In this edition of 7 Questions with a Spartan, J’ness O’garro ’18 (Finance), ’19 MBA discusses her current role as an Assoc. Brand Manager of Duke’s Brand at Sauer Brands Inc. O’garro, who concentrated on marketing while pursuing her MBA, says she enjoys this fast-paced industry and looks forward to taking on something new every day.
1. What do you love most about your job?
My favorite part about brand management is how many areas it actually encompasses. What someone thinks of your brand has everything to do with its success. Most people think brand management is just marketing-related, though you actually have to know what’s going on in every area that affects the brand such as finance, operations, marketing, social media, research and development, sales, etc. We have multiple meetings daily with different members from all of these different departments. Also, in this fast-paced industry, you have to stay on top of innovation, and you have to keep a close eye on what your competitors are doing on every level. The devil is in the details! Also being in the food and consumer packaged goods industry means a lot to me. I love baking and cooking, and my favorite memories involve them from a young age. Getting to work in an industry that I love where I can directly relate to the product means a lot to me. At Duke’s, we have mayonnaise, flavored mayo, dressings, barbecue sauces, other sauces and condiments, and even mustards launching soon!
2. What’s exciting about the future of your industry/position?
This industry and position, like others, change as time goes on. My favorite part about it all is the creative side of marketing and branding. Every day companies have to study what their competitors are doing and think of ways to simply do it better, from creative digital billboards to in-store displays. As we progress all of our marketing, digital platforms change and evolve. It’s not just placing ads in a newspaper anymore, now people such as bloggers and influencers can make a living off of reviews or branding videos. Something can go viral overnight, and meetings are being made the next day with offers to that person. Also, seeing how products and even packaging can evolve and adapt is fascinating.
3. What do you personally find most challenging as a professional?
The most challenging part as a professional is having to learn and adapt to different personalities and working/learning styles. Being able to communicate effectively, respectively, and simply listening and hearing someone out is important.
4. What is something you did (or wish you had done) in college to prepare for this position?
Teamwork is essential! Throughout my MBA program, we were constantly in teams and collaborating in almost every single class. My cohort became extremely close, and like family (we even spent days in the wilderness completing team-building activities two summers in a row). At the time it was a lot, especially balancing so many different ideas, schedules, etc. Knowing how to work with others who might not think like you, or act like you, is vital. Being able to think through and talk about other ideas on the same project or topic is such an underrated skill.
5. What additional training, certifications, professional organization memberships, etc. have helped you professionally?
First and foremost, I credit so much to my MBA 731 Brand Management class. It means so much to me. During this class, I simply fell in love with what I get to do every day for a living. Dr. (Merlyn) Griffiths is hands down the best professor I’ve ever had, and her love for teaching and the subject itself was clear week after week during our classes. During this class, we worked on projects and models that are done exactly the same at my job and at other large companies. Also being president of Sigma Alpha Lambda National Leadership and Honors Organization in undergraduate school, and the National Association of Women MBA’s in graduate school, helped me strengthen skills that I use in my professional life. I was able to come out of my shell and manage board members, chapter meetings, facilitate community events, and so much more.
6. What should students interested in entering your field know?
If you love the different parts of running a business, or building and managing a brand, brand management might be the perfect fit for you! There are challenges, and the fast pace can be a lot sometimes, however it is never boring! You really get to think and be creative in every part of the brand. I’ve enjoyed talking to students the past two semesters that are in the same brand management class I took at UNC Greensboro. I’m always open to students who have questions or just want to talk about the world of brand management.
7. What resources – books, blogs, websites, podcasts, etc. – would you recommend for someone interested in your field or in a position like yours?
My MBA 731 Brand Management textbook is actually something I still use today! (I know you’re thinking you probably wouldn’t use a class textbook ever again.) It’s called “Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity” by Kevin Keller. It really does an incredible job of laying out every aspect of a brand, and the importance of all of the moving pieces.