Justin PetersonMy wife often says that our time together will never compete with my time spent at the UW CBPM.  I’ll set the record straight right now and say she was only half right.  During my time at UW, I was able to travel to China, India, Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Costa Rica, tour the east coast from Boston to DC, and after graduation cap it all off with an epic road trip to Alaska, while also getting a world class education.  I’ll never have more fun learning and travelling than I did while at UW, but marrying her was by far the best decision I ever made. I also remind her that we only met because UW led me to P&G. 

In almost 8 years at P&G I’ve worked on Cascade, Tide, Vicks, Metamucil, and Braun shavers, and have boiled my experience down to two key things:

  1. Surround yourself with smart people
  2. Be honest with yourself

John Wooden said “Surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you”.   Variety is the spice of life, and that’s also true with the people you spend time with personally and professionally.  Since starting at UW, I’ve met my wife, some of my best friends, and honestly some people who I’ll be happy to cross paths with rarely, if ever again.  I’ve learned there is nothing wrong with disagreeing with people as long as there is respect on both sides of an opinion.  Simply put, there is no substitute for smart, thought diverse people around you at work and in life, to push to make you better.

Which leads to my second point - Be honest with who you are as a person and leader.  No one in the world is the best at everything.  Early in my time at UW and P&G, I often worried about things that people were better at than me, instead of focusing on what my natural strengths were.  A few years into my career at P&G, a mentor of mine told me to stop getting hung up on my opportunity areas, unless they are an impediment to you moving forward or being promoted.  Instead, be aware of your weaknesses and leverage your unique strengths and the team around you to make a positive impact.  You can’t be the best at everything. However, you can be the best at some things, and those are what keep you moving through the world. 

For current CBPM students, enjoy every second of your time in Madison.  Going back to the real world is great, but this is truly a time for learning, fun, and reflection.  For alums, I hope you enjoyed UW as much as I did.


On Wisconsin!