Originally posted by Jordan Fujiwara.
This week we’ll be learning all about Chad LeClair’s interesting corporate residency with Colgate-Palmolive. Chad’s from around here, here being Halifax, Nova Scotia. He also got his undergraduate degree at Dalhousie: a BComm with a major in finance.
Looking to shift gears a bit after working in the financial world, Chad came into the Corporate Residency MBA with a new focus: marketing. Why the shift? Chad explains: “I’ve always stood by the fact that work flow and problem solving is much more important than subject matter. I’d never consider myself to be a subject matter expert: I like to solve a problem and move on and solve another. The more that learning new things is involved, the better I do.” Comfortable with moving outside the realm of finance, Chad got scooped up by Colgate-Palmolive and moved to Toronto this past January.
He found himself in a small but focussed department: “In the U.S. Colgate is structured as two companies,” he says, “’Colgate’ and ‘Professional Oral Care’ [POC]. They have two distinct goals. Colgate focuses on driving revenue. POC focuses on educating dental professionals about the benefits of Colgate products so they will recommend them to their patients.” In the U.S. the POC department may well have over 40 people working for it. In Canada, however, its equivalent consists of only a few people. One of those people was Chad. “There was a manager, a professional relations person, a field sales force, and me. I was the only person that helped the manager with marketing and advertising on a day-to-day basis; we were essentially running an entire business.”
To clarify, marketing within the POC department doesn’t concern itself with selling me and you toothpaste. Rather, it focuses on educating and marketing to dentists, hygienists and other professionals in order to educate them about the benefits of Colgate products. “My day-to-day consisted of a lot of project management. There were professional conventions and professional sampling initiatives that I coordinated. I spent a lot of time on the phone calling convention centres, working with brand teams, preparing presentations or helping my manager prepare for his presentations.” Chad also worked closely with an account executive from an advertising agency, since a lot of promotional material needed to be created. “Some of the materials I produced were actually designed to be given to a consumer by a professional.” Other materials included mail packages to entice professionals to come to the Colgate booth (at conventions), materials for the booth and, of course, the booth itself. “One of the most exciting things I got to do was to go to one of these dental conventions and see all the stuff and the booth I created in use. It was an amazing booth and was probably the best one at the show.” Chad also made sure he was enjoying life outside of work too. During the residency he was able to get his Advanced SCUBA diving certification and dive in the St. Lawrence River. As soon as his residency was over he took a trip to the Bahamas and did a little shark diving! No big deal.
Chad’s adventure in marketing didn’t come without a few challenges. Landing the residency wasn’t a walk in the park. This is a reality that all prospective students should soberly prepare themselves for. “I didn’t get a residency until later on, like end of October, early November,” recalls Chad. “I think for me what was difficult to overcome was just kind of the hit to my self-esteem from having nine interviews and not getting any interest. I don’t think you can really keep yourself from getting a little down about that, or being frustrated with it. You just have to not let those feelings get in the way of trying; let yourself have them, understand why they’re there, but also know you can still be positive and excited. Just because the first nine people aren’t interested doesn’t mean anything’s wrong. I believe that whatever scares you… on the flip side, it excites you.” Following his mantra, Chad obviously attracted the people at Colgate-Palmolive and secured a pretty cool residency, proving that if you stick to it, you’ll land in a good place.
Looking forward now, Chad is considering several different career options. He is particularly interested in the consulting business since it fits his preference to solve a wide variety of problems, though he would be perfectly happy taking on a marketing role as the problems therein tend to be more dynamic and unique than many other fields.
Alright, that’s all for today! On Thursday I’ll have another interview, but now on Tuesdays we’re highlighting some of our videos on the blog too, so be sure to check that out! Adios.