Kicking off the fall semester, the Broad College of Business’ Master of Science in Marketing Research program hosted the inaugural MSMR Spartan Insights Summit, attended by 120 industry professionals, alumni, faculty and students. The event marks an important milestone in both the program’s and the college’s legacy.
Led by Merrill Dubrow, CEO of M/A/R/C Research and MSMR Advisory Board chairperson, the daylong summit featured captivating executive speakers and panelists, including Anita Watkins, global head of qualitative, innovation and solutions learning at Kantar and the board’s vice chairperson.
Dubrow came up with the idea of a summit a few years ago, pulling inspiration from a similar industry event he organizes every year.
“The MSMR Advisory Board consists of C-level and senior-level executives at major corporations and market research firms. There is an abundance of industry insights among our board members alone — such knowledge should be exchanged and passed on,” he said. “After being elected chairperson of the board, I quickly envisioned a summit that bridges the gap between industry and academia, gathering all kinds of marketing research enthusiasts. The summit was truly the first of its kind in the Broad College.”
Dubrow and Watkins were instrumental in the planning process, partnered by a strong team of MSMR faculty and staff members, including Jessica Richards, director of the MSMR program; Richard Spreng, academic and founding director of the program; Ayalla Ruvio, associate professor of marketing; Vickie Lehtonen, office assistant; and Casie Grimes, master’s programs office assistant.
“I cannot thank our dream team enough for putting on such a successful summit,” Richards said. “The synergy among faculty, industry counterparts and students in the room was amazing. In the MSMR program, we strive to constantly add value to our students’ learning experience — our students were able to attend the event free of charge.”
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The summit brought together industry thought leaders and professionals to speak and connect with the MSMR board of directors, other industry leaders and students. It created a unique learning space where people with a passion for marketing research could exchange innovative ideas and establish connections. Some noteworthy topics discussed during the event are qualitative research in an age of disruption, innovation, best hiring practices and personal brand management.
“The speakers at the summit were absolutely brilliant,” Ruvio said. “Coming from leading companies in marketing research and insights, they are all pioneers in the field and made a lasting impression on everyone who attended. The presentations were on some of the most impactful topics our industry faces today and tomorrow.”
Dubrow added, “We carefully crafted the different presentations with both students and working professionals in mind, and our team was fortunate to host some of the best presenters and experts in our industry. Kaiser Yang, co-founder and managing partner of Platypus Labs, spoke on creativity and innovation for our morning keynote, and Ryan Barry, president of Zappi, finished the afternoon strong with the discussion of creating personal brands.”
The summit additionally served as a fundraising event for the program’s scholarships, raising over $7,000. All event proceeds went directly to supporting students — future marketing research industry leaders. Four MSMR students were honored at the event as Spartan Summit scholarship recipients: Ryan Baldwin, Abigail Bonsrah, Barbara Clark and Catherine Manceor.
“It was a true honor to receive this scholarship in front of leading industry experts and esteemed faculty members in my program,” Baldwin said. “The scholarship will help cover my tuition and support me in my future career path.”
Like other students who attended, Baldwin left the summit feeling inspired and motivated to enter the insights field.
“What struck me the most at the summit was how tight-knit the market research industry was — it is exactly where I want to be in the future,” he said. “The summit offered me a direct insight into life after graduation and ongoing industry transformations. It was a unique opportunity to see the industry in action and learn from the best of the best.”
Since its inception, the Broad College’s MSMR program has been a leader. Events such as the Spartan Insights Summit, paired with recent rankings placing the MSMR program as No. 1 in the world, help solidify our leading status in marketing research.
“The summit will take our program to the next level in terms of its role in educating and mentoring the next generation of marketing research professionals. I am immensely proud of the value that our program is creating in and outside of the classroom,” Ruvio said. “Events such as the summit cement our positioning as leaders and pioneers in the higher education space. The event’s success has inspired us to make it an annual MSMR tradition and explore other ways to further enrich our students’ experience.”
Dubrow added, “The summit was an amazing opportunity for me to give back to our industry, the MSMR program and its students. It has been extremely rewarding to host the event and work in conjunction with MSU faculty to make it happen.”
Broad’s Master of Science in Marketing Research program equips graduates for success in an ever-expanding industry. The program prioritizes the real-world application of knowledge and skills to best support students who want to accelerate their careers in marketing research.