Brand Management from Non-Elite MBA?

themoz's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 27

For anyone here who has entered Brand Management, how do you say is placement not coming from an elite (or even Top 50) MBA program (for top companies such as J&J, Unilever, Mars, or P&G)? Marketing professional with 5 years experience (1.5 years in Management so far), and graduated from a large public Uni. My experience could enter me into an elite school, but I would rather avoid taking loans (or even lose out on pristine experience) and do my MBA part time. Call me old-fashioned, but I can't stand the thought of taking on debt for an education. Plan on taking online courses at Illinois for cheap and transfer them when starting in the Spring.

Why do an MBA and go for Brand Management? To be frank, I could use experience in project and team building. I manage a very small team, and could always use more experience. My experience is good and my career is moving well. (Mostly) like what I do and I do it really well. But I just want to do branding. Working with consumer products is my dream. Would have pursued that if I knew this role existed in college.

Since I live in NYS, I'm deciding between either Rutgers, Baruch, and Buffalo (far but I like the area more). My only concern is that I think all 3 schools focus a lot on Accounting (and Supply Chain for Rutgers/UB). In general, only Midwest or expensive schools are strong in branding. In Buffalo, I would be at least close enough to the Midwest that I could apply for positions and internships in Indianapolis/Chicago/Michigan where most of these positions lie (though I would need to take off work to pursue that internship).

Does pursuing an MBA at a large business Uni hurt my chances of getting into BM? Of the 3 unis, which one (if any) presents the best opportunity, both in the short-term and long-term?

Would I need an internship as well to get into these companies? If so, is 1 sufficient or should I aim for 2? As an intern, can you apply for places that are far and simply relocate temporarily? What's the protocol for a part-time student doing an internship (ie: work then quit their job)?

Thanks for anyone answering this question! You'll forever have my kudos :)

Comments (31)

Sep 21, 2017

bump...

Sep 21, 2017

I think you have the right mindset re: b-school given your situation. You already have marketing experience, so that's going to be more valuable in brand management, at least from what I know. The CPG companies tend to cast a wider net traditionally when it comes to MBA recruiting than say investment banking or mgmt consulting - their hiring model is also quite different (not churn and burn like professional services or tech). Anecdotally, those in brand mgmt post-MBA tended to stay the longest and/or job hop the least (5-10 years is not uncommon, moving up the ladder) and I believe that's both a function of self-selection and these companies wanting that stability. Another aspect is as you said, a lot of these companies are in the midwest, and it's harder for companies not in the Northwest or west coast to attract MBAs from these top schools.

I don't know about those schools personally, but I'd check with their career services office (schools publish their recruiting stats) but my hunch is that given your current experience in marketing and wanting to go into brand mgmt, you don't really need to go full-time to a top program.

    • 2
Sep 21, 2017
MBAApply:

I think you have the right mindset re: b-school given your situation. You already have marketing experience, so that's going to be more valuable in brand management, at least from what I know. The CPG companies tend to cast a wider net traditionally when it comes to MBA recruiting than say investment banking or mgmt consulting - their hiring model is also quite different (not churn and burn like professional services or tech). Anecdotally, those in brand mgmt post-MBA tended to stay the longest and/or job hop the least (5-10 years is not uncommon, moving up the ladder) and I believe that's both a function of self-selection and these companies wanting that stability. Another aspect is as you said, a lot of these companies are in the midwest, and it's harder for companies not in the Northwest or west coast to attract MBAs from these top schools.

I don't know about those schools personally, but I'd check with their career services office (schools publish their recruiting stats) but my hunch is that given your current experience in marketing and wanting to go into brand mgmt, you don't really need to go full-time to a top program.

Thanks! That's another reason I'd like to go into BM. Not only do you get a ton of product leverage, but it's a position that wants you to think strategically and have a product opinion, and also wants you to stay and grow in their firm. Marketing typically has high turnover (only way to move up the ranks, which is what I like the least about it). Most small-mid size companies would be content to let you stay in your role with no growth, yet it's extremely competitive once you have quality experience for employers. You can quickly move to a Management role in 4 years if you move around a year or two in (like I did). It would be nice to work for a firm that both looks for reasons to move you up, and also has opportunities to move up.

Also, as you stated I have quality Marketing experience, so I'm skeptical if I would gain anything from going to a T-20+ school other than better recruiting. It's disappointing though (but not shocking) you haven't heard of either 3 schools. Rutgers has deep connections with J&J (which is why I'm leaning that direction). In their own admission, Baruch does not handle recruiting directly and are only intermediaries. 90+% of graduates are Accounting/Finance, and Marketing is not a focus point (plenty of good courses as there's plenty of Marketing folk in NYC though). Baruch is the most convenient and cheapest option, however.

UB is more of a wild card: They are ranked well domestically and are better known in their MBA program but I think the stats are influenced by their 3-2 program (BS/MBA in 5 years), and would explain why their graduate salary is much lower than other schools. Their recruiting focuses on newer grads (or grads with 1-2 years experience). They have a few local companies that recruit but nothing too national (New Era Cap, Mattel (Fisher-Price), NA Brewers, and Rich's). But they are much closer to the Midwest (Chicago is a 8hr drive vs. 15 hr drive from NYC). Not super close, but driving for an interview is a possibility. Other locations: Pittsburgh (2.5 vs 7 hrs), Cincinnati (6 vs 10 hrs), Indianapolis (7 vs 11 hrs)

Best Response
Sep 21, 2017

I've now been in BM at a major CPG for 2 years post-MBA. In general, CPG firms that hire for BM out of MBA do cast a wider net than consulting/banking, but it's not THAT wide. At my firm, we hire from 6 core schools (Tuck, Wharton, Kellogg, Johnson, Stern and Kelley) and then bring in a few other people each year from diversity conferences. In the past 4 classes, we've had ~2 people from non-T20 schools. From what I hear from friends at other major CPGs it's somewhat similar. While you can definitely get into these companies from T50 MBAs, it's MUCH harder. Also, not all marketing experience is viewed the same. Brand management at most of these companies is a general management job, where financial acumen and leadership are valued as much as marketing skill. Having been involved in recruiting the past 2 years, I can say that a consulting background is often valued as much as a marketing background. Lastly, a lower-ranked MBA is going to restrict you regionally - CPG firms from around the country go to the top schools, but for lower ranked schools it's going to be almost exclusively regional.

Sep 21, 2017

I would really look at where the feeders are. if X program doesn't usually yield ABMs, it'll be tons of legwork on your own - otherwise it's a fine shot actually.

M7 MBA, iBanking. Top MSF grad. AntiTNA. Truth is hard to hear! But... :
DickFuld: Yeah....most of these people give terrible advice.:
Sep 23, 2017

Enjoyed reading this thread. OP I'm with you- as someone who will begin my MBA next fall and wants to get into Brand Management in CPG there is certainly a dearth of information about the industry. What I will say, is that I know a guy at Fuqua and he said that BM recruiting is every bit as competitive (for the top companies P&G, JNJ, etc...) as consulting is. You don't just luck your way into a brand management position- you have to network just like you would for IB or consulting.

Oct 3, 2017
southernstunna:

Enjoyed reading this thread. OP I'm with you- as someone who will begin my MBA next fall and wants to get into Brand Management in CPG there is certainly a dearth of information about the industry. What I will say, is that I know a guy at Fuqua and he said that BM recruiting is every bit as competitive (for the top companies P&G, JNJ, etc...) as consulting is. You don't just luck your way into a brand management position- you have to network just like you would for IB or consulting.

Me too! Best info I've seen on the 'net. Frustrating there's so little info! If ya gonna be prissy about recruiting, at least holla and let ppl know. Considering the same thing but the other side of the fence. Options for PT programs are a lot better here in Cali (UCLA/Davis) and cheap.

Besides on-campus stuff, what other good ways are there to network besides networking with my new alumni network? My Uni was a small liberal arts and doesn't have any leads. Like to get as many hit points as possible.

Oct 4, 2017
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