Fall 2015 Conversations Face To Face Big Marketers On Campus Main Image
Full-Time students gain candid, unscripted perspectives from alumni holding leadership positions in consumer and business marketing and make real-world industry connections. Photo by Robert Kozloff

Big Marketers on Campus

In intimate roundtable discussions, students have the chance to connect with alumni marketing masters.

Is it possible to geotarget advertising messages by street address? How can business-to-business marketers get better data? Why are millennials spending buckets of money on jewelry?

These were among the intriguing queries tackled at Kilts Center Marketing Day Forum, an annual forum sponsored by the James M. Kilts Center for Marketing. The event brought 16 executive-level alumni in marketing to Harper Center in April to share their industry experience and expertise. Each alumnus hosted a table and led a 30-minute discussion on the latest developments in big data, business-to-business marketing, and product innovation. The 100 student attendees—aspiring marketers and those interested in learning more about the field—divided among the 16 tables and rotated for the second session.

For the students, the opportunity is extraordinary—joining in discussions, and posing questions directly to alumni in senior positions at marketing heavyweights including JPMorgan Chase & Co., McDonald’s Corp., and MasterCard Inc. For alumni, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with Booth and engage with students. The forum showcases the range of career paths and functions available to students with an interest in marketing—not just consumer products but banking and finance, manufacturing, entertainment, retailing, and technology.

Lee Ettleman, a Full-Time student, was interested in the  analysis of consumer spending offered by Sarah Quinlan, AB ’82, MBA ’84, group head and senior vice president at MasterCard Advisors in Purchase, New York. Quinlan said she knew the US economic recovery was complete when jewelry—the ultimate discretionary purchase—in October 2013 became the fastest growing consumer category. “Consumers also are willing to spend on restaurants, boutiques, and travel,” she said.

Full-Time student Jefferson Kohler was impressed by the vision of future content delivery offered by Andy Cipra, ’05, vice president of marketing for Dish Network Corp. in Englewood, Colorado. Cipra revealed the tremendous specificity with which marketers can now reach an audience. He offered a preview to the student audience, explaining that Dish’s geotargeting and microtargeting capabilities will be on display to unprecedented levels  of precision. “Dish will be able to show specific messages to voters on one side of the street,” he said, and not just that but “in a specific swing district with behavioral filters, so that, for example, only viewers who regularly watch Fox News will see the promotions.” The possibilities presented by digital television paint a “bright future for targeted, efficient marketing,” Kohler said.

Jesse Singh, ’93, senior vice president of marketing and sales for the 3M Company in St. Paul, Minnesota, asked the students at his table to explain the differences between business-to business and business-to-consumer marketing. The scarcity of data for business-to-business marketers was a revelation to Full-Time student Lisa Baker. “We were left with a few key thoughts, particularly the critical role that data and digital are playing,” Baker said. “The role of brand is just as important in B2B as in B2C. I was struck by how many of the same trends are impacting both channels.”

Clearly the possibilities offered by technology are driving student interest in marketing careers. Kilts Center director Jean-Pierre Dubé, Sigmund E. Edelstone Professor of Marketing, said he’s seen a rise in marketing interest among Booth students since he joined the school in 2000. In 2014 it was the third most popular job function for graduating students, behind consulting and investment banking. This is no surprise, Dubé said, given the post-MBA options a career in marketing offers: “If you take someone who is comfortable with quantitative analysis, the career opportunities in marketing right now are so much more exciting than the opportunities in finance.”