Hunter Cook

This semester, I have had the incredible experience of working with PepsiCo as part of the Consumer Insights Consulting Practicum. It has been an invaluable opportunity to apply what I’ve learned over the course of my two years at Wisconsin on a real-world business problem. This capstone experience epitomizes the experiential learning process that is so central to the A.C. Nielsen Center.

We were matched with companies at the beginning of the semester. My partner and I, fellow second year Diego Hahn, worked to create a project plan that would keep us on track during the semester. We met with industry advisors from Burke, C+R Research, and a few client-side alumni to discuss ideas on how to structure our research based on the business problem we were trying to solve. Diego and I worked closely with Class of 2015 alumni Zach Smith to validate the research plan, understand the larger business context behind what we were being asked to do, and bounce ideas on the best way to present our findings.

The project has been a great learning experience in a number of ways. First, it required us to dive deep into a category neither Diego nor I were overly familiar with: premium healthy beverages such as Naked, Pom, and kombucha. Learning about the mindset about these consumers by doing online research and one-on-one interviews was a fascinating experience. Second, the project tied in a lot of the project management skills that I had developed prior to and during the MBA program. Ensuring we were on pace throughout the semester and communicating our progress in meaningful ways was key. Finally, we were able to learn from each other during class sessions. Diego and I were one of seven teams of students working for projects across six companies, including American Family Insurance, Beam Suntory, Coca-Cola, Lands’ End, and the Wisconsin Veterans. We were able to offer advice on the challenges that other groups were facing, and received valuable feedback on our project throughout the semester.