Thursday, October 30, 2008

I figured we should introduce you to our mascot, Bucky the Badger (pictured above). I would say that he is one of the better looking mascots in the NCAA and is much nicer than a real badger. From what Coach K tells me, they are pretty fierce and you wouldn't want to meet one in a dark alley or heavily wooded area. As you will see, CBPMers have had a lot of opportunities to interact with him, which is apparently not common. Everybody I talk to is suprised I have taken a picture with him since he seems to be pretty elusive.

Here is a link to YouTube of Evan Schmidt, CBPM Co-Director Amy Schmidt's seven year old son, doing more than just taking a picture with Bucky. Amy's husband Dan made Evan's halloween costume and they decided to take it for a test drive at the Homecoming Breakfast last weekend. Evan is a huge fan of Bucky (but who isn't really) and they were hoping to just get a picture of him and Bucky for his room. Bucky gave them a little more than that.
Check it out:

In this spirit, I have included a couple of more pictures for your viewing pleasure. If you have your own shot with Bucky, either send it to me ( or add it to the blog and share it with the world.

Here is a still shot of Evan (Class of 2029, CBPM) dancing with Bucky. I have no doubt that Mom and Dad were so proud. Now if he grows up to be Bucky then we have a story on our hands.

Seriously Corrine (1st year, CBPM), the thumbs up? That was your "go-to" move for the picture?

Tough call as to who looks better. Bucky does a nice job of pulling off wide, vertical stripes as there aren't many people that can do it. Matt Odigie (1st year, CBPM) is rocking the suit and tie, which is always tough to beat.

Here is my ICA (Integrated Company Analysis or 1st Year Group Project) Team minus one member. At this point we knew Bucky about as well as we knew each other. In order, Jessie Miller (CBPM), Ping Zhai (Nielsen), me, Jose Veguilla (Corp. Finance).

This is a picture of our faithful leaders, Amy Schmidt and Sarah Tueting. Sarah looks a little too happy to be taking a picture with Bucky.

Please send in your Bucky sightings!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Whoaaaaa.....We're half way there...Ohhhhhh.....Livin on a prayer...Take my hand and we'll make it I swear...Whoaaaaa...Livin on a prayer."
Nobody could sum it up better than Bon Jovi. This past week was the halfway point in the semester, which means: Mid-Terms. And not just your run of the mill exams where you wake up the morning of the exam still hungover and decide to flip through your notebook 20 minutes before class (hopefully I didn't completely give away my undergrad experience).

With Accounting on Monday and Finance on Tuesday most of us were running on fumes. I would say we were running on Dunkin like much of America, but there isn't a Dunkin Donuts in Madison, which is a whole other story for a different time and place. Finance was particularly difficult. That isn't right, Finance was an absolute whip. No other way around it. It was like two hours of playing paintball. You are going to make it through, but you are going to have a few bruises in key places and there is an above average shot that you ran into a tree or four at some point.

Before: This was how most of us felt Tuesday morning before the evening exam.

Remember that scene in Old School when Vince Vaughn looks up from his exam toward the professor, makes eye contact, gives him the thumbs up, and says, "Good test, this is a good test." Sort of had that feeling. I thought about doing that, but then the thought of Coach K taking my exam and telling me to leave the room overwhelmed me. I kept my head down.

When the exam was done, people literally clapped, gave high fives, I think there was even a chest bump or two. Following the exam, everybody headed to a local watering hole and took their frustration out on a pitcher or two. I have to say that has been one of the highlights of the semester to date. People that I haven't seen outside the walls of Grainger were throwing down drinks, having a good time, acting like undergrads again. Six weeks of studying, interviewing, preparing, all seemed to come to a head Tuesday evening. Needless to say, Wednesday was not the most productive day in the history of the Wisconsin School of Business. I know a couple of wounded warriors that were still feeling the effects on Thursday as well.
After: This was Greg Arseneau and Brian Ward coming out of the Finance Exam.
So far, everything has gone pretty well. We have our first set of midterms behind us and a couple of class projects under our belts so things are looking up. I finally feel like I am hitting my stride and getting into a routine, which typically means something is wrong. We have a little break this week, but have two midterms and a paper due next week so the break doesn't last long.

With more time, comes more posts. Have a great Monday!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

While scanning Smartbrief, BrandWeek, WSJ and every other daily RSS feed that litters your inbox, you’ll come across plenty of articles that spotlight good ideas. You’ll read about a few line extensions, some company’s new green initiative, and then you throw in some cause marketing press, and that’s your week in CPG. Rarely will you come across game changing ideas coming from CPG’s.

I must say, however, that the P&G “” platform that was profiled in a recent Financial Times article is definitely one of those game changing ideas (whether it’s ultimately successful or not).

P&G web move is challenge to retailers

By Jonathan Birchall in New York

Published: October 19 2008 22:34

Procter & Gamble is testing its ability to use the internet to sell its toothpaste, household cleaners and nappies directly to US households, in a potential long-term strategic challenge to its retail partners.

The company is supporting a website,, that is exclusively selling its brands, with items such as single tubes of Crest toothpaste and bottles of Mr Clean cleaning fluid, to boxes of its Pampers and Luvs brand nappies and Gillette razors.

The move brings P&G into direct brand competition with its retailers, underlining the extent to which e-commerce is contributing to changes in the way the two sides have traditionally worked with each other.

In an indication of the sensitivities involved, the site is being operated by a third party, which owns the inventory. “We treat them like any other retailer as they buy product directly from us,” said Paul Fox, a company spokesman, of the site, which is still covered by P&G’s legal terms and conditions.

However, as e-commerce expands, manufacturers of electronics, clothing and other goods have shown themselves increasingly ready to overcome traditional concerns over potential conflicts with their retailers.

For consumer packaged goods companies, industry analysts argue that direct online sales are also a way to respond to lower prices from retailers’ private label brands.

In beauty products, P&G’s rivals L’Oréal and Estée Lauder have been selling on the web for some time. Other leading consumer brands, including Kellogg’s, have formed close partnerships with Amazon to drive bulk sales.

In another indication of the flux, Wal-Mart, P&G’s largest customer, is hiring a strategy executive whose tasks include assessing the potential effect of direct-to-consumer sales by its own suppliers.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

Outside of what’s detailed in the article, I’d like to point out a few other things that may work to P&G’s advantage by leveraging
• They get direct consumer profile information on an engaged consumer.
• They can avoid slotting fees on smaller new product launches, or line extensions on “sustain” product lines.
• With customization becoming an ever-growing area of consumer interest (Check Nike ID, or Xbox Skins), P&G can offer a larger portfolio (colors, features) of Braun, Oral-B, and PUR products than would be available at retail.
• They’ll also have a platform to sell incremental product replacement and enhancement parts for their equipment focused brands. And these tend to be very high margin.

Scott Cook in the news...

Don't know if you caught the most recent version of AdvertisingAge, but there is an article about Scott Cook's most recent entry into the Harvard Business Review--"The Contribution Revolution: Letting Volunteers Build Your Business".

Why this is important? Both 1st and 2nd years are reading Scott's HBR article for the upcoming board meeting this week. We actually received the article prior to publishing so that is pretty cool. It will be interesting to go through the principles of this article with the actual author. Most of the time, the case studies we read are facilitated by professors, not authors so this should be interesting. My guess is that there won't be many takers challenging his point of view, but you never know.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Is it Friday already?

I am sorry for slacking this week on the Blog, but time just seemed to disappear. Studying for midterms has taken its toll, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. Let me bring you up to speed.

Last Friday, S.C. Johnson came for an Applied Learning. David and Gabe gave us two case studies to delve into. First, we looked at the Scrubbing Bubbles Automated Shower Cleaner. I am sure you have heard of this. It was the thing you put in the shower, pushed the button, and it sprayed your shower with Scrubbing Bubbles cleaner—pretty cool concept. David laid out the initial launch of the product including its advertising campaign and challenged us with making improvements in years two and three. I have to say that I was impressed with our groups. Each group seemed to quickly identify the areas for improvement that S.C. Johnson saw and provided a range of solutions that matched up with what was actually implemented. Score one for the CBPM.

Then Gabe took us through a similar process with Off’s Smooth and Dry product. I had no idea that insect repellent could actually dry upon application so he totally won over a new customer today. Our challenge was to come up with the appropriate marketing channels to use in the release this new product. I found it funny that even without budget constraints most groups tended to be cost conscious. We also limited ourselves to only four or five channels, while Off ended up using over 12 so I guess we still have more to learn.

Either way, these events are great because we get to apply what we are learning in class. I sometimes leave class and wonder if I really learned something or not. I am beginning to realize that I am actually retaining what I am learning in class. I think Jan and Deb (our marketing professors this semester) would be proud. It is also nice to feel confident about something class related after struggling through Finance and Data to Decisions. Hey, they grade on a curve, right? Sweet.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 10, 2008

GBA Golf Outing

Since I was unable to make the golf tournament, I asked fellow 1st year Mark Digman to give write up something on the event as it sounded incredible. It should also be noted that 2nd year John Oros put the whole tournament together. It was a daunting task and he did a great job.

A little over two weeks ago the 5th Annual GBA Golf Outing was held and it was a blast! To me, a beautiful day out on the golf course beats a day in the office or in class. What's even more important was that we were paired up with representatives and recruiters from a variety of companies that will be here on campus in a couple months to interview us for internships and full-time positions. The primary companies represented were General Mills, Kimberly Clark, Proctor & Gamble, Grainger, Johnson & Johnson, Raytheon, Best Buy, Robert W. Baird, and SC Johnson. It was an excellent opportunity to get exposure to these companies and their recruiters. It'll really be nice to have already met some of these individuals when interviews come around.

Picture 1: Mark and Doug Sticksel(2nd year CBPM) playing with P&G
Picture 2: Dave Oehler (2nd year CBPM), Erin Wilson (1st year Nielsen Center), Jon Jones (1st year CBPM, Christina Zwicky of General Mills (CBPM '07)

We played at University Ridge Golf Course which was in amazing shape (it's a far nicer course than I deserve to be hacking around on). And actually, it's pretty cheap for students to play. Everyday rates are $26 for students. But in all honesty, there wasn't a ton of talent displayed on the course. I think more people were interested in throwing back a few beers with the recruiters and enjoying the day rather than getting too competitive in the scramble. The day was a great and I'm certainly going to participate again next year.

Kyle here again: From talking to those that played, the contacts they made were incredible. To be able to ride along with Brand Managers and Assistant Brand Managers for five hours and ask them about the industry and their company is invaluable. I am jealous that I didn't get to play, but everybody has been very nice about introducing me to their playing partners when they come on campus.

Have a great weekend and thanks Mark for putting this together.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Developing Your Leadership Style as a Marketer ...

Last night, the CBPM second years attended a seminar with center board member Dick Antoine, who is the former global head of HR for P&G. The focus of the session was on leadership development for marketing leaders and covered two key topics: understanding effective leadership and developing personal leadership style.

Dick spoke from his experiences at P&G, where for more than 30 years he led talent development at various levels of the organization, including within production facilities and the supply-chain organization. He helped build systems and frameworks within the company to encourage and develop leaders and has had a lasting impact on the company.

I think that is what was most compelling about the session. Whether it is the illustrative examples, or the big-picture frameworks, Dick really had some good perspectives on what it means to be an effective marketing leader. And it was clear that he is passionate about building leadership in the next generation of brand marketers.

One of Dick's key points was to make the case for leadership being about more than just accomplishing tasks. Speaking of his experiences at P&G working with marketers to develop their leadership skills, he commented, "It always frustrated me when we had the leader of a team, and we asked him or her, 'Who are the least effective people on your team?' And I would always follow up with the question, 'what are you doing?'" His point was that leaders have to be engaged with their team and focusing not only on tasks at hand but on the personal and professional development of those whom they lead.

A key question that Dick posted was whether you are born as a leader or whether you can develop these skills. Second-year CBPM student Jake Abel shared his belief that "[t]here is a common misconception that leaders are born and not made. ... I think everyone has the ability to have those characteristics. The key is forging these characteristics." Dick agreed with this point but added, "I think experiences help shape leaders."

Another of Dick's key point was that there can be a diversity of leadership styles within an organization but that it is incumbent upon leaders to understand their own, unique leadership style. He noted that a number of factors impact leadership style, ranging from relgiopn to role models to experiences and education.

I posed to Dick the question of how an organization such as P&G can balance the goals of having a consistent culture while also having diverse leadership styles. He responded, saying,"I think culture is about shared beliefs. What are the values of an organization?." He continued that he believes the two can coexist. On the subject of culture and unity, he added, "I would argue it's also a focus on sustainable business results."

The session also explored different tools for assessing our individual leadership styles, including the Myers-Briggs, DISC Profile, and the concept of Situational Leadership.

Dick ended the session by talking about the 5-E Leadership Model he had helped to develop at P&G, and he talked about how to apply this model as a marketing leader. "Great leaders are in touch with their organization."

His key point was that leadership requires a complete awareness of one's business. "Make you set aside to understand the various parts of your business, not only the part you are responsible for. ... "You are managing a cross-functional team as a brand manager, and marketing and the agency are not the only elements," said Dick. He also argued for being a proactive leader: "Discipline around your schedule -- say to visit the R&D center or a consumer home twice a month. There aren't many people who have the belief and the dicipline."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Why did I decide to get my MBA? To get a better job. It is as simple as that. Yes, the learning is great and I like my fellow students, but ultimately we are all here because we want to advance our careers.

Internship interviews don’t start until January or February for most companies, but we are already starting to prepare. This is crazy. I haven’t taken a midterm yet and only received my first grade on a project this morning. Since the very first day of orientation, we have been preparing for interviews. Sarah held a meeting (or meetings in my case) with each one of us the first week to go through our resumes and “refine” them. I put refine in quotes because I know a lot of us had to do a lot of work on our resumes, which was painful, but completely worth it. The Center even brought in a specialist to help us with Case Interviews—ex. How many cabs are there in NYC?

During our Managerial Communications class every week, MBA Career Services has been walking us through the different steps of preparing for interviews and getting a job—cover letter writing, resume prep, company research, and basic interview skills.

And now, five second year students—Dave Oehler, Elena Taylor, Heather Holtsberg, Doug Sticksel, and Laura Hufschmidt—will be our Interview Team for the Fall. They spent three hours last night going through interview techniques and STAR story preparation with the 1st year class. We are meeting for three more hours next week to practice these techniques in small groups and have four other sessions scheduled before Thanksgiving. I have already had lunch with my team leader—Doug—to discuss what I need to work on and met with Dave today to learn more about his experience with General Mills specifically and the internship interview process in general. The best part was that Doug and Dave sought me out, not the other way around.

Why do I bring all of this up? Because when I talk to my friends (yes, I have friends) at other schools, they aren’t doing this. When I tell them that we are working on this as a team, they start to laugh. I guess it is much more competitive at other schools than here. A buddy of mine said that he expects to have three interviews at most and this is a supposed Top 10 MBA school. From what I am being told, I can expect to have at least three in one day. I guess our attitude is that there will be enough offers to go around so we need to help each other make the right decision and get better. When Corrine for example does a great job on an interview or at her internship, she will make me or Rishi or whoever look better and that is what matters.

I might be panicked about the Finance midterm (I am by the way), but for some reason, I feel like I am going to get a great job. I think that all of the time I am putting in right now is going to pay off when the real interviews start in January.
Off to study for Finance and Accounting, awesome.