Over 20 board members made their way to Madison this past week to participate in the Fall 2015 Center for Brand & Product Management Advisory Board Meeting. As a first year MBA student, this was my first interaction with the body as a whole, and I was blown away by their kindness and interest in our success as business students.
One of the most defining aspects of the Wisconsin MBA program is the level of personal interaction we, as students, are able to have access to, whether it’s with faculty on campus, our center directors, or the advisory board members: everyone is on your side and wants you to succeed. This was reinforced again for me last week by interacting with the talented senior executives who sit on our board.
As tradition dictates, the fall meeting agenda is filled with presentations from the second year students about their internships over the summer. In some cases, this was the first time I was able to hear about their experiences and it got me even more excited about my summer internship possibilities. I heard amazing insights from the second year class but there were some overall trends I noted as well.
One of the most commonly noted takeaways was that in this era of “big data” you can’t get the entire story from just staring at a spreadsheet full of numbers. Many students spoke to truly getting to know the consumers who purchased their brand; literally in some cases going on a shopping trip with them. Other students spoke about how they initially tried to approach the summer internship project with as unbiased a perspective as possible but that in the end, utilizing some of their institutional knowledge ended up being a major benefit.
Additionally, many students talked about how important and absolutely necessary it was to build relationships with people around them at the company before they dove deep into analyzing their assignment for the summer. Learning the perspective of their managers and other helpful voices at the company really paid off when they had to eventually present their findings because the second year students were able to anticipate the questions they might receive and frame their solutions in such a way that would resonate in the room.
Many students also talked about how throughout the summer they had to change their perspective from someone merely “checking the boxes at their internship” to truly thinking like a business owner. Once they made that mental shift, decisions seemed to be made at a deeper level and they were truly able to own their summer projects.
Ultimately, I was overcome with the wealth of knowledge the second years presented and the thoughtful questions our board members asked of them. It was a truly inspiring day and I am so honored and humbled to be a part of this business badger family.