There are many marketing research graduate programs available to students in the United States today. But the Master of Science in Marketing Research program offered by the Eli Broad College of Business has been acknowledged as delivering successfully on the commitment to create not only strong researchers but also strong future leaders in the marketing insights space.
A key driver of this differentiation is the level of industry senior leadership engagement in the program. MSMR has hired three current or former marketing research industry CEOs as regular instructors and includes a continuous flow of CEOs for classroom guest lectures.
Next generation of leadership
“My goal is that each MSMR graduate will be able to articulate a point of view regarding the industry’s future state and be comfortable positioning their role as a leader within it,” Michael Brereton, executive in residence, said.
Brereton has been full-time since 2015 and has been guest lecturing in the MSMR program since its launch in 2011, also serving as the founding chair of the MSMR advisory board. In addition to the MSMR program, Brereton has taught in the Full-Time and Executive MBA programs at MSU. Previously he was CEO of Maritz Research, which was the 12th largest research firm in the United States at the time.
Associate professor Richard Spreng, interim chair of the Department of Marketing and MSMR academic director, said, “Michael was instrumental in getting the [MSMR] program started at MSU. He provided critical advice in the program design stage and helped recruit an exceptional advisory board of high-level executives, many of them also presidents and CEOs.”
Brereton works to “identify the most transformative trends facing our industry, and then select companies that appear to be most influential in driving those particular areas of transformation,” he said. “We then invite those company leaders to engage in the classroom in a variety of formats. I have never had an executive turn down the opportunity to visit. Everyone wants to be part of creating the next generation of industry leadership.”
Beyond the comfort zone
Lynnette Cooke is global CEO of Kantar Health, a leading life sciences research and consulting firm. She was a founding member of the MSMR advisory board and has been teaching a course in consulting since 2015. Gleaning from both her client side and agency side experiences, Cooke is committed to preparing students to apply their new skills appropriately in the real world.
“I believe the MSU MSMR program is uniquely designed to create future leaders,” she said. “In addition to learning the principles of marketing research and analytics, I try to prepare students so that they are able to navigate through our fast-paced, demanding industry. I push them outside of their comfort zone to help them find their authentic leadership style and voice. During my short time with each cohort, it is amazing to watch their confidence in their consulting skills increase.”
Sarah DeLuca (M.S. Marketing Research ’17) reflected on Cooke’s teachings, sharing how she “engaged us with real-life examples such as a role-play between distraught clients and their consultants. We worked on active listening in exercises, which gave us insight into how to be a good listener in the business world and how others can sometimes interpret how you listen to them,” DeLuca said.
Expanding skill sets
The most recent CEO addition to the MSMR faculty is Scott Miller, a three-time CEO turned investor who most recently spent seven years as the CEO of Vision Critical. As an investor, his thesis is focused on balancing the power and responsibility of identifiable data, which he brings into the classroom through his course on insight communities.
“Through insight communities, identifiable data are empowering organizations and individuals to leverage insights to make the world a better place,” Miller said. “We are only scratching the surface of what is possible, and it is the next generation of progressive insights professionals that will determine how influential and responsible we are with these data.”
Miller sits on boards of directors for a number of companies that share this thesis, from data management to precision health and agriculture to brand development and customer experience management.
MSMR student Julia Sattler shared that Miller’s “enthusiasm on the topic translated into the course as we executed client projects and were even given the opportunity to become certified online community moderators. The course gave us real-world experience and offered valuable opportunities to expand our skill sets, setting us apart from other students who are also entering the workforce,” she said.
Beyond the C-suite faculty members, marketing research CEOs are often welcomed to campus as guest lecturers, with two visiting the MSMR program last fall.
Karyn Schoenbart is CEO of the NPD Group, a global provider of information and advisory services and the eighth largest market research firm in the world. Passionate about coaching others to greater levels of achievement, Schoenbart is also the best-selling author of Mom.B.A.: Essential Business Advice From One Generation to the Next, a practical guide on everything from effective first impressions and workplace politics to relationship development, skill-building, and overcoming impostor syndrome. She presented to business undergrads and MSMR students and met with women business students while on campus in September.
“It was a pleasure speaking with and meeting the students of MSU,” she said. “Their questions were insightful and thoughtful, and they are eager and curious students. It is clear that MSU is preparing them for success in the business world.”
Merrill Dubrow, CEO of M/A/R/C Research, one of the largest research firms in the United States, visited MSMR and marketing MBA students in November. Dubrow is a 35-year veteran of the insights industry and is a much-sought-after speaker for industry conferences and university lectures.
In addition, Dubrow has won a number of national awards, including the Marketing Research Association’s Distinguished Service Award, the Meritorious Service to Marketing Research Award and the Honorary Lifetime Membership Award for outstanding service to MRA and the marketing research profession.
“I love the passion and energy at the Michigan State MSMR Program. It is an honor and a privilege to be a guest lecturer for the next generation of insight professionals,” he said. Dubrow serves as the host for the MSMR Spartan Insights podcast and as an advisory board member for the program.
“Besides being an influential CEO within insights, Merrill is one of the most dynamic speakers you will ever see,” Spreng said.
MSMR student Rebecca Roberts also added: “When Merrill visited our class, I was able to receive advice in a lecture that will help me to better understand the industry I am moving into. He also acted as a mentor for me, taking time despite his busy schedule to speak with me after class was over to provide further personalized assistance and guidance.”
By inviting senior executive leadership to participate in the MSMR classroom, the Broad College is ensuring that MSMR students receive a firsthand understanding of the current issues facing the industry and better understand the practical application of the skills they are being taught. The executive sessions are typically hands-on, exposing students to the tools and thought leadership considered most leading-edge in the market today. A secondary benefit is that the students can develop personal relationships with senior executives in the research industry — an invaluable career networking opportunity.