What Does SGE Have to do with Mayonnaise?

by Alexa Ing Stern, MBA ‘17

Alexa Ing Stern, MBA ‘17

The SGE Immersion helped me find creative ways to solve ambiguous problems during my brand management internship at Unilever.

Going into the first year of myMBA, I knew I wanted to do brand management, so the Strategic MarketingImmersion (SMI) seemed like the logical progression. However, I am passionateabout business as an agent for sustainability so was drawn to the SustainableGlobal Enterprise (SGE) Immersion. Throughout the first year, I talked withlots of students, alumni, and faculty to ensure that opting out of SMI wouldnot hurt my recruiting prospects nor affect my ability to succeed during thesummer internship.

As I now wrap up the final weeksof my internship at Unilever, I can confirm that the SGE Immersion enabled meto both explore my passion and truly prepare me for an amazing summerexperience!

Alexa with mayo

At Unilever I am part of theHellmann’s/Best Foods brand management team. This team manages the entireHellmann’s/Best Foods business and coordinates the efforts of a variety ofcross-functional partners, including consumer insights, sales, research &development, supply chain, and finance. My internship project is to develop astrategy for optimizing the performance of Carefully Crafted, one of our newlylaunched products, and present it in a capstone presentation to seniorleadership at the end of my internship.

One of the most striking partsabout my internship is seeing how collaborative the brand management teams are.The collaborative culture at Johnson and extensive team deliverables throughoutthe first year prepared me very well for this aspect, and I am grateful thatUnilever’s corporate culture fosters many of the same values I love aboutJohnson.

The biggest challenges with myproject are data limitations: the target consumer segment for this new product,while growing quickly, is still very small and has not warranted much consumerresearch. Furthermore, the competitive landscape is very dynamic so data on thein-market performance of various products do not paint the whole picture. Towork around these issues, I have had to creatively piece together bits of datafrom a variety of sources.

Here is where my SGE Immersionexperience has been crucial. Throughout our SGE practicum project, my team andI grappled with lack of data; we practiced making reasonable assumptions andfound creative ways to triangulate to answers. Doing this was difficult for me.Making recommendations and decisions with information limitations was justplain scary! But doing so is an inevitable part of business: there are rarelycertain bets. Practicing this through my SGE project has helped give me theingenuity to find information in unlikely places and perhaps even moreimportantly, the confidence to stand with conviction behind the recommendationsmy analysis leads to!