if at all, did the content spark ideas that are valuable to your career?
Julia Chang, ‘20: Rohit spoke a lot about his work at SAP Digital Connect – figuring out the core value proposition, branding, and positioning within the parent company and broader market. As an entrepreneur currently building my own startup Gratitude Plus (launched during my time at Booth), I found his advice around going back to the fundamentals and asking yourself “What value do you provide?” is so important.
Mary: The biggest takeaway I gained from Norman was keeping the consumer front and center in everything we do. This will be especially important as I enter a career in B2C brand management.
Annie: My professional background is in data analytics, but I discovered a passion for marketing at Booth. I first started taking classes in the Marketing department because I was intrigued by some of the advanced analytical courses (e.g., Data Science for Marketing Decision Making). But many people still see “marketing” as more art than science, and I am on a mission to build a career path at the intersection of marketing and analytics. Sandy addressed this when she spoke about how important data has become as Starbucks grows. She gave specific examples of how data is used to drive decision making related to new product innovations, which are valuable to my career in marketing.
Rutna: Michael made a point about approaching our colleagues, teams, and really any one with compassion during COVID-19. Using compassion to lead is something we often hear about but don’t see in practice; I loved this reminder, as we enter into a very different working world .
Jorge Pelaez, ‘20: Leslie’s career path gave me some comfort about my future. It was not a straight path, but the one common trend was that she followed her passions and found companies where she would be able to have that international exposure. As I am preparing to graduate, I am unsure whether I chose the right role and company because of all the opportunities that are available. However, I do know that I am passionate about the work that I will be doing, and I hope that this leads to a career of following my passions.
Was there any advice or points you thought were especially poignant?
Ben Wolff, ‘20: Mr. Uzzell had several pieces of advice that are especially relevant to students either beginning work and internships or continuing their job searches. When thinking about navigating your career, he had three tangible, salient points. First, ensuring that you are doing work that is material and strategic in nature. Second, place yourself in an environment where you’re surrounded by colleagues that will help you learn. Finally, choose positions not just to optimize your future career, but find roles that align with your personal passions. He concluded by saying that if you combine being great at what you are currently doing and your love for it, then only good things will follow. As I begin my career, these will be key pieces of advice to keep in mind.
Annie: Sandy was particularly energetic about new opportunities being created by COVID-19. It was refreshing—and poignant—to hear someone be enthusiastic about the situation. She spoke about how it will spark new industries and how all businesses will have to evolve. Sandy ended her talk by rallying students, saying “You can’t just sprint looking at your feet right now, or else when you look up you might be in the wrong place.” As fresh faces starting roles at new organizations, we have to be excited about the good things that will come in the future from all of this evolution, rather than focusing on what we’ve lost from the past.
Rutna: I loved Michael’s point about relating marketing ourselves to storytelling. It’s a good reminder that no matter what, we are our brands, and we need to continue to build the brand and spread awareness of who we are.
Jorge: Leslie talked about the changes of shopping behavior. It was interesting to see how things might potentially change in the long-term, for example, the changes in shopping hours and types of categories that have become popular. This global pandemic will bring new business opportunities that we need to have our eyes open to.
Rishi: With David, I learned how different companies are thinking differently in the COVID situation. Most are seeing it as a shock to company and economy but still finding creative ways to respond and rather expedite many changes they were working towards.
How did this event highlight something special about Booth?
Julia: I was so impressed by Rohit’s willingness to engage with students, his candor, and generosity with his time—a perfect example of Booth’s “pay-it-forward” culture. Rohit took care to answer every single student question, and he even offered his personal contact information to us. This willingness to help is true throughout the Booth alumni network.
Mary: Norm attended Booth at a time when finance was the end all be all of concentrations at the school, and yet, he chose to pursue a path in marketing. Since then, he has flourished in his many roles with a data-minded approach to marketing, coupled with a clear understanding of behavioral economics in consumer decision-making. This perfectly illustrated all the reasons I came to Booth and everything I have taken away from my time here.
Ben: Seeing over 100 students and alumni on the call from all over the country (and likely the world), and all of Booth’s programs highlighted the breadth and depth of Booth’s community. Even though the format wasn’t what we would have expected just a few months ago, it still gave us an opportunity to feel connected and learn something in the process!