Students from the Center for Brand & Product Management had a unique opportunity to join the A.C. Nielsen Center’s Alumni and Friends Summit. This is a biennial educational conference; each one features a new theme to guide its discussion and industry topics. This year’s theme was “Leading Through Disruption,” and provided UW-Madison A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research and Center for Brand and Product Management MBA students the opportunity to learn about marketing trends and case studies driving the industry’s innovation and foresight.
I am only two months into my first year of the MBA program, and have already been offered more information sessions and networking opportunities than I can count. Despite the familiar Fluno Center lobbies and coffee stations, each of these experiences has been unique, encouraging, and beneficial. Alumni and other industry professionals greet the Wisconsin School of Business with such respect and explosive passion that I am constantly reassured of my industry choice and continue to stack up the tools to prepare for my future career. As a career switcher, I find it critical to take notes and engage in each panel discussion and session I attend. Each talk helps me to further learn about marketing and allows me to tie my background in hospitality (which is why I notice the coffee stations) into this new industry also dedicated to people and their journey. There is never a lack of diversity and experience among presenters, and understanding their stories and message helps me to see the direction the industry is going and helps guide me towards areas I can make a difference.
The exposure to cutting-edge topics like omni-channels and data driven disruption ties lessons from the classroom into solutions and applications that professionals are actually using today. My class of 2020 just finished an accelerated course called Data to Decisions. This excel and statistics driven course was packed with arbitrary number limits and disproven hypotheses, that most days left us in a haze asking “what did we conclude from all these p-values?!!” But this Friday in the Fluno Center, listening to a discussion on blending data mining with creativity, I saw the relevance and application of our data analytics. Opportunities to learn from industry leaders and be a part of the discussion is the unique and advanced edge that the Wisconsin School of Business gives its MBA students.
Perhaps the best treat of all is the willingness and excitement Wisconsin Alum and other professionals dedicate to networking with students. Refreshment breaks between sessions are the best opportunity to catch up with a presenter whose talk peeked your interest, or a person whose question you found thoughtful. Between pours of coffee, I met attendees from Washington State and New Jersey, both places I have lived and could chat about for hours. Next year when I am in the comfortable seat of a second-year Brand student, my passing bit of knowledge will be to take advantage of every session, case study, and coffee break available. The Wisconsin School of Business allows us this unique chance to network and learn from Marketing leaders, and you never know who might grab the coffee mug next to yours.