MBA Student Insights: Consumer Focused Careers at Stanford GSB
You. Hello. And welcome, to today's panel, MBA, student, insights consumer. Focused careers at Stanford, GSB. My. Name is Rebecca Ackerman, and I'm a second, year MBA student, here at the GSB I'm joined. By christina LaMarca and Faiza Asma two of my classmates and. MBA. To students, as well they. Are each pursuing, career interest in the consumer focused business space and in. Our time together we'll, be talking about the student experience here at the GSB and how. We're using it to prepare for careers after school. Please. Be aware that we won't be talking about the admissions process the. Application, or, financial. Aid today you. Can consult the website or contact the, MBA admissions office, for that information. Now. Let's begin with introductions as, I. Mentioned before I'm currently. An MBA -, prior. To the GSB I lived in Houston Texas where I worked as a technology. Consultant before, transitioning. Into strategic. Communications. And strategy for, an oil and gas company I came. To the GSB to pursue a career shift into marketing, at a consumer focused company and I've, used my experiences. Here to explore that space. Now. Turning to Christina, I'd, love for you to introduce, yourself. Thank. You so my name is Christina, lamarka I'm from Italy and prior. To coming to the GSB I was management. Consultant, based in London, and later in Australia, and that, I work for an oil and gas company as, well for, a year before. Coming here and. I. Came because. Myself. - I wanted, to move, in transitioning, to the consumer, retail space. But, at the time I didn't know really where. Thank. You and I'd like to have, Pfizer introduced herself as well of course my. Name is Maya I'm from Panama originally. I worked, three years at Procter & Gamble doing brand management across Latin America for brands such as pampers internment had.
A Great time but I realized, that I was moved as I was moving up in. My career there were some skills that I still needed to develop. So I came in the GSB, how to round up those skills, wonderful. Thank you so much we're so glad to have both of you here with us today so. I'd like to go ahead and dive in we've heard from the, traditional route into this space as well as a more untraditional, route so, I'd like to just hear a little bit about what your decision. Criteria, was when you decided to apply to the GSB. So. For. Me I. Guess. There were other schools, in other cities, that maybe. Looked. More. Appealing. From a consumer, point of view such, as for example London. Or New York but where. Really drove, me to Stanford, was the, possibility. To actually. Experience. The Silicon, Valley. Culture, and see. What applications, might, have into the consumer, and retail space. Also. Was. I think, plenty, of alumni, from Stanford, that I had either, started, consumer. Retail companies, home, had. Covered. Prominent positions, in. Larger, corporations, say, the. Club seemed, to me that to have a very strong reputation. In. My case when, I was looking at what schools to apply, to the, GSB definitely stood out because two of things that I was looking for were. Developing. My soft skills so managing, others how to have different conversations. How. Do project. Power and project confidence, and the GSB definitely, had the best professors, for those courses. So. I knew that I wanted to apply to the GSB I also really like the opportunities, to explore. Topics, outside of the GSB. Stanford. Lets you take classes as a graduate, student in, any. Of the schools and. That's a great tool to have as a leader but when you don't know exactly what, industry, you might want to go to after the GSB I've. Had a very similar experience I came to the GSB because. Of a mix of both the culture and the. Relativity. To the Silicon Valley so coming from a tech background, that was a really good segue into understanding. How that really, related, to the consumer, space and there's just so many different experiences, as you guys know being able to go visit companies are having. Some. Of those entrepreneurs, come to campus and then the exposure to developing both the soft and hard skills I think it's. Pretty unparalleled, and other experiences, so, really. Really glad I made. The choice. To come here so. Starting. To dive into some of the academics, you talked about if, either some of the soft skills that you've developed if. You can share some of what your favorite classes, have been to help you develop some of those I have, a two, favorite. Classes. That I've taken and they're in the opposite, spectrum of hard and soft skill, the. First one it's gonna be a GSB classic it's touchy feely your interpersonal dynamics I, think, it really helped me open my eyes in terms of how, do I come, across to other people and where am I not being a fun efficient communicator, so. I think that's those are learnings that I'm going to keep forever. And on, the other spectrum the other like extreme, I really, enjoyed optimization. And simulation. Osm, as it's famously called as. I. Was taking that class my, initial. Thought was if, I knew this a year ago I would have saved so, many hours of my life just. In terms of optimizing, marketing, budgets or. Calculating. Our eyes or just. Being. More efficient, overall. So. Those are the two classes that I would recommend everyone, going, into. CPG, or going into a consumer focused cause to definitely take and I imagine, did the name scare you off at first imagine. You're going to get so much value from it I know like so, osm is not, a required, class I'm. Sorry is the required size as. In you have to take it as part as your foundations, curriculum. Your first year, if I, had to choose it on my own I don't know if I would've just because it sounds intimidating but. The fact that Stanford thinks, things. Ahead and knows what, kind of courses are gonna be useful in your life like. Was. Just such a huge help. Thank. You Christina, any courses, that stand out for you that have directly, related to a career in this space yes, so for. Me. I guess. The first one was product, lounge that, we took last year and it's it's an advanced marketing, class, with. The with yes with Lee Bob and I. Wasn't. Familiar with the space and so it really helped me understand, how customers. Interacts, with the product. Another, class that was really helpful was an across the street class at the design school and. There, we. Basically, focused, on need finding. So. It's part, of the design thinking process they. Are for, which famous is extremely, for. Which temper is extremely, famous are for, and. Their I really. Developed.
My Skills in. Finding. Problems, that matter to customers, and developing, products, that actually address, those. Problems those, were my two highlights. Great I think that for. Me a couple that really stood out to me actually apart, from interpersonal. Dynamics which you mentioned, and product launch where I took a class on consumer, search and marketing so learning how to leverage. Tools, such as Google Adwords, and Facebook, advertising. To actually, understand, how you place, an ad so if you're looking at a website, or looking at Facebook and you have an ad that pops up that's. Relatively. Familiar to something that you might have just been looking at we learned actually how that happens and for me that was an extremely valuable learning, that I was actually able to take forward, into my summer experiences, and my summer internships, so that. Was a really valuable course, for me and then, I'm. Also currently in a course called startup garage and I. Know that christina has had an experience, in that as well but you actually get to test out, building. Your own product, and learning how to acquire customers and, how do you get close to your consumers, how do you interview, them and how, do you really touch base to understand what a core, need of that market is and so for me I've learned a lot of really essential. Marketing. And, consumer. Facing. Tactics. That have been really valuable for. Me. And my career if I choose to go to entrepreneurship, router if, I choose to go the big business route you're always going to have customers, so those have been two really valuable experiences. For me so. Apart, from the academics, as. I, know and I'm sure you guys can all relate to the. GSB offers so many different experiences and as, much, as we are in classes we're also taking part in a number of different activities so maybe you can talk about some. Of the clubs or other extracurricular. Experiences, you've had. Sure. So of course there's the retail, and consumer Club and for, example just yesterday. Stitch fix came, and. Told us about, basically. Their, story, from the, very, origin, in 2012. Until the IPO it was extremely interesting its senior management, that comes and you can ask a very open questions and they're, happy to respond, and. Then another experience, from, last year, was. Being. A part in the marketing team of the winter, gala, it's. A charity, gala that the GSB. Organizes. That the students, at the GSB organized, and that. Was a. Good, way for me to come, together with classmates that, I would have not out of wise mad. And it was my first marketing, experience, I, was. Also very, interesting. Because. I've, had more of a traditional, background, when, I came to the GSB I was looking to expand. Those skills into consumer, spaces that I might not have access to before so, I've been very involved with the arts community entertainment Club and the education Club the. Arts main entertainment Club because it's such a different industry that. I'm very curious to see how consumers. Operating, such an industry, but I'm not necessarily gonna go into but it's good to flex those muscles in, terms of understanding. Different different, types of consumers the. Education, club I'm very involved with because I'm a dual degree major with. The. School of Education for. Two reasons one I think with. The changes of Technol in technology, that are occurring at a such a fast pace a big. Part of marketing is now going to be educating consumers so. I think you can learn a lot from learning. How to teach, learning. How people learn. Basically. And. How to use that in marketing. So, like you not, only have the opportunity look. Into. Consumer focus. Groups. Or companies your, elbow aiso to use those same skills and flex them out in other industries, or other areas that. You might not have exposure to after, the GSB and, that's such an important, skill set to have I noticed that even though I was in big. Tech and big oil and gas companies what I learned is that often. Times you have a company that's setting the strategy, and it could be a marketing strategy, but there's, not enough resources deployed, to actually, teach, the consumers, or teach, even the rest of the business about how to get from point A to point B so the education, aspect is so important, and, I think that's a trait in a unique, way to look. At a dual degree and, then look at how you actually build. Your skills having coming in with the marketing experience that's like I can teach someone use autonomous.
Cars Or how do you like something. That you can even picture having. It doesn't it part of your everyday life how. Do you go about starting, something so drastically, different Hey and I imagine that before coming here you probably weren't even thinking about how they try, and convince someone about how to use and exactly, what, is the moment like are they already out there yeah. So it's another thing that we get being here to Silicon Valley. It's. Wonderful, well apart, from clubs. I just. Be curious about. Career. Opportunities, so, we. Talked about some of the clubs. Such as the retail and consumer Club I know, that there's a lot of different, treks that those clubs take part on and to make sure that you're able to go see. These companies see what roles are out there so can. You maybe talk a little bit more about. The BB LS or some treks that you've been, on and how that's opened doors up into the. Career Management Center, or into career opportunities. So. BB ELLs and, also. What is a BB l yes, so. It's. So. It's, basically, an hour during. Lunch time where the GSB intentionally. Doesn't, schedule any classes. So that. Panniers or guest speakers, or, alumni, can come and be. Either, host a panel or just, give a talk about a specific topic of company. The. Return on consumer, club I think hosts. At least two, or three a month. And, so. We have a lot, of consumer. Focused, companies. Coming. And. Those. Have been extremely helpful because you get to mean beyond. What you hear from the company you actually get, to meet generally, the CEO, or, head of strategy of the CEO and. It's. A good way to make. An introduction. Offer. Your, thoughts about, the specific, topic and create our relationship. And I know many of my classmates and. Including. Myself have, managed to, actually. Either serious. Potential internships, opportunities, or a past GSB. Full-time, offer through, there yeah and I know for me, I went to a brown-bag lunch hosted by. DFS. Group which is a company that manages a number of the, duty-free, stores, that you see in international, airports, especially across, Asia, and we. Had had the VP of North America come to, visit. And come to discuss their business model and it wasn't a company that I had been, considering, previous. To them coming to campus but ended up talking, having a conversation offline, with the VP and North America and then ended up being, able to do, an international, internship. Which, is called a G mix which is a global. Immersion program, that's offered by the Career, Management Center. And was able to go over there for a month and work in their international. Branding, team so like, Christina was saying there's so many different opportunities that you're able to leverage from these brown-bag, lunches and a couple, of ones that have stood out to me have been both the retail. Consumer, club that has already been mentioned a number of times but also the marketing club we're, actually working on planning, a track to go visit some of these companies and, how. We choose the companies, is often, by. Looking at companies that are doing really interesting things. Right, now in the space but also companies, that are looking to hire. Interns, or hire. Individuals. Who are full-time career so we can start to prepare and set people up to, move into these spaces, so. I'd be curious eyes, on what what really stands out to you and when thinking about this I also really, enjoyed all the, speakers. That we get to have on campus not, only because it's opportunities, to interact with CEOs but it's also opportunities, to get into their brains and understand, the, consumer, trends, and, the. Challenges that they see in the areas in the next couple of years sorry lolli and pops coming. To campus and a having, just. An insight into what starting.
Your Own company. In. A very consumer, focused. Candy, everywhere. Yeah. But, it's very interesting to be able to very, quickly in an hour get, something like such a deep perspective, of. The consumer trance is such a wider range from retail. To food and beverage to, CPG. To. Blanking. Exactly, and I know we talked a little bit before, earlier. In the week about, the, Career Management Center, offering a number of workshops and, sessions. To, help facilitate the job search process so maybe you can talk a little bit about stood, out to you know the, one that was definitely. Useful for me immediately was the - our job search by, Steve that I think, it's Steve Dalton. Do. You don't have to be you consumer focused person who benefit. From the course of from workshops like that but that all the workshops that I found very useful are, very intentional, in terms of the terms of skill that they want you to learn or what, you're gonna want to get out of so I also really enjoyed the how. To make memorable presentations. Or. How to network as an international, student or it, was I think it's called how to manage US, networks. So. I think there, have all been very detailed. Very. Detailed, this is a skill that I'm gonna get in one hour you go and you actually do get end up getting that skill by the end and, then you're able to apply it to the job search exactly. Afterwards. Are, there any trips, so any, trips that really, stand out you mentioned that you haven't gone on any tracks, Christina but are there any, trips. Such as maybe our, required Global Studies trip, or, other. Experiences, that you might had that have landed way to learning, more about the consumer space and multiple. Different countries across the world besides, just our little bubble in the Silicon Valley I so. Many I. Recently, led GST. To Mexico. And. One of the meetings that we had was with Mexico. CEO for, kimberly-clark and we, had a panel with him and a politician you talk about how changes, in regulation, are gonna affect the. Company then a coming year so changes, in afta or the new presidential elections are gonna be happening in Mexico and it's such an interesting. Conversation. We'll be able to have with a CEO, and a hika topology, change from the from a country you're not familiar, with Wow, and how did you get that meeting or get to lead this trip in the first place yeah so he's an alum so, we were able to connect with him I might have already slipped in that I was interested in really, quite I. I really, admire the company so as a leader, you get to choose what companies you want to incorporate, on your trip so it's a great opportunity to network with people. That you. Might not necessarily know. How to introduce. Yourself I'm having to, take 25 MBAs, that are interested in your companies of great excuse to get to meet anyone that you want in. A new country that's, amazing, what, is your been your experience, with. Alumni. Outreach. Super. Friendly I've. Never. Not, gotten a response from an alum basically. It's. A pretty tight community, I think that's one of the benefits of having such a small class but it's I've had the same experience, I know that for, me a number of the trucks that I planned are trips that I've gone on is you reached out to an alumni and if they don't respond within a couple of days they, send an apology note that you know they're sorry that it's taken so long but everyone's been very very, receptive and, I know, that in the Career Management Center, one of the advisors there every, time I go will send me a list of alumni that says hey reach out to this person and just grab, coffee or go, to their office and see what they're doing ask, how they decided their own career path and especially transitioning. Into this space that's, been beyond. Valuable, for me I was, doing a, gbics, in Tanzania, and had, a lot of free time and surprisingly. Well. My nights correspond. To very early morning in a Sephora in the US and I was able to have so many Skype conversations. With alumni in my free time, that. I was super surprised like just. Blinding, reaching out to people in Sephora and how surprised I was trying to understand what I wanted to do after I graduated and leveraging, my summer free time in, a way to just hear, about as many people's experiences, as I could.
That's. Really, nice I was able to do that. I'd. Be curious about any trips that stand out or alumni, connections that, have really helped you boost your career especially transitioning. From, oil and gas as well in consulting, yes. This. Summer I, was. Returning. To San Francisco, I was doing also a, global, immersion, experience, in Thailand at an ecommerce startup, and I stopped in London, and I. Just wanted to see what, the, opportunities were where, there and so I reached out to just a couple of, alumni, during you were in London, one. Of them wasn't even part. Of the consumer retail space and within I think, I, don't know like maybe 12 hours I was put in touch with five, people who were working in. Companies. That I could be interested in and I managed to meet them within 48, hours in London all of them so even. Abroad internationally. I found, that the network, is definitely, there and people. Are excited. To help you out and. That was really. Pleasant. Surprise, for me and that's really important, that it's not just this. Table where people are helpful but I'd. Be curious are you thinking about potentially. Staying here after school or why. Is that international. Connection. Valuable for you um I guess, for me as an international. I. Definitely. Want to spend one, year at least in the u.s. after school, but. I, want. To keep myself the. Option of going, back to London where, I used to work and. I. Think in Europe there's a lot of a happening in the consumer retail space it's a smaller market more. Fragmented but. There's. A lot of brands. They are they're interesting, to me and so, just, nurturing. The, relationships. And staying, in touch over the year, those. People are still there and and it's not a transactional. Exchange. Of emails very much like hey I thought, these could be of interest of you like these are my thoughts and they reply it's it's great and, that's that's, the smartest thing to do I think that probably one, of the most valuable things that we've. All experienced, here is just being, able to ask questions so part, of the learning process outside. Of the classroom is just being. Immersed in, international. Perspectives, and being immersed in learning. About kimberly-clark in Mexico or planning, trips or be VLS and there's so many different opportunities, to immerse ourselves and, being. Able to learn more about the space so. What, I'd like to do is just shift a little bit into thinking about career. Goals after school, so, we're. All interested, in a space it. Most. Of you the two of you have had experience over. The summer learning, more about this space through internships can. You talk a little bit about where, you're thinking about going, after school. Sure. So. One. Option for. Me is to go back into consulting. But this. Time in the consumer, retail space and, I know that the option is there, one. Other option, which. Is, what I'm personal, right now is actually starting. My own. Brand. It's. Like a fashion brand and. That's. What has been incredible to me has been the amount of support, that I've actually got, here, from. An academic point of view in terms of classes, that I'm taking that, are supporting, my objective, the, professors. And the knowledge that they bring, and. The mentoring that they do and then once again the alumni network and, the willingness that they have in sharing their learnings, especially, in in their more in entrepreneurship. Space. So. Those are my two, options. I think. There's. Time it's, like an evolving.
Thinking. Process. There's. Time before graduation. But I can see how now you know options are studying to, sort. Of pop up in front of you and you almost have you. Almost have too many options to choose I would say. This. I think that was also extremely. Valuable, for me to see that you know despite the fact that we are in. This you know tech. Tech. Focused area, like steel there is that there are so many opportunities, for people are interesting, in, the CPG. Consumer, retail space I think. That's one of the things to highlight is that obviously. We've. All done the hard work to make sure that those options are there but even, probably, the, person that sent least amount of work has found that there's multiple options and multiple career paths in this space which, has. Been a huge opportunity I know for myself and. They're all so. Tempting, yes like, it's so hard to, be. Joyful and, what you want to do after the GSB because, you just get tempted, by so many cool things that you can do after. Your graduation so I found the CMC super helpful in trying, to determine what, is exactly that I want out of my next job and how do I stay true to that. So. I've had a lot of one-on-one Commerce advising, conversations, with advisors. Up at CMC to, really like write. Down in, hearthstone, what, is it exactly that I'm, looking for and what do I want out of my next job and make sure that I don't let you guys maybe, you can share a little bit less about what you're finding so after Owens. Five months. I'm. Gonna be doing a retail, leadership rotational program at I Mazon. I'll. Be able to test out different. Career. Paths within a very customer focused industry, so I'll be rotating, between marketing, operations, third-party. Vendors in different, areas. I like, they, ability, to be able to use a lot of the skills that I've learned, at the GSB so like operations, I'm not. My my. Strengths. But. Being able to know how to do it is so important, just because, as you move up if, you become a category leader you'll have operations, people reporting. To you so knowing what they do is super important, so I really value having, that, broad. Landscape, of skills. And experiences. Which this rotational, program is gonna do for me I think that's fantastic, and I know you'll be able to use, the experience, and basically, the proximity to where we are now to build, into that ecommerce, platform so, I think that's fantastic, and Christina, you you. Under. Understated. A bit of what you've been doing as well so Christina, I'm gonna take this opportunity to brag about her has been working, around the clock and, has really just, heard, us so much interest from our classmates, and what she's been working on in. The entrepreneurial, space and although. Its. Entrepreneurial, it's also very driven by her consumer interest, and I think the opportunities. That you've had any exposure to, everything. In this area, has been beyond, valuable, and to, say that it's the community, I think is the wrong way to angle and I think that you've just done, a tremendous job driving. That forward and figuring. Out exactly where your passions are and that's what yeah. These, past years have really creative yeah and Business School is such. A risk free environment to, do so there's. So many of us that are you. Know testing, products, the services not. Just in the consumer, retail space everywhere, and we work all together at, coalesce, which, is a shared working, space, there. Are ideas, of thering from corner, to the other of the room all the time and, it's. Risk-free you, know that you can always, you. Know go look out there and find plenty of opportunities.
But For some of us it would be a full-time, career. Entrepreneurship. Will turn into something, definitely. Someone. Not that's not doing an Anoop renewal role being able to test out all the products, that. Is. True and I know for myself I don't plan to go the entrepreneurial route but I'm, still trying to figure out which space is right for me I'm definitely, in the consumer space I think you just have such a competitive. Advantage when you can touch and feel the products and know exactly who you're marketing for, so ideally I want to be a user, of the product I eventually, that. I eventually end, up marketing. Or of, the company that I end up working for so still trying to figure that out but. With. That said I, love. To just ask you guys one final question if there's anything, that. Any type, of advice that you would like to recommend, they're students, that might, potentially join. The GSP community, and, he just lasting, words or her pieces of advice for them I think. That once you get into the GSB you have so many opportunities it's, very overwhelming it's. Hard to choose what, courses you want to take what. Extracurriculars. You want to be involved with. My. Biggest advice is dream, big whenever. You're trying to make choices in terms of what, skills do I want to build what classes I want to take think, about the, wildest, role, that you think you might have it's like I'm, gonna be CEO, of X and what do I need to get there and then leverage, the, GSB to, do. As much as you can to prepare yourself for that huge. Big role that you're gonna have one day I think. That's so truly for me it's be open-minded, if I had. Even, guessed the number of things that I'd be involved in two years ago I think I would have been so. Far off I mean I had the opportunity to write a case, on the mental health space and I would, have never said that I would do that two years ago and then, I've been able to intern in a couple of really incredible companies, over the summer focused, on the consumer space and, the, access, that we get to a number of leaders is just unbelievable. So I just say be open-minded don't, limit yourself, don't come in with hard. And fast rules about what you have to do and won't, do for that matter but be open-minded set. A plan for what you really want to accomplish and, just go after it so I think that I've, learned the most from those unexpected. Experiences. And I think that's the, best advice that I can give to anyone that's thinking about coming, here so with. That I'd like to thank both, of you for being here today and we, wish you all a wonderful rest, of your day thank you. You.