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Matt Rich, Weekend MBA student, co-founder of Locale Vine.

Alex Sotiropoulos, Evening MBA student and co-chair of Booth’s Marketing Club, Senior assistant director of admissions and director of digital strategy at The University of Chicago.

Elena Zalewski, Evening MBA student and president of Booth’s Marketing Club, Associate brand manager, ACH Foods.

Name one marketing class you took at Booth and enjoyed.

Alex: Digital Marketing Lab. Everything in this field is evolving so rapidly. This class gives you a really strong foundation and you act as a pro bono consultant for a company.

Matt: Pricing Strategies with Jean-Pierre Dubé. My background is in CPG sales and marketing. I had a gap in my knowledge in terms of how sophisticated pricing can be. This class will help me significantly in the future.

Elena: New Products Lab. You need to dedicate 15-20 hours a week to class (there is also a non-lab version of class). The frameworks from class have been useful in my job.

How different are lab courses and non-lab courses? Are there any parameters besides time commitment that we need to think of when we decide to choose between one or the other?

Elena: If you are a career switcher, you should absolutely take the lab because you can put it on your resume. It gives you a chance to talk about it in interviews. If you are just interested in exploring, I wouldn’t take the lab because it is such a large time commitment.

Alex: One of the reasons that lab classes have a larger time commitment is that you’re meeting with the client typically once or twice a week… so that’s a couple of hours right there, you might have readings for the course and then you have to do assignments that are client based. I think you want to present yourself in the best possible light. The difference is not so much what you learn in class, but in the assignments.

Can you talk about the Marketing club we have at Booth?

Elena: With the support of the Kilts Center, we do marketing treks where in the course of a day you can visit three different companies. We do a mix of tech and CPG companies. It’s an amazing opportunity to get into the office, meet with people and learn about the business.

Alex: We also have our own speaker events, typically on Saturdays during lunch times. You get to learn about different roles and responsibilities. It’s important to understand what these different roles and companies do to help you hone in on what you want to do in that field.

Elena, you mentioned you actually did a career switch (from finance to marketing). Can you talk about how that came about and what resources through the Kilts center helped you prepare for this transition?

Elena: The resources and events helped me acquire skills. For example with case preparation- alumni come and work with you and do mock interviews. The community is great- I met alumni during roundtables, forums, and conferences. I stayed in touch with most of them. The marketing community is pretty tight. I was able to keep these relationships through the years to help me get my foot in the door.

Alex, before the panel you told me how you were able to attend various lunch and learns, marketing events, and the forum through the Kilts Center. How did these help you think through how to make your transition?

Alex: These events have helped me figure out what marketing is and what area of marketing I’m interested in. Events are live streamed so you can gain insights even if you aren’t able to attend them.

What was your decision behind wanting to go into brand management?

Elena: It should be what you’re passionate about. I was passionate about food.

Matt: The general mindset background for brand management is what I’m more interested in in the future. How do I deal with different mindsets and departments versus doing one thing like sales or finance? I have a background in CPG and wanted to continue to leverage this background.

For those of us looking to switch industries/careers, is it difficult to go into brand management if you are coming from a non-traditional background?

Alex: At the end of the day, it’s about your story and how you connect all your relevant experiences.

Elena: I think a lot of you who want to switch have a lot of transferable skills. How do you get the chance to get in the room and talk about those skills? You will be competing with people who already have a background in marketing. Networking and getting people to give you a chance to interview is essential. Be out there with the community.

Matt: The Marketing Day forum is great to get you in front of senior leaders to really start that networking.

The James M. Kilts Center for Marketing

The Chicago Approach to Marketing teaches students how to leverage the core disciplines of economics, psychology and statistics to make better business decisions. The Kilts Center for Marketing cultivates a strong community of marketers, provides experiential learning opportunities with marketing labs (over 29 company sponsored projects in 2017-2018), and facilitates faculty research. The Kilts Center houses vital marketing datasets, including Nielsen marketing data, leveraged by academic researchers around the world. Programming includes the Kilts Speaker Series, Faculty Talks, Marketing Case Competitions, Alumni Breakfast Series, Student Group Conference and the Marketing Day Forum.

Thank you to Evening MBA student Meenakshi Lakshmanan for facilitating this event!


Speakers at the Kilts Center for Marketing "Marketing for Good" event

The Value of Brand Authenticity

Keane Sanders, Weekend MBA student and senior brand manager at Procter & Gamble, shares insights from the Kilts Center for Marketing’s recent “Marketing for Good” event and explores the question of how firms achieve brand authenticity while responding to racism in American society today.


The Value of Brand Authenticity