Eight Things I Learned from the Kilts Marketing Day Forum

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Photo of Marta Singer at the Marketing Day ForumThe Kilts Center Marketing Day Forum is a unique opportunity students have to engage in small-group conversations with CEOs, CMOs, and other senior executives. This year attracted the greatest number of alumni in the history of the event, including top executives from Office Depot, BBC Studios, and Nielsen. Given such a great selection of alumni, it was a tough task to choose which table to join!

Here's what I learned from my time speaking with Howard Brandeisky, ’85, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing & Customer Solutions, John B. Sanfilippo & Son; David Yates, '87, Former North America Regional Business Head, Nestlé Health Science; and Gary Singer, '78, Former Partner and Chief Marketing Officer, A.T. Kearney

1. Start Big. Larger companies have more in-depth training and mentoring opportunities. Plus, they provide a greater possibility to move across teams, geographies, and even countries. This will also give you flexibility when planning your next career move since you can take all you’ve learned and become an expert at a smaller company. This leads me to…

2. Play the long game. Focus on making an impact in the long-term, not just the short-term, when defining your career path.

3. Know your numbers. This shouldn’t be a tough one for Boothies since we’re known for our focus on marketing analytics and being data-driven. Having a firm grasp on the numbers will give you an advantage when managing profit and loss and working as part of a cross-functional team.

4Value relationships. Recognizing the importance of relationships early on is key to success. It’s much easier to cultivate relationships and figure out what drives people than to manage through authority alone.

5. Develop empathy. Every alumni I spoke to agreed that this is the most valuable skill a marketer today can have, because it not only helps you grow your relationships, but allows you to see things from a consumer’s perspective.

6. Question everything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and question assumptions. Look for things that don’t make sense within an organization and call them out. And don’t just look at a company’s weaknesses. Too often an organization’s biggest blind spots are hiding in what they assume to be their strongest brands.

7. Be curious. The alums I spoke with said that often intellectual curiosity is what can distinguish two equally qualified candidates from one another. And finally…

8. Embrace failure. Learning how to cope with and learn from failure early in your career will teach you to work outside of your comfort zone, which is critical to becoming a c-suite marketing executive.

As Marketing Day Forum came to an end, I left inspired with many new insights gained on how I want to approach my marketing career after graduation and grateful for the opportunity to engage with such distinguished Booth alumni. I hope that these nuggets of wisdom will inspire you as well.