On Sept. 11, marketing professor Gil Harrell welcomed guest speaker Karyn Schoenbart to an upper-level marketing class. Schoenbart has more than 30 years of experience in the marketing industry and has been highly awarded, receiving the Women in Consumer Technology Legacy Award in 2017 and the SmartCEO Brava Award the year prior. She currently serves as CEO for the NPD Group, a major market research firm, and was recently listed in the Top 25 Most Influential Women of the Mid-Market by CEO Connection.
Beyond her years of experience in market research, Schoenbart has received widespread acclaim for her best-selling book, Mom.B.A.: Essential Business Advice From One Generation to the Next. The book draws on her experiences from both her professional and personal lives to give a more honest perspective on entering the working world. Schoenbart offers real-world guidance on everything from making a great first impression on a potential employer to stepping into a leadership role.
Schoenbart’s presentation, titled “My Journey to CEO,” offered Broad students a unique insight into the skills required to achieve a long, successful career while creating a balance with family and friends. Afterward, she opened the floor to questions from students.
Those in attendance had much to say on the information they garnered from Schoenbart’s lecture. Shelley Berner, a junior studying marketing, expressed how inspiring it was to meet with a CEO who is both a woman and a mother. “My greatest takeaway from the presentation was the importance of having balance in your life and that it is possible to be a boss lady CEO while being an awesome mom,” Berner said.
Another marketing junior, Karoline Bushley, contributed something similar. “Karyn, your story of rising to success through hard work and volunteering was very inspiring to me,” Bushley said. “As a young woman in business, I love to see a strong successful female at the top!”
Michael Brereton, fixed-term faculty in marketing, observed the variety of students in attendance, from curious underclassmen to graduate students, and how the talk provided “perspectives on industry trends and emerging opportunities. It was a tremendous practical learning experience for all students involved,” Brereton said.
The following morning, Schoenbart met with several smaller groups of students for further conversations. She joined 14 undergraduate students from the Women in Business Students’ Association for a networking breakfast. Rather than giving another presentation, Schoenbart opened up the session for discussion and signed copies of her book.
Schoenbart also met with a group of 30 students enrolled in the Master’s in Marketing Research program, who appreciated the chance to speak with a veteran of the industry. “It was an invaluable opportunity to be able to receive candid advice about job searching, interviewing and balancing life,” said graduate student Julia Sattler.
In Mom.B.A., Schoenbart devotes the final chapter to contextualizing the reality of so-called “work-life balance.” She stresses the importance of rolling with what life throws at you, saying, “Part of surviving the work-life balance dilemma is to have a good sense of humor and to be able to laugh at the situation.”
Students who heard Schoenbart speak appreciated a more upfront presentation than they would normally receive. “I learned that it is OK to be insecure about yourself and your abilities as long as it does not hold you back from what you need to do,” said junior marketing major Grace Rochelle.
Schoenbart was equally impressed with the attendees and had inspiring words for the future graduates. “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.”