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By Ruben A. Bravo-Castano, BSBA Marketing and Entreprenuership ’10

Last Friday, I had the honor to attend a fantastic annual marketing conference for the second time. The marketing department of the Eller College of Management strives to offer great opportunities to its students throughout the year, and the Thinking Forward: Leadership and Innovation in Marketing Conference is a clear example of this. Thinking Forward is a student-centered conference for marketing seniors, like me, and the department invites business and marketing leaders to discuss topics related to high performance marketing with them. It also recognizes outstanding graduate students through an MBA & Doctoral Award Ceremony.

There were four guest speakers, and they were fantastic. First, Lucas Erickson, Senior Marketing Manager at Wrigley Company gave a presentation titled Breaking the Rules to Create Gum’s Biggest Launch. He discussed the launch process for 5 Gum, one of the company’s most successful products and explained that the market embraced the product because it was radically different to all the other products in the same category. Then, Dr. Katherine N. Lemon, Accenture Professor of Marketing at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College gave one of the most interesting presentations I have seen about customer equity, customer asset management and customer-based marketing strategies. The next presentation was Shopper Marketing: The Next Big Wave in Retail Marketing by Dr. Brian Harris. Considered the “father of category management,” he offered a clear explanation of how to market to your customer in a retail environment using product categories to generate traffic and demand. Finally, Roxanne Ivory, Managing Director for Wirestone, LLC talked about Building Brand Loyalty in a World of Change, discussing how to leverage resources to improve a brand’s position in the market.

The event was a complete success. I enjoyed the time with my classmates, faculty and guest speakers and the subjects were very interesting. The effort the marketing department puts into providing Eller students like me with the highest level of academic experience available today is remarkable.

Next year, try to attend the Thinking Forward Conference… it will be a valuable experience.

Ruben A. Bravo-Castano