Dena White vonWerssowetz was on track to build a successful career in finance when she realized she wanted to forge a new path. vonWerssowetz was working as a financial analyst for the Brunswick Corporation’s boats division in Knoxville when she decided to go back to school and earn an MBA.
“I wanted to switch gears and focus on marketing,” says vonWerssowetz, who earned a bachelors degree in finance from the University of Tennessee in 2007. “I had the opportunity to participate in a few marketing projects with the UT athletic department when I was an undergrad, and really enjoyed the experience. When I learned that the UT MBA Program was launching an in-store shopper marketing program, I knew that was where I wanted to be.”
vonWerssowetz joined the UT Full-Time MBA Program with the clear goal of working in marketing for the CPG (consumer packaged goods) industry. She says her time spent in the workplace helped her fine-tune her career plan, a process that led vonWerssowetz to a prime shopper marketing position at Frito-Lay immediately after graduation.
“I went back to UT and did exactly what I wanted to do,” she explains. “The UT Full-Time MBA Program gave me the experience and opportunity to get the job of my dreams. Just a couple of years after graduation, I am the brand manager for Doritos. I love sports, football, and CPG marketing, and now I am working on Super Bowl programs and partnerships with Taco Bell and Anheuser-Busch. Every day I want to pinch myself because I can’t believe I get to do this for a job. I know that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone to UT.”
While vonWerssowetz credits the combination of her marketing classes and a summer internship with The Walt Disney Company in California with preparing her for career success, she says that the support of the UT MBA alumni network was invaluable in helping her gain a competitive advantage in her job search.“A huge advantage for UT MBA students who want to work in the CPG industry is the supportive alumni network,” she adds. “There are so many phenomenal graduates within the industry who want to pay it back and help students. Those personal connections are what really made me want to go here for my MBA.”
Dena White vonWerssowetz on how the UT Full-Time MBA Program helped her LEARN, TRANSFORM, and LEAD:
“Even though I had worked for nearly two years, my first semester as an MBA was extremely helpful because it provided a broad overview. The classes offered a refresher on subjects I had as an undergrad, as well as exposure to courses I hadn’t taken as a finance major. I found modeling particularly helpful, and I also had the chance to do a second concentration in logistics and supply chain. That was really important and helps me on a daily basis in my job at Frito-Lay.”
“The MBA Program helped me build the tools I needed to be successful. My marketing classes were absolutely wonderful, and I did a lot of in-store marketing and retail during my summer internship with Disney. When I went out to interview with companies, I was able to demonstrate that I would be a valuable asset to any company. For me, confidence comes through knowledge and being prepared for what I am about to do. That is what UT did so well.”
“Frito-Lay delivers everything into the actual grocery stores. We don’t ship it and have store personnel stock the shelves. Since we run our supply chain, it is critical for me as a brand manager to also understand how logistics works and how to collaborate effectively with our partners. I rely on the skills I built through the UT MBA Program to successfully get projects and products into stores every day.”
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