“I’m not applying – it’s a finance school.”
This was what, at the time, I believed to be a totally legitimate response to the question of why I had not included Wharton in my list of business school targets. Up until that point, I was under the assumption – which I know now to be categorically false – that Wharton placed its students into investment banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, and little else. I thought success out of Wharton meant Wall Street or bust.
“Actually, it’s just a smart school.”
And with that single response, a colleague threw my entire belief system into question. This random interaction opened my eyes and compelled me to do a bit more research; after perusing the website, I found a list of Fortune 500 companies with opportunities in operations, strategy and most importantly for me, marketing, as I wanted to transition post-MBA to become a brand manager. In an instant, I threw my initial assumptions out the window and put Wharton at the top of my list.
When I first showed up to Pre-Term, I admit that I still had a bit of anxiety. Would my classmates judge me for pursuing marketing? Would they consider me “less than” for not pushing for that consulting or banking offer? With these fears still brewing, I continued full speed ahead, knowing that if I was ever going to pursue a career of genuine interest, business school was the time to do it.
And what I found in the classroom was something that allayed any and all concerns: Marketing proved to be one of the most quantitative-driven majors at Wharton. We may not run DCF models in the traditional sense, but Pete Fader’s Customer Lifetime Value class employs the same DCF mechanics to measure customers over time and then use their purchase behavior as an input when calculating firm valuation. I’ve spent hours culling through data on consumers and reviewing regressions results to discern which product components are the most critical, and how to adequately price that product to gain the optimal market share. I’ve run conjoint analyses and set up A/B tests, two tools I didn’t even know existed until business school.
That’s what makes marketing at Wharton unique – my professors aren’t former advertising execs, they’re statisticians. I’ve benefited from Wharton’s proprietary research conducted in the Customer Analytics Initiative and the Baker Retailing Center, both of which garner enough data from multinational corporations to keep any nerd busy. Sure, our marketing classes discuss TV and digital campaigns, but we focus far more of our attention on the science and metrics behind marketing decisions.
After two years, I fully appreciate that Wharton is not a finance school; above all else, Wharton is a quantitative school. Whether you want to be a CMO, CFO, COO or CEO, the curriculum is geared toward preparing you for any role, building your comfort both with numbers and with the other critical part of the equation: managing people.
At some point during my first semester, I stopped questioning whether I would get the most out of what Wharton had to offer. I knew I would, and with graduation on the horizon, I can say that I did.
Posted: March 3, 2017