By Jessica Colberg, Class of 2019
Michelle Monkoski, class of 2001, first heard about the A.C. Nielsen Center from an old friend from high school just as she was starting to crave her next challenge. She had graduated from UW Whitewater two and half years ago and had been working in PR and marketing for a nonprofit. She had enjoyed the experience and the people, and she was looking for a way to move her skills to the next level. She applied immediately.
At the A.C. Nielsen Center, Michelle found access to a wealth of experience in the industry through professors and the network of alumni and industry practitioners, though perhaps her favorite part of the Wisconsin MBA program was the Badger Football Games. Another favorite: Essen Haus, where lager comes in boots and friendly locals will invite you to polka.
Michelle still relies on the connections she made at the A.C. Nielsen Center. One example that came to mind was Sharon Seidler at C+R Research. She and Michelle connected when Sharon moderated a current topics session on campus. Michelle has found that connection invaluable in her career on the client-side of insights and continues to do work with Sharon and C+R to support her work in insights.
Michelle spent her summer with Oscar Meyer and continued there for full time working both on new product development and existing businesses. Her advice to current students getting ready to being their internships is to talk to everybody and anybody! Talk to people outside your role; find out why people value insights.
These days, Michelle works as Consumer Insights Director in New Platform Development with Sargento in the Sheboygan area. She can’t tell you much about what she’s working on now, but she could talk about past successes. One her favorites, Sargento’s Balanced Breaks, won a 2017 Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation Award for the simple but powerful idea of pairing cheese with nuts and fruit in the snacking space. Snacking is exploding, but nobody had thought to pair cheeses with other snacking products. The trick to finding the path others haven’t tried, Michelle said, was to find a way to look at the situation holistically. Cheese + snacks is a situation where 1 + 1 = 3.
Outside of work, Michelle is excited by her recent engagement and looking forward to the wedding. She and her fiancé have three great kids between them who keep them very busy.
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