On Friday, March 26, 2010, the MBAMA (MBA Marketing Association) visited two companies in the Chicago area. The first company visited was Sears Holdings Corporation with its corporate headquarters in Hoffman Estates, IL. Sears Holdings is the nation’s fourth largest broad line retailer with approximately 3,900 full-line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada. It is the leading home appliance retailer as well as a leader in tools, lawn and garden, home electronics and automotive repair and maintenance. The second company visited was Energy BBDO in downtown Chicago. It is a full-service advertising agency and a unit of BBDO Worldwide. Energy BBDO functions as a highly creative boutique with a vast network for marketers needing a full-service agency within a nimble entrepreneurial package.
Some of the highlights of the trek included touring the Sears Headquarters, meeting and Q&A session with the BUILD (Business Unit Integrated Leadership Development) program members who entertained questions from the group about their experiences as BUILD members and the different kind of projects that they are working on currently. We also participated in a case discussion with the VP of Marketing Operations where we discussed the impacts of Social Media (Facebook, Twitter) on Marketing and Advertising.
Similarly, at Energy BBDO, we met with the EVP, Director of Research Emeritus who presented a case study: How to Get Big Strategic Ideas that Work. The case focused on a marketing research technique called “The Problem Detection Study” which is a powerful tool that provides great insight into consumer behavior. This, I believe is a great tool to solve marketing problems and it also helps in creating new brands or reposition existing brands to solve these problems. Then, there was a Marketing Panel with four agency executives and they discussed their roles as Account Executives, Quant Gurus and Account Planners at Energy BBDO and also answered questions from the group.
By far, everyone’s favorite part of the trek was the alumni networking/social event at Mc Fadden’s in the evening. The group had the opportunity to meet with Alumni students and talk to them about full-time opportunities at their respective organizations. MBA Marketing Association members also had a great time watching the winning MSU basketball game with their marketing peers after an action-packed day.
This opportunity provided a glimpse into the strategic marketing dilemmas that companies such as Sears and Energy BBDO face on a daily basis. Additionally, my peers and I were able to see that the concepts that we learned in our classes were actually being applied successfully by major corporations. While a trip like this certainly develops knowledge and awareness of key business issues, I feel that the confidence of knowing that I am on the right path here at Broad is far more valuable. I highly recommend students in the coming years to participate in these exclusive on-site visits: take a tour of the company, hear company presentations, network with employees and gain insights to life as a brand manager and the typical responsibilities. But most importantly, discover that Broad’s curriculum translates directly to real life.