Integrated Skills from a Distinguished Program
Before rising to executive vice president and President of Beverages for Kraft, Deanie Elsner, '92, spent more than twenty years serving in a wide variety of leadership roles within the company. From integrating the Oscar Mayer brand in Madison, Wisconsin to running Kraft European coffee in Zurich, Switzerland, Elsner earned her reputation of being a dependable problem solver. She credits the skills she developed at Booth as an integral and necessary component to the success she's achieved in her career.
Within the consumer packaged goods industry there are four required skills. One is strategic agility. This is necessary to quickly assess a situation, understand what the data is saying, and identify the path by which you're going to go solve any situation. What makes marketing so attractive is the marriage of data and instincts. At the end of the day, marketing really is where psychology meets quantitative rigor.
The second skill is leadership, which prepares you to build a team with uniquely different skills that creates the necessary constructive tension for broad solutions.
Another skill is whether you can come up with the big idea, or the thing that is going to evolve the business. This is not inherent in everyone - if you're smart and strategically agile, it doesn't mean you'll come up with the big, "Aha!" Finally, the fourth is the drive to make it happen. When competing in top-tier businesses and pushing for results, it takes tenacity, focus, and energy.
The Booth approach gives the necessary analytical skills coupled with a diverse management perspective to help the right kind of person succeed. Whether through programs like experiential marketing lab courses or LEAD, Booth differentiates its students and develops their skill sets, so that they have the foundation required to crack the tough problems.
Booth's quantitative approach completes the total package
When I decided to pursue an MBA, it was with the express intent of entering into the field of marketing. I wanted a top tier school in marketing, but I also wanted a school that rounded out my skill set with a focus on quantitative rigor, so that when I graduated, I was the total package. This is what really drew me to Chicago in the first place.
When I started at Kraft, I had no idea that I would stay 20 years. Booth is exactly the right foundation for a successful future in CPG companies, among other career paths. The leadership skills I learned at Booth gave me confidence in the high-risk roles that I accepted.
Alumni success in marketing is no accident
I read about Booth alumni success, and I know it's not by happenstance. They started in a very smart place and have continued to apply their insights and fundamental education along the way. When I look at the people who are in general management at top tier companies, they aren't all of the same path - they've come from marketing; they've come from finance; they've come from consulting - because it is a broader skill set that's required to succeed.
Too often, we have this prescriptive mindset of how our career tracks will unfold. I currently run a $3.2 billion P&L with seven plants reporting to me and roughly 500 people. Had I not taken risks and capitalized on opportunities, I would never have pushed my limits and achieved a career that exceeded my expectations. Be open, take a chance, and see it all the way through.
If your ambition is to become a specialist or functional expert in marketing and ultimately to proceed on to general management, your focus really needs to be at an institution that gives you the ability to build the required skill sets - that's what Booth offers.