As my first year of the MBA program comes to a close, I finally have the time to reflect on all that I’ve learned this year. The experience has been challenging and at times uncomfortable, but ultimately transformative. We all come to the Wisconsin School of Business from vastly different backgrounds, but with a common goal; To soak up knowledge from the best professors and alumni in the country (I might be biased), and to grow as leaders. As I head into my internship with Procter & Gamble, I feel prepared with an arsenal of knowledge from classes and an eagerness to learn. Every course was incredible, but one in particular that stands out is Jan Heide’s Marketing Management course.
This core course encourages students to think about the implications of marketing on broader organizational success. Not only is it crucial to the foundational skills of marketers, but this class also promotes alignment across specializations on the value of effective marketing. As the future leaders of decision-making units within a company, Jan taught us how to work together to solve valuable problems for a business.
Anyone that has seen Jan in action can agree that he is incredibly engaging and an expert in his field. He thoughtfully assembled the most impactful readings and cases to establish our knowledge of market segmentation, customer relations, positioning, competitor analysis, bringing new products to market, and more. Jan consistently offered book recommendations to students that wanted more and took the time to meet weekly one-on-one with students that had never been introduced to marketing concepts prior to the class.
We worked in our cross-functional core teams on cases that required financial analysis, brand strategy, marketing analytics, pricing, business strategy, and general intuition. The case subjects ranged from plumbing fixtures and fittings, tech startups, construction equipment, regional breweries, and even the launch of Cialis!
There are a few key takeaways from Jan’s class that have made me feel particularly prepared for my summer internship with P&G. The first is an understanding of the challenges in updating or innovating an established brand to improve customer acquisition or attract a new customer segment, without alienating core customers or tarnishing brand equity. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to this type of business challenge, I feel equipped with an informed perspective and an idea of how to approach these questions in my internship.
My second takeaway from this class is the importance of cross-functional collaboration. Our core teams were intended to be a small-scale representation of the business units within a company, and Brand Managers are expected to be “the hub of the wheel” in an organization. This class taught me exactly who to reach out to when I’m faced with a brand/marketing problem. As a marketer I will need insight and buy-in from stakeholders in other departments that may not see things through the same lens. Working cross-functionally taught me to work tactfully with partners to reach a common goal and strengthen a brand.
Marketing Management gave me the fundamental skills I need to be successful in my internship, as well as the confidence to ask the right questions. This first year was a monumental leap in my personal and professional growth, and I feel fully equipped to reenter the professional world as an intern, and as a Business Badger.