Post-MBA Career Goals: Marketing
So you want to get into marketing after your MBA.
Digital growth and big data are driving modern businesses. In a world where customers are increasingly aware, globalized, and connected with each other, marketing is a core business function that also requires general management skills. Marketers use data to be more precise and predictive, rather than reacting retrospectively to customer behavior and market trends.
This makes marketing a highly desirable post-MBA function. In fact, 47% of corporate recruiters plan to place new MBA hires into marketing roles, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Corporate Recruiters Survey 2022.
Jon Cheng, Senior Consultant at SWC, spent much of his career working with brands at advertiser Ogilvy. After his MBA, he became a Brand Manager at General Mills. Jon sat down with us to discuss more about marketing as a post-MBA career. Watch the full YouTube interview here.
Why an MBA for Marketing?
“Marketing is the engine of growth for the company.”
Marketing professionals work with different functions early on within the business to understand its products and business model. This allows them to play a pivotal role in product creation and direction.
With such in-depth knowledge of the product, marketers are in a strong position to shape the company's growth through communications. That’s where an MBA program comes in. Key skills taught during an MBA like leadership, storytelling, consumer insights, and strategic communications are crucial when it comes to marketing.
As marketing increasingly becomes a science, data skills including proficiency with tools like Tableau and SQL help marketers work more analytically and predictively. MBA programs at top schools like Northwestern Kellogg and Chicago Booth include electives like Customer Analytics, Data-Driven Marketing, and Pricing Strategies to equip MBA students with data skills.
Marketing Roles for MBA Graduates
Some of the most popular marketing roles for MBA graduates include brand consulting, brand management, and product marketing management. According to Jon, marketing remains a strong and relatively countercyclical field and demand for these roles is largely consistent, especially among consumer product companies.
Brand consulting involves shaping the overall direction of a brand in collaboration with CMOs and senior marketing leaders. Some companies that specialize in brand consulting are Interbrand, Lippincott, and Prophet.
Brand management focuses on product development and growth through marketing strategies. Some examples of companies that offer brand management roles are General Mills, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Kraft, and Heinz.
Product marketing management (PMM) combines general management skills with a tech-oriented approach. PMM roles are offered at most FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) companies.
How Companies Recruit for Marketing Roles
Marketing companies look for three key skills in MBA recruits:
Storytelling: Candidates should demonstrate the ability to tell compelling stories. Being a strong communicator drives engagement with your audience.
Data Translation: Graduates should excel at turning consumer insights into persuasive narratives using data. Proficiency in advanced data tools like SQL and Tableau is especially important for PMM roles at tech companies.
Leadership: Marketing professionals often need to initiate projects spontaneously, sometimes in uncertain circumstances. Taking initiative, collaborating with others, and driving the product’s vision are essential leadership qualities for marketers.
The marketing recruitment process and timeline for MBAs depend on the type of marketing role and the company's practices and history with MBA hires.
General Management and Brand Consulting Roles: Companies targeting these roles often have diverse recruitment cycles and specific school preferences. Many companies have internship programs that lead to full-time hires through school events and conferences.
PMM Roles: FAANG companies typically follow similar recruiting cycles as other, similar roles, like Product Managers.
Brand Management Roles: Marketing companies typically offer structured recruiting programs for brand management roles. Graduates selected for internships work on projects, often in teams, under the guidance of mentors or team members. Feedback is provided during the internship to assess progress toward a job offer.
Brand Consulting: Recruitment for brand consulting roles largely depends on the company's past experience with MBA consultants and their ability to develop structured programs.
Choosing the Right MBA Program for Marketing
When choosing which MBA program to apply to, consider the company’s relationships with your target school. Use online resources like LinkedIn and career portals to research whether your target school has a proven history of graduates entering your target companies. This doesn’t mean that companies recruit more from certain schools over others; it only means that career counselors at these schools are better positioned to offer marketing-specific insights and link you to opportunities.
Next, research electives that will provide you with marketing skills, like analytics and marketing strategy classes. Some programs also provide specific marketing courses for lean startups.
You’ll also need to research relevant marketing or industry clubs and opportunities to engage in case competitions, lead consulting group projects, or accelerator programs for practical experience.
Some of the top schools that have a robust marketing pipeline are Kellogg and Ross.
How to Prepare for a Marketing Role Before an MBA
Candidates should familiarize themselves with their target industry and network with professionals at target companies before the start of their MBA program. This will help you get your foot in the door. Additionally, consider taking additional courses or boot camps to enhance specific skills, like data analytics, to enhance your skill-set.
Got more marketing questions for Jon? Need help positioning your MBA application for a marketing career? Send him a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.