For Career-Switchers, There’s a First Time for Everything

by Adam R. Beane, MBA ‘10

Adam R. Beane, MBA ‘10

Like many of my Johnson colleagues, I pursued an MBA not to advance my current career, but to put myself on a new path altogether. I spent three years moving sideways at a well-known hotel chain, but when the long-awaited promotion opportunity finally arrived, I found myself hesitating to accept the job. It was time to admit that I was in the wrong career. It was at that point I decided to become a switcher.

It’s now almost exactly six years later. Today I spent several hours listening to consumer focus groups discuss a media campaign idea I approved, based on a creative brief I wrote, to sell products I launched, for a brand I lead.

Every time I sit behind the one-way mirror at our research facility watching a scientifically-recruited panel talk with a professionally-trained moderator, I think back to the first focus group I ever witnessed. It happened on the fourth floor of Sage Hall and it wasn’t so scientific.

We were running a panel to support our sponsored real-world project: delivery of a go/no-go launch recommendation for a national beverage brand. That day our consumers were the spouses of our classmates. The recruiting criteria? You had to have kids and be available on Tuesday afternoon.

We broke all the rules of consumer research mostly because we didn’t know them yet. Leading questions? Check. Reacting negatively to honest responses? You bet. Speculating about our own product performance? Absolutely. Bashing the competition? Of course.

But I learned. And I loved it. Mistakes were common but they would be corrected for the second panel. Classroom simulations, case studies, sponsored projects, and company visits: each an opportunity to do something I hadn’t done before and build skills needed to compete for the job I knew I wanted.

Where else but the Strategic Marketing Immersion would I get my first real-world experience with competencies that are now the building blocks of my career? Product launch planning? My first time. Innovation road-mapping? First time. Competitive response analysis? First time. Brand equity building? First time.

That’s why I chose Johnson. For me and for all the career-switchers, there’s a first time for everything.