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Kevin Cencula

My Two Years as a "Brandie"

by Kevin Cencula, Class of 2018 Thursday, May 31, 2018

Wow, two years sure do fly by!

Prior to attending the Wisconsin School of Business for my MBA, I worked for four years at DuPont in various supply chain and operations roles. I knew I wanted to get into marketing eventually, and an MBA specializing in Brand & Product Management seemed like the clearest path to get there.

I was confident that my MBA would set me on the right track for my long-term career goals, and it certainly delivered on that. But even more, it has brought me some of the best friends I’ve ever had, has allowed me to develop leadership skills that will serve me well for years to come, and has completely shifted my mindset about what it means to be a marketer and to build brands in today’s day and age.

Over the course of my two years in the program, I made great strides in learning what it takes to be a brand marketer. Applied learning seminars with our recruiting partners played a big role in that, exposing me to real-world marketing efforts: advertising, innovation, packaging design, consumer insights, rapid prototyping, and more. Intuit, SC Johnson, P&G, Conagra, and Kimberly Clark, all coming to visit us in rapid succession.

In addition, my summer internship at SCJ gave me the opportunity to apply everything I’d learned in my first year in the MBA program. It also gave me a comprehensive view of how a brand lives and breathes in the real world, all the way from the strategic brand vision down to market activations and channel executions.

And the diverse backgrounds of my peers in the Center for Brand & Product Management have exposed me to a variety of skillsets and life perspectives. More specifically, my peers with agency, media, and content-creating backgrounds have demonstrated a valuable way of thinking to which I was previously blind: one that leans on creativity and emotion, as opposed to data and logic. Being able to access my creative side will serve me well as a brand manager going forward.

When I look back on my MBA experience, I will remember a lot. I will remember all of the laughs I’ve shared with my classmates. I’ll remember the TAPS, tailgates, and spontaneous happy hours that brought us together. I’ll remember the intramural soccer games, the pick-up basketball games, and the casual runs with friends. I’ll remember playing Super Smash Bros. on N64 in between classes, and huddling around a classmate’s phone in the Brand Center, as he reaches the 11th round of HQ trivia. I’ll remember the group projects, the great teammates, and the feeling of capping off all that hard work with a solid presentation.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to grow into a capable brand marketer over the past two years, and even more thrilled to have been on the journey with some amazing classmates, faculty, and staff, all of whom I consider to be lifelong friends.