Kaetlyn was born in Ontario, but spent most of her youth in Vancouver, BC. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Victoria where she specialized in business management. Likely a product of moving so much in her formative years, one of her favourite activities is travelling. Kaetlyn loves being exposed to and learning from different cultures. In her undergrad she was fortunate to integrate travel into her degree by going on two exchanges, to Australia and France. These exchanges really helped shape her university experiences.
Why did you choose Dal’s MBA? What influenced your choice of major?
I chose to come to Dalhousie to obtain my MBA for several reasons. First, I wanted a change of scenery and to attend school on the East coast in order to make some new connections and challenge myself personally. Secondly, many aspects of the Dalhousie MBA program, such as the smaller class sizes, high accessibility to professors, the corporate residency component, and the personal and professional development program, put Dalhousie above many other MBA programs. Most importantly, though, the MBA program at Dalhousie allowed me to take advantage of the employer relationships with CPGs in Toronto. This really helped me to get my foot in the door and begin to pursue a career in marketing management.
My decision to specialize in marketing was influenced by industry experience. I gained experience post-graduation as the marketing manager for an upscale restaurant in downtown Vancouver, and as a marking management intern for Colgate-Palmolive on my corporate residency. I love marketing because there are so many different aspects to it. In order to be successful, marketers have to have a strong analytical and strategic skill set, as well as an ability to manage projects, multi-task and have a good creative eye. Further, being a good marketing manager requires the ability to be persuasive and sell others on your ideas. This comes from having a good understanding and analysis surrounding the market and consumer, and how to build, develop and execute a strategy that will be effective.
What do you think is the most valuable skill/lesson you learned from your residency? Do you have any advice for prospective students heading into their residencies?
I did my residency at Colgate-Palmolive as a marketing management intern for the toothbrush brand. One of the most valuable things I learned was how and when to leverage other people in the organization. For example, I helped develop the strategic brand plan for toothbrushes for the first quarter of 2013, which included determining which new products to introduce and which ones to discontinue. By gaining a better understanding of what people in each functional department are responsible for, and the insight they have into product performance, I was better able to leverage my colleagues’ knowledge in developing my recommendation.
My advice to students going into their residencies is to challenge yourself! In my position with Colgate-Palmolive, my manager (who was the brand manager for toothbrushes) was promoted to another brand. I was asked if I felt comfortable enough to manage the brand on my own for the final four months of my residency. While I didn’t exactly know what I was doing, I was confident in my ability to learn and challenged myself by accepting. It was a lot of work and a steep learning curve, but it was the best decision I could have made because of how much I learned and the experience I gained.
What is your role in the MBA Society?
I am the director of program culture for the MBA Society. My role is to strengthen personal and professional ties within the program. I do this by creating opportunities for people to interact with one another outside the classroom. I also, along with other members of the Society, determine ways in which we can improve the program from a student perspective.
What events have you organized? How do you think activities outside the class add value to the program?
I have organized dinners, gift exchanges, holiday parties and a city-wide scavenger hunt, among other things. Currently, as head of the graduate committee, I have helped organize a tall ship cruise, dinner and grad trip for the class of 2013.
The activities I organize add value to the class by allowing students to connect on a personal level. Building friendships within the program allows for an enhanced level of comfort, which leads to more dynamic discussions in class and will be beneficial in the long run as we leverage our relationships with classmates in our careers.
What has been your favourite event you organized?
My favourite event was the city-wide scavenger hunt I organized at the beginning of this academic year. This event was designed as a way for the first and second year classes to get to know one another. Teams were created so that groups mixed the two classes and created a list of activities that would help facilitate bonding between the cohorts. We ended the night at a local bar and had pizzas delivered as we shared stories and presented awards. It was a great team-building exercise for the two classes, and really set a positive tone for the year.
What value do you think the Society adds to the program? Has it helped you create any significant friendships?
The Society does a great deal for the program. We really try to have a positive impact by representing student interests to the program. This year we have been able to actively participate in implementing curriculum changes, provided support for first year students, organized community and fundraising events and worked towards improving the program for future years’ students.
If you could give one piece of advice to prospective students, what would it be?
To get the most out of the program, you need to get involved. Beyond being on the MBA Society, I was a teaching assistant for an undergraduate Commerce class, a mentor for incoming students, I created and ran a marketing consulting firm with two classmates, and took part in case competitions like the MBA Games. These extra-curricular experiences have been just as important to me as my academic experience, and added some invaluable experience to my MBA degree.