From sailing ships to managing brands – a quick look at my marketing internship

If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be doing brand management marketing for a consumer packaged goods company, I would have had a few questions for you. That would seem pretty crazy to me since at that time, I was in undergrad studying logistics and marine transportation. The short story there is that in my first career, I was a navigational watch officer on cargo ships and offshore oil rigs. Perhaps now you can understand my vexation at the thought of doing CPG marketing. I came to Tepper because I was looking to pivot in my career, but I think it turned into an about-face when you compare the two industries.
How engaged are you in the team’s decision-making?
The consensus at my internship is that the marketing department is understaffed. While this is occasionally bemoaned, it’s also something that a lot of people enjoy because it gives them much more opportunity to get exposure to different parts of the business. My project is one which would have been worked on by an associate brand manager if I wasn’t doing it. It’s very robust so I’m not really contributing to other things my team is working on, but I get a lot of input from them on the direction of my project. Quite literally, the “next steps” slide at the end of my final presentation is designed to be picked up by a full-time employee so that (fingers crossed) if I have good recommendations they can run with it and implement them.
What’s the team structure like?
There is a clear hierarchy with me at the bottom. Associate brand manager is the role I would be given an offer for. They work alongside senior associate brand managers doing the tactical work for the brand. They report to the brand managers who carry out the strategic plans of the directors.
What’s your project?
Without giving away anything too proprietary, my project is about creating a holistic re-activation plan for a brand. The brand itself has been in decline for about 5 years which is about the time the company turned off media spending. There are a multitude of questions to answer like:
What’s the demographic make-up of lost consumers?
Have we lost distribution of the brand and how do we get it back?
Has there been any innovation in the brand’s space and how has it affected the brand?
Is there a seasonality aspect to the brand and if so, how can we lean into it?
Plus many, many more.
All of these parts fit into the whole of creating an effective re-activation plan. There’s also the added aspect of the company not having brands compete against each other but always working together to create the greatest benefit for the organization.
How did you apply coursework?
If you’ve ever taken a marketing class, you can probably easily pick a few of the 4 P’s or 3 C’s from the few questions posed above. The marketing classes from Tepper were certainly instrumental in helping me to frame how I would approach these questions. Other classes were just as important in giving me the conviction that you can’t just see data and take it as is, you need to verify and confirm that what you’re seeing makes sense. This has proved to be extremely helpful in having real weight behind recommendations.
What are the networking opportunities like? Did you engage with Tepper alums?
The networking opportunities specifically designated by the company are numerous. Geographically, we’re not in a huge city so they make a point to create a very friendly environment where people really do hang out together on the weekends. As far as Tepper alums, I’m pretty much blazing a trail here. As far as I know, there are only two alums in the entire company and they are both in finance.
Benjamin Strickhouser | MBA 2019

Benjamin Strickhouser | MBA 2019

I grew up in a small town outside of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I always knew I wanted to travel the world, so I attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy for undergrad, majoring in logistics. Through school and my subsequent career as a ship's navigational officer, I was able to travel all over the world and continue to do so in a professional capacity in the Navy Reserve.
Benjamin Strickhouser | MBA 2019

Latest posts by Benjamin Strickhouser | MBA 2019 (see all)

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *