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Here’s to you, Class of ’22

By Center for Brand and Product Management

May 14, 2022

Class of 2022

This May twenty-one students studying brand and product management became MBAs. We invite you to get to know our newest alumni: what they think about their time in the program, what’s next, and what advice they have for the next generation of students.

Marina Bloomer

Marina Bloomer, MBA

Marina is an engineer at heart. She came to UW-Madison with a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University and a MS in Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Marina saw opportunity to open her own business. But she wanted to learn more about the business fundamentals and about creating and maintaining a successful brand. Marina put her entrepreneurship classes to the test while a student and launched Stellar Tech Girls; a company that empowers and inspires girls to see their potential as engineers. Get to know more about Marina and Stellar Tech girls in this article she wrote about starting a business while still in business school.

Connie Cannizzaro

Connie Cannizzaro

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University, Connie took a role at Uniform Color Company. She often found herself inspired by customer satisfaction and developing products that improve lives which led her to an MBA in marketing. Upon graduation, Connie will be starting the General Management Development Program and Danaher.

Jennifer Dyken

Jennifer Dyken

After Jennifer earned her undergraduate degree in biology she spent five years in various healthcare roles, including her most recent position at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. There she met several coworkers who had MBAs and says “once I understood the full scope of what an MBA could offer, I was adamant that I wanted to pursue my degree in Madison.” During her time at WSB Jennifer was a member of the GBA, the CBPM Community Committee, and led the Center for Brand and Product Management internship interview training for the class of 2023. Her favorite event was the Spring Ball, an event that unfortunately her class only got to have once due to COVID.

Post graduation, Jennifer will be working in a market access role as part of her first rotation in AstraZeneca’s Commercial Leadership Development Program. She looks forward to utilizing her prior healthcare experience combined with her MBA education. Soon she’ll make her move to the East Coast, but as a life-long Midwesterner she’ll for sure be back to visit. “I’m looking forward to visiting some of my favorite places around Madison as an alum; satiating my sweet tooth at Madison Sourdough, watching the Willy Street Fair, grazing at Graze, catching a match at Breese Stevens Field, and pigging out at A Pig in a Fur Coat.”

What should people know about the past two years of getting your MBA?

“These were far and away the most challenging and transformative years of my life. I accomplished more than I could have hoped for, failed many times, learned many lessons, and am incredibly grateful for my time in this program and everyone who helped me along the way.”

What advice do you have for your first years and/or incoming students?

“Take risks. Don’t be afraid to try something new, boldly pursue the career you want, seek help from instructors and classmates, or even fail. You will inevitably do all of these things in your time as an MBA student and any single experience can help you get to where you want to be after graduation.”

Tyler Eilenfeldt

Tyler at Graduation

Tyler grew up in the Madison area and attended UW-La Crosse for undergrad. Grad school was always a consideration for Tyler but when my undergrad roommate visited in Florida and talked about his experience in the MBA program at Wisconsin, Tyler became more enticed. He says “then this little pandemic hit and I decided it was now or never.”  During his MBA, Tyler enjoyed going to volleyball, basketball and football games with fellow students. Conversing with everybody and playing darts at TAPS as well as stopping at Vintage with fellow brandies after applied learnings.

What advice do you have for your first years and/or incoming students?

“Don’t get too stressed out, enjoy the experience because before you know it you will be filling out an alumni survey reflecting on your time in the MBA program.” 

Brandon Evans

Brandon Evans

Brandon is now a double badger. He received his bachelor’s in psychology from UW-Madison in 2013. It was during his time as an undergraduate that Brandon first became interested in getting an MBA. In between degrees, Brandon moved to California. There he founded a software company and then took on multiple roles at Petrol Advertising. Now that he is an MBA, Brandon will be starting as a Founding Product Manager at Morty.

Rebekah Hastings

Rebekah Hastings

Rebekah hails from Chicago, Il. It was there that she completed her bachelor of music undergraduate degree from DePaul University. After college, Rebekah took on sales roles. Where she was consistently a top producer. The disruption caused by covid allowed her an opportunity to reassess her career goals. It was then that she decided to pursue an MBA in Brand and Product Management. Rebekah is a person who likes to stay busy and her time during the MBA was no different. However, she made time to impress us all with her musical skills. She gave an amazing flute performance during International Night at WSB. After graduation, Rebekah will be starting as a Senior Consultant at Cognizant.

Andrew Hendricks

Andrew Hendricks

Andrew graduated from UW-Milwaukee in 2014 with a BBA with an emphasis in Marketing. Immediately after graduation he started a role with Modine Manufacturing as a Marketing Specialist. After 3 years at Modine he was ready for a new challenge that would allow him to work with a larger brand in a more consumer facing environment. So he took a role at GE Healthcare where I worked as a Exhibits and Events Specialist. While at GE I focused on managing cross functional teams and leading tradeshows for multiple product lines. Getting my MBA was always a goal of his and felt it was a great opportunity to add to my marketing experience, improve my entrepreneurial skills, and build my leadership and management skills.

While a student Andrew was the Treasurer of the Graduate Marketing Network. And was part of several intramural sports teams such as: Soccer, Futsol, Kickball, and Softball. His favorite events though would have to be the tailgates and TAPS. “It was a great way to network outside of the classroom and bond over Wisconsin sports” he says. 

Post graduation Andrew will be going to Italy, France, and Spain for two weeks with a few other classmates from the program. After that he’ll be starting at SC Johnson as an Associate Brand Manager.

What should people know about the past two years of getting your MBA?

“While I was a student at the Wisconsin School of Business, I was very impressed with the alumni network. All the alumni that I reached out to were more than happy to give me the time of day and provide great advice.” 

What advice do you have for your first years and/or incoming students?

“For incoming students my best advice is to join clubs, go to taps, join intramural teams, and enjoy your time. It flies by.”

Stephanie Kind

Stephanie Kind

After graduating with a degree in Political Science from UCLA in 2009, Stephanie commissioned as an Intelligence officer in the US Navy. She spent 7 years active duty, where she had the opportunity to deploy around the world and lead teams of sailors and analysts in high stress, time sensitive, situations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Constant deployment was hard on her family however, and in 2017, she moved home to Wisconsin and transferred to the Navy Reserves. Leaning in on her leadership experience from her military career, Stephanie then pursued her goal of starting a business, opening her own restaurant, Black Walnut Kitchen. She owned and operated the restaurant for 3 years, and this experience paved the way for her next goal-an MBA. Stephanie says “I loved the marketing aspect of running my own business, and the fast-paced, cross functional role of my job in the Navy, and in 2020 I decided to pursue a career in Brand Management and start my MBA at UW Madison”.

While a student Stephanie enjoyed Applied Learnings, as it provided the opportunity to learn about different companies and roles and network. And outside of the classroom she enjoyed listening to speakers, attending Women in Business evets, and occasionally attending TAPS. Soon Stephanie will be returning to Kimberly-Clark as an Associate Brand Manager. “I am very excited to be returning to Cottonelle, the brand team I interned with last summer” she says. She will also continue in the Navy Reserves in her role as the Operations Officer for her current command. Until then she’s ready to take a few weeks of a break during which she’s taking her son on his first international trip in Costa Rica.

What should people know about the past two years of getting your MBA?

“The specialized program at UW Madison is really unique and I feel that it has really has prepared me for my future role as a brand manager. I am also really grateful for the diversity of people I have met during my time in this MBA programs; the spectrum of backgrounds has provided multiple perspectives and enriched the overall experience.”

What advice do you have for your first years and/or incoming students?

“Its important to take full advantage of the MBA experience, but don’t overextend yourself, as this can cause burnout. Choose the classes, clubs, and events that are most meaningful to you and your overall goals. Being selective will allow you to truly enjoy and get the most from your experience!”

Ashwin Maheshwari

Ash Maheshwari

Though his undergraduate degree was in marketing, Ash started his career in finance. Most recently he worked for JP Morgan Chase. But he wanted to pivot to a brand management role, so he started reaching out to WSB alums. He was ready to get a hands-on approach with the Applied Learnings. Next up, Ash will be doing the MBA Leadership Development Program for General Management at BASF.

What advice do you have for your first years and/or incoming students?

“You’ll be given every opportunity, make sure that you seize the ones that make you your best.”

Caroline McCool

Caroline McCool

Caroline graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Business Administration. Caroline’s goal is to take on a marketing leadership role driving success and sustainability. She enjoys rowing, violin, and hiking. Next up for Caroline: she will be heading to Ohio where she’ll serve as an Associate Marketing Manager for Nestle USA.

Thomas Meaney

Thomas Meaney

Thomas is originally from Los Angeles, but has enjoyed the past two years in Madison. After a prior career in video production, Thomas knew he wanted to shift to a role in brand management in the CPG space, and “realized that WSB was the perfect place to do that!” During school you could find Thomas at Data Analytics Club or Food and Wine Club events or biking around Madison. In addition to those clubs he served as President of the GBA. The Advisory Board Dinners stand out in his mind as favorite times here. He says “It was so wonderful for all the different generations to come together, to learn about the of the origins of the program, to hear stories of what the careers were like of the people who came before us, and to imagine what ours are going to be like”.

Thomas will be returning to Kimberly-Clark to work on the Kleenex brand, which he interned on. “I’m looking forward to applying all the tools I learned during my MBA to real-world problems” he says. He is also looking forward to meeting his new niece and spending time with his girlfriend this summer. As well as meeting a number of Wisconsin MBAs from the class of 2020 at a wedding in Cincinnati. In the long term, he’s ready to do whatever he can to help new students feel welcome at Wisconsin.

What should people know about the past two years of getting your MBA?

“I enjoyed the camaraderie here and feel that one of the program’s biggest assets is the true spirit of helpfulness that exists between students.”

What advice do you have for your first years and/or incoming students?

“My advice is to think about your MBA experience as if you’re writing a book: take risks, go big, include lots of different scenes, make sure and take plenty of pictures, and include as many characters as possible!”

Joseline Nyinawabera

Joseline Nyinawabera

Joseline completed her BBA in marketing from UW-Madison in 2013. From there she started with Mondelez International in Arizona. After a few roles Joseline was back in Madison and wanted to enhance her strategic branding skills. Returning to the WSB was a natural fit. She says “the school’s value of Together Forward aligns with my commitment to serve and improve the lives of others”. When she has a free moment, Joseline enjoys brunch, traveling, and African and Salsa Dancing. As well as serving her community through her beloved organizations Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and Urban League Young Professionals.

Now that she’s once again a graduate, Joseline will be heading back to Arizona for the Sales and Marketing Rotational Program at Intel Corporation. And will be continuing her work with her business BLKBLD & Co. Before that she’ll be the keynote speaker for UW-Madison’s Women and Leadership Symposium. Read more about Joseline’s keynote Brand Like Beyoncé – Building an Authentic and Strong Personal Brand here.

Liana Richardson

Liana Richardson

Originally from Maine, Liana earned a degree in Fashion Design from Philadelphia University. It was a role as a product designer for Mattel’s American Girl that brought her to the Madison area. After graduating, Liana returns to Procter & Gamble, where she completed her internship, for a role as a Senior Brand Manager.

What advice do you have for your first years and/or incoming students?

“Talk to as many current students and alumni as possible! Take advantage of the resources available to you and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

Charlie Scott

Charlie Scott

Charlie is a Milwaukee native, Dartmouth grad, avid skier, wine lover and proud dog dad. With 10 years of experience building, launching and scaling new products and brands across enterprise technology, payments and retail, he is passionate about wrapping brands around emerging technologies and bringing them to market. During his MBA, Charlie was President of the Entrepreneurship Club; Lead Consultant of the Wienert Center Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic; and Development Chair for the Graduate Business Administration. But his favorite moment was the Advisory Board Dinner.

Charlie looks forward to building a new path down to the lake at his family’s cabin in northern Wisconsin. Charlie is looking forward to playing a go-to-market leadership role in B2B tech. As an alum Charlie is ready to help out with Applied Learnings and Recruiting!

What advice do you have for your first years and/or incoming students?

“Leverage the alumni network!”

Devon Smith

Devon Smith Headshot

Devon came to Madison as the Athletic Director of West High School. She says “after a life altering car accident, I knew I needed to pivot careers. After starting with a Pharmaceutical Startup, I quickly knew I wanted to get my MBA to advance my career in the business world.” During her time as a student Devon participated in the Consulting Club, Data Analytics Club, and Women in Business. She thoroughly enjoyed attending the Weikel Speaker Series. Though as an alum she looks most forward to helping with Applied Learnings and mock interviews, perhaps one day we’ll see her take the stage at her own Weikel to inspire the next generation of business leaders.

Post-graduation Devon, her husband, and their dogs, will be moving to their new home in Colorado and fixing it up before she starts at Danaher in the General Management Development Program.

How do you feel about your time spent getting your MBA?

“It was the fastest two years of my life.” 

What advice do you have for your first years and/or incoming students?

“Cry, Dance, and get over it. Some things will be hard. You need to give yourself time and space to feel that things are hard, then you have to perk up and move on because it will be okay and you will eventually sleep.”

Alyssa Spiel

Alyssa Spiel

Alyssa is another one of this class’ double badgers. She graduated with degrees in English and Journalism from UW-Madison. From there Alyssa served in multiple marketing manager roles in Wisconsin and California. It was at Slipstream, a nonprofit organization specializing in the development and implementation of energy efficiency programs, that she met an alum from the brand and product management specialization. They encouraged her put her curiosity of why certain brands evoke emotions and her drive to advance her career to use by returning to school for an MBA. Alyssa is looking forward to her upcoming wedding. As well as starting in a position at a company whose core values reflect and encourage collaboration, integrity, work-life balance, employee growth and development, and sustainability.

Annie Tollefson

Annie Tollefson

Annie received her degree in hospitality management from the University of South Carolina. Since then she has taken on a wide variety of professional roles, from an overseas English teacher to a pastry chef, from a sales executive to a flight attendant. Annie was ready to do more of what she enjoys: attacking complicated business problems and coming up with creative solutions as a team. So she decided to pursue her MBA. Annie is staying in Madison for her full time role. She will be doing the General Management Leadership Development Program at American Family Insurance.

Aldo Vacco

Aldo Vacco

Aldo originally studied Human Biology and Microbiology at Michigan State University. Aldo’s career has taken him into the operating room as a Neurophysiologist. It was there that he began to understand the vast amount of opportunities available in the non-clinical side of the healthcare. To reach his goal of becoming a product manager in the biotech industry, Aldo turned to getting an MBA at the Wisconsin School of Business. Aldo’s is looking forward to working in a role that puts to use his passion to help people and have a positive impact on his community.

Owen Wade

Owen Wade Headshot

Owen Wade received his BA from the University of Iowa with a double major in Cinema and Art. While pursuing his degree and taking courses in a variety of subjects, Owen developed an interest in science, and found a student position in a research lab specializing in rare genetic disorders. After graduation, Owen joined the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics full time and became a research associate for a variety of clinical trials. While continuing to work in research full time, Owen utilized his degree in cinema and art and launched his own video production company where he created a variety of video marketing campaigns for entrepreneurs and startups in partnership with a regional business accelerator. During this time, Owen became became increasingly interested in marketing, storytelling, and helping brands connect with consumers which is why he decided it get an MBA. 

Immediately after graduating Owen is zipping off to Scotland. There he’ll be in places like Edinburgh sampling local delicacies like haggis, or in the Cairngorms National Park exploring the peatlands. Then Owen is joining Moxe, a Madison-based healthcare startup, as a strategic marketing manager. He is looking forward to developing strategic business recommendations to promote the company’s growth. And is very excited about the company’s mission which aims to reduce administrative waste in healthcare. 

Alexandra Weaver

Alex Weaver

Alex knows the industry she wants to work in. She’s held jobs in every corner of the wine industry: retail, distribution, etc.. Eventually Alex would like to own her own business. That’s why she decided to come back to school for an MBA. Her first degree is in Political Science from Scripps College in Claremont, California. While at WSB, Alex used her certification as a Sommelier to impress the members of the Food and Wine Club. Now that she’s graduated, Alex will be starting with Frank Beverage Group as a Wine Brand Manager.

Chris Wiesneski

Chris Wiesneski

Before joining the US Army, Chris completed a psychology degree with a minor in theatre from UW-Oshkosh. During his career in the Army, he used his natural leadership skills to rise through the ranks. After eight years of service, in Fort Drum, NY and Afghanistan, Chris was ready to return to civilian life and Wisconsin. An MBA was the perfect use of his leadership, social, and organizational skills. It will set him on a path of success in Business. The next step for Chris is heading to SC Johnson for a full time role as an Associate Manager.