Marketing Roles - What Companies Look For in MBA Candidates

Marketing is one of those functions, that if done successfully, requires a little bit of everything. In other words, it is highly cross-functional and requires a lot of different skills. In Kathryn Ullrich’s Book, Getting to the Top, Strategies for Career Success, she states that close to a third of CEOs have a sales/marketing background, which also turns out to be the biggest bucket for CEO background functions.

Being somewhat new to business, this was something I did not know before or during my MBA at Duke. I think my biggest misconception back then, which many other non-MBAs also had, was that marketing equated to advertising – the kind that went on cereal boxes at the supermarket.

Advertising, while a tactic that results from the development of marketing strategy, is only a very small portion of a marketer’s role, and probably the one that is the least impactful from a value-add perspective.

Where marketers add more value is in developing the strategy of a brand and deciding how to position it in the marketplace. This is the strategic side – after this marketers rely on leadership and operational skills to align teams and ultimately execute the plan. As you may imagine, the newer the brand, and the more brands that compete in a market segment, the bigger the challenge to marketers. Here's my experience taking the Marketing Strategy course at Duke Fuqua.

Here’s what hiring managers and commercial leaders look for in MBA candidates recruiting for marketing roles. Before you read on, here's a backgrounder on commercial/marketing roles in the pharma industry. 
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Book Review: Getting to the Top, Strategies for Career Success

On this blog, I talk a lot about how my MBA from Duke has helped me successfully transition from science into business. However, since the time I graduated, I found that that I needed to continuously learn how to navigate the next steps in my career – something the MBA did not prepare me for. I think the MBA – albeit rightfully – is focused on career transition, whereas after school one must shift focus onto career progression.
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