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Alumni Marketers Recommend Practical Experience, Openness to Opportunity to Reach Career Success

Becoming a successful marketer may require some twists and turns on your way to the top.

That was one of the messages MBA alumni shared with McCombs School of Business students at the Oct. 28 Marketing Conference, where leading marketers returned to campus to explore this year's focus on agile marketing.

During the panel discussion "Lessons Learned Since My Time at McCombs," four alumni with prominent marketing positions offered advice to job seekers preparing for roles at major corporations. 

Seek practical experience

Tony Rogers speaking at the Marketing Conference

Tony Rogers, BBA '90, MBA '97, chief marketing officer at Wal-Mart U.S.: "I really benefitted from the McCombs coursework, but also from the practicums and practical experience. I came in to the MBA program as an accountant and needed to have a resume that looked like a marketer. If you’re figuring out what you want to do, dive in and go beyond the coursework."


Learn to market your marketing

 Karen Plotkin speaking at the Marketing Conference

Karen Plotkin, MBA '98, executive director at Dell: "One thing that's important is the ability to build an argument. Even though you're not necessarily going into sales, you're going to have to sell your marketing — or market your marketing — to the rest of the organization. And building up the skills to do that, whether it's taking a negotiations class, or focusing on how you interact with others and getting practical experience, that's really critical."


Observe others

Sue Galvanek speaking at the Marketing Conference

Sue Galvanek, Texas Executive MBA '99, vice president of marketing for AT&T Partner Exchange: "Storytelling is so important. I don't steal shamelessly, but I watch how others around me do a good job at conveying a message. What are they doing exactly to convey that message? How are they taking the audience through the thought process and getting them to where they need to be? What's their body language? What's their tone?"


Engage with new experiences

Kate Garner speaking at the Marketing Conference

Kate Garner, MBA '03, senior vice president and general manager at Sam’s Club: "It's about looking around and finding opportunities to engage. If you listen to each one of us talk about our career experiences, there's a key theme: None of us would have been able to predict where we are today five, 10, or 15 years ago. But each of us has been open to opportunities to stretch ourselves, learn, and have new experiences, and that can start today."


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