Janelle Suttner’s pursuit of a career in marketing began during her undergraduate days at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas. After graduating, she started her career as an online marketing associate for nonprofit, Goodwill Central Texas.
Three years after launching her post-undergraduate career, Janelle decided to enroll in the MBA at the TCU Neeley School of Business. Janelle chose to pursue an MBA to take her career to the next level and differentiate herself in the highly competitive marketing field.
Janelle set her sights on a brand management role, and she adds that TCU Neeley stood out because of the personal connection they built with her when she was interviewing, the quality of the faculty, and the multiple opportunities for experiential learning offered on the MBA.
“Everything about the experience, from alumni reaching out to answer any questions, to the staff, [it] felt much more personal and that they really wanted me there,” she recalls.
The advantage of MBA consulting experience
During her degree she worked for Neeley & Associates, the inhouse consulting practice at TCU Neeley that allows full-time MBA students to work on real-time projects with companies in the local economy.
It’s one of the ways she developed the skillset that allowed her to accelerate her career in marketing after business school with consumer goods firm, Kimberly-Clark—she’s now a brand manager for their Viva products and has been at the company for nearly six years after graduating from Neeley in 2014.
Janelle worked with Neeley & Associates during her second year of the MBA, on a marketing project with food company, Frito-Lay.
“It was a really great way to apply all the skills we were learning, and to take the classroom and apply it to real life,” she explains.
That experience is something Janelle still calls upon. She explains that there are areas of her skillset she developed during that project that she still uses today for Kimberly-Clark.
The Neeley & Associates projects put together MBA students from various industrial backgrounds, forcing students to work cross functionally. Janelle worked with students from backgrounds in finance, marketing and supply chain.
It also helped greatly with networking. Neeley & Associates events throughout the year bring students together with TCU Neeley alumni and other local business leaders, providing potential opportunities for students to get their foot in the door after graduating.
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The impact of experiential learning
Experiential learning is a cornerstone of the TCU Neeley MBA experience, and Janelle explains that approach was tantamount to preparing her for life after business school.
“I think the biggest takeaway and biggest part of my job now is working with and leading cross functional teams.
“I work with different personalities and gathering everyone’s point of view and bringing them together for one business solution, that’s very much something I apply”
Janelle also developed her skills by completing multiple MBA internships during her degree—another key facet of the education at TCU Neeley School of Business. She worked as a brand management intern for Essilor of America, as well as in the global procurement and sourcing team with Alcon Laboratories.
Both internships were in the surrounding Dallas-Fort Worth area. There are 20 Fortune 500 companies in Dallas alone—Exxon Mobil, AT&T, American Airlines, for example—and students have ample opportunity to tap into that network during the MBA.
“The alumni at TCU are a huge benefit to the program,” says Janelle, “There are lots of companies in the Fort Worth metroplex. It’s a big area, and TCU has all the right connections.”
Launching an MBA career in marketing
Janelle always knew her post-MBA career would be in brand management. She came across Kimberly-Clark through the Hispanic MBA conference she attended during the degree.
TCU Neeley subsidized a portion of the conference fees and travel, and also helped set up meetings for Janelle with alumni who worked for Kimberly-Clark.
“They helped us prepare for those interview questions and what to expect. TCU helped us not only get to the conferences but to be prepared when [career] opportunities arose.”
Janelle interviewed with the firm and was offered a position in Wisconsin as associate brand manager for their U by Kotex products when she graduated. She’s worked her way up to her current role over the last six years.
So, would she be where she is today without the MBA?
“I don’t think so,” Janelle explains. “At the time Kimberly-Clark was very focused on getting marketers with MBAs. I would not have been as prepared without TCU and my MBA to take on a role like this.”
She also graduated with a network for life, and a connection that went beyond the classroom—one of her classmates was present at her wedding, and when Janelle gave birth to her daughter, she received a onesie adorned with a horned frog—the TCU mascot—for her. “They’ve become part of my family,” she smiles.
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