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David Shepard

Oh the Place You Will Go

by Dave Shepherd, MBA 2011 Wednesday, August 17, 2011

One of the hardest decision I ever made was to come to Wisconsin for my MBA, and to focus on Marketing Research. Not because it wasn’t a good option, but because it represented such a drastic change of life for me. But it was also the best decision I ever made.

Although I’m no longer a student in the Nielsen Center (I graduated this past May, 2011)… I thought I could provide a valuable perspective for any prospective students.

The title of this post, as many of you know, is from a Dr. Seuss book. The first time I read it was after it was given to me as a graduation gift this past Spring. And like me, the experience you could (or potentially will) have at the University of Wisconsin MBA, and more specifically the Nielsen Center for Marketing Research will take you places. And when I say this I mean both physically and mentally.

I’ll start with “mentally” because, after all, you are considering going back to school. The curriculum will challenge you at a level that is hard to grasp as a prospective student. I remember being in your shoes as a prospective student. I observed an accounting course during my visitation. It seemed challenging, but manageable. Once I was a student, it was much more than simply accounting. It was balancing the other 6 courses, the internship search, a social life, your non-Wisconsin friends, and for some a family. It’s not a task for the faint of heart! But I assure you it’s one of the most rewarding and gratifying experiences you can have if you’re successful. And if you are admitted, I assure you that the powers that be see your potential to be successful. And once you’re here, you’ll have the experience of a lifetime.

That brings me to the “physical” places you will go. First, the most obvious place is Madison. If you haven’t been here for a visit… you’re missing out. For those of you that have visited, you already have a glimpe into my opinion that it is the best city in the country! Keep in mind, I’m a Michigan boy – born and raised here, and excited to now be back after graduation. But Madison is hands-down the best city I’ve lived in. It is the perfect combination of campus camaraderie, vibrant city, and vacation destination. On top of that, it’s on an isthmus! (For those of you not familiar… it’s the small piece of land between two lakes). You will no doubt go to some great restaurants (like Dotty’s, Brickhouse BBQ, Old Fashioned… and countless more), check out the student Unions (I purchased a lifelong membership, so maybe you’ll even see me there), some awesome bars (like State Street Brats, Vickery’s, The Red Shed… just to name a few), some great sporting events (football, hockey, and basketball games are a good start), and maybe if you’re lucky like me you’ll have 2 (thats right, 1 per year) snow days. There will be opportunities to jump in a frozen lake (for charity) and play golf (to meet potential employers). You’ll go to classes, presentations, club meetings, conferences, case studies, and so many other life changing places… limited only by your own time management and interests. But you’ll also have the opportunity to travel the world. Just speaking for myself, I went with classmates to 3 different countries: South Africa, Germany, and Denmark. During my tenure, other students also went to Brazil, Argentina, China, Hong Kong, Turkey, Vietnam, UAE… and that’s not mentioning several international trips my classmates went on that weren’t for course credits!!

Hopefully it is evident how passionate I am about my experience at the University of Wisconsin’s MBA program. And in particular, the Nielsen Center for Marketing Research. It has prepared me for what I anticipate will be a very rewarding – and even more so – a very fulfilling career at Gongos Research. And I’m confident the Nielsen Center has done the same for my classmates… whether they went supplier or client side. Or to big or small firms.

The readers of this blog are going to have a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences, motivations, and goals. But if you have a desire to be a leader in the marketing research industry, then this is the place for you.

So good luck with any next steps… be it taking the GMAT, applying to UW, or moving to Madison. I wish you the best of luck and great success in the future. I know you will go places… great places!!!

On Wisconsin!

David Shepherd, class of 2011