MBA degree for an Associate Brand Manager

A Day in the Life of James M. BRAND MANAGEMENT

Anthony is the Associate brand manager for an international consumer packaged goods company; Michigan, U.S.A./ We talked with him how his MBA education helped him to succeed in his job.

What I Do

For my brand, which is a well-known frozen food, I am responsible for understanding consumer behavior, including all the analysis and interpretation of market research studies.

I am also responsible for defining and developing consumer promotion as part of the overall marketing mix. This includes packed promotions (sweepstakes, free-in-mail, etc.) and couponing.

I take advantage of scanner data, information systems, and intelligence to track category and brand performance by region, SKU, product lines, etc., to determine necessary future actions and adjustments to the plan.

I am also involved in the process of developing and defining communication materials and strategies (advertising), and for managing innovation projects in conjunction with a multifunctional team to create growth and value for the brand.

What I Enjoy Most

I am passionate about the brand. I feel the ownership of being the driver of my brand and running my own business on a smaller scale, with responsibility for its success from top to bottom. Each brand is like a company of its own, but with the resources of a big company to back it.

In brand management, the brand becomes your baby. You can develop your creativity and entrepreneurial skills with every new challenge that your brand/company faces.

What I Enjoy Least

It’s frustrating when resources limit you—be it production constraints or advertising dollars. You have to go back and redefine, regroup, or think of new tactics to achieve the result and be more creative to maximize what you want. You always want more for your brand, yet from the company’s overall view, there has to be a strategic reason for it.

Why I Chose This Career

This brand management career is not routinized. You’ll never do the same thing twice. Each stage in a brand’s lifecycle has its own unique challenges. Your brand evolves; new products are introduced; the consumer, customer, and market dynamics are constantly changing. I hate routine, so I love this role.

Desirable Traits to Be Successful in This Career

A desirable trait is the ability to develop the clarity of purpose for your brand and work toward your corporation’s goal through your brand.

I am a better brand manager now with an MBA than I was before. I now have more appreciation for the business responsibility of managing the brand—everything that you do has to create value. You must learn how your brand will impact the company and how the company’s objectives are affecting the brand. This is a corporate versus field view of brand marketing.

Other desirable traits are entrepreneurial drive and critical thinking skills. Everything in brand management involves analysis. Question every single thing so that you can understand and identify the real issues driving your brand. Get comfortable with the need to have the data, analyze it, and act on true insights.

Words of Advice If You Are Considering This Career Path

A solid marketing experience prior to your MBA is always a great advantage. If you don’t have one, identify how you can leverage your experience and bring value to your new career.

You need to focus on developing the skills through experiences that will get you there—relate to people who work in the industry, get close to the consumer, master the courses that will support your decisions (finance included), and get involved in everything related to brand management (clubs, trade associations).

If you don’t have prior experience in brand management, this last point is essential to getting the attention of marketing people. Be consistent and convincing that this is what you want and demonstrate that through various types of marketing involvement.

In marketing, everything is different and dynamic, so demonstrate how your past experiences can be used in new ways. Be open-minded. Show how you are able to question everything, dig in, ask for information, and use it to draw conclusions about specific products or services.

What I Did Before This (Including Pre-MBA and Post-MBA Jobs)

I was a brand manager for three years at Unilever in South America, working on personal products. Since day one, I knew I wanted to develop a career in brand management. However, I also knew I needed the MBA to complement my experience and broaden my perspectives.

I secured an MBA internship at my current company. This was my chance to compare two different companies along with a number of levels—a European company versus an American-based company, a subsidiary (field location) versus headquarters, and different types of products.

Educational Background (Undergraduate, MBA, Other)

  • MBA, Thunderbird—The American Graduate School of International Management, concentration in international management, 2001
  • Bachelor of Industrial Engineering, Universidad de Los Andes, 1997

In MBA Programs, I’d Suggest You Look For…

Look for an MBA that offers a unique curriculum that fits with your objectives. Because I already had a pre-MBA brand management career and knowledge, I chose not to specialize but to choose courses—often outside of marketing—that I thought would help. I took mobile commerce, entrepreneurship, business intelligence, and many finance courses.

Find an MBA that offers extracurricular activities that enhance your marketing studies. Every activity or organization related to marketing that you choose to be involved in—or not involved in—demonstrates how serious you are and helps you develop your network.

Look for an MBA program that has excellent relationships with recruiters and has an organized and structured recruiting season, including visits by brand companies.