Skip to main content

Choosing a Marketing Specialization

By Laura Creese

October 24, 2023

Unforeseen Dilemma

When I chose Wisconsin for my MBA, I thought I knew for sure which specialization within marketing that I wanted to pursue. As a biology undergrad, I figured a path through analytics and insights for my graduate degree was right up my alley. I knew that I could transfer my STEM experience using experimental methods over nicely in my career pivot to marketing. That is, until my first day with my fellow Class of 2024 Marketing MBA cohort, during our Marketing Bootcamp, where I was introduced to brand management.

Laura Creese, Joe Foye, Javi Reza, and Raheel on the specialization day of Orientation 2022.

I had never really considered a career in brand management before and didn’t even really know what it was. What was the different between the two? Is one better than the other? Which specialization will allow me to round out my skills as a marketer and advance in the company? I was utterly fascinated with how the different specializations function and what sort of role I could land post-graduation within each. But I knew one thing was certain: I was in the right place.

To Brand or Not to Brand?

After further learning in Bootcamp how I could be the “hub of the wheel” in a brand management role, I started looking more into what this career path would look like. I loved the idea of getting to make big business decisions and decide the fate of whatever brand I worked on. Owning the P&L, working with cross-functional teams – it all seemed so fascinating. I started to ask my second-year mentors and Badger alumni about the pros and cons of each specialization and how they work in their roles so I could make a more informed decision on my academic path. Brand management seemed like so much fun – but insights seemed truly fascinating and exciting. Come November of my first semester as an MBA candidate, though, I had to make a decision.

Jan’s Influence

It all came together for me in October in Jan Heide’s Marketing Management class. Throughout every class session and every marketing case, I found myself wanting to probe and further question the presented information. What were the consumer insights on that business decision? How do we know that this is the case? Could the firm look at another cut of this data to make a more informed decision? These were the questions I wanted to ask and truly enjoyed thinking about. When I reflect back on this time, it should have been immediately obvious to me that insights was the right career path. I loved learning about the consumer and what makes them tick. And I desperately wanted to analyze the information given to make informed business recommendations.

The Internship

Laura's PepsiCo Badge for her internship

I decided to firmly commit to the analytics and insights specialization when I signed my internship offer. Planning to work in Shopper Insights at PepsiCo in Chicago for summer 2023. My experience at Pepsi only further confirmed my love for insights. I really enjoyed, and felt so fulfilled in, my work in my internship. At Pepsi, I truly felt that my work mattered and I, as an insights professional, was respected and admired for my analytical acumen. I also had my specialization specific classes such as Qualitative Insights and Marketing Analytics to thank as they prepared me well for my internship and made the transition from business student to marketing intern as seamless as possible.

Best of Both Worlds

Ultimately, I am so glad that I decided on analytics and insights as my marketing specialization within the Wisconsin MBA. Every class I have taken so far, and every analytics and insights alumni I have spoken to, has only further confirmed, starting my marketing career post-MBA in this specialization is where I’m meant to be. The best part about this choice: I can still pursue my interest in brand management. I have enrolled in all of the brand students’ classes as electives! I truly got the best of both worlds while still focusing on what I enjoy most and what I will apply to my future career at PepsiCo!