Student Profile: Brand Management
Jonathan Lehr '09
Pre-SOM: Rocket Software
Co-leader, Q+ Gay/Straight Alliance, Marketing Club
Summer Internship: L’Oréal
I worked for a startup technology firm before coming to SOM. There were only 10 employees when I joined and around 700 by the time I left. I really grew up in the company. I had a variety of roles but focused on sales, business development, and marketing.
Eventually, though, I began to feel as if I didn't quite have the right tool set to move into the general management role I’ve always envisioned myself in. As I began to investigate MBA programs, SOM’s integrated way of looking at things and unique approach to teaching made sense to me. Whatever your focus at SOM, you're going to be prepared to be a leader.
I can say unequivocally that it was a great decision. It was just the right fit. The quality and diversity of the students is phenomenal. And the MBA is giving me the qualifications to go out for jobs I couldn’t have competed for before.
Coming out of SOM, my end goal is to have profit-and-loss responsibility for a product line or business unit. One way to accomplish that is through brand management at a consumer packaged goods company. So I interned for L'Oréal USA in Manhattan. It was a great experience. I was inspired by how enthusiastic people were about what they were doing. It was vastly different from any other environment I'd been in.
My responsibilities were divided between day-to-day brand operations and a strategic project. I was working with a vice president who oversees several brands, so on the day-to-day side I was working with engineers who are developing formulas on manufacturing, advertising, merchandising, and sales. I really loved it.
But I also really enjoyed the strategy aspect, which put into play a lot of things that I studied at SOM. My project was to analyze a commodity market that L'Oréal is not currently in. They basically told me, "Analyze this market and tell us about whether or not L’Oréal should enter it."
As I started sifting through the data, I had several good frameworks from class guiding me on how to look at the information. Right away I was able to say, "Okay, we’re talking about this type of market and this type of competition. That means the level of profit would probably be this."
I was able to make a recommendation on whether it made sense for L’Oréal to get into the market and how to do it. The school and everything that falls under that — the professors, students, coursework, alumni, clubs, and the activities you can get involved in — it all adds up to provide you with the tools to make these sorts of sound judgments in context. Interviewed October 21, 2008.