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By Katie Freberg, MBA ’11

Katie Freberg, MBA '11, and Mattel CEO Robert Eckert

Mattel CEO Robert Eckert and Katie Freberg, MBA '11.

Since I was 7 years old and my grandma taught me how to design and sew clothes using a Barbie, I have dreamed of working for Mattel.  As one of the recipients of this year’s “Thinking Forward” competition, on May 24, 2010, I had the amazing opportunity to shadow University of Arizona alumnus Mr. Robert Eckert, CEO of Mattel.  Not only was I thrilled to meet Mr. Eckert, but also to have the experience of visiting the corporate headquarters where Barbies, Hot Wheels, and Fisher Price toys are envisioned, designed, and created.

The day of shadowing began with introductions and meeting Mr. Eckert in his office.  Immediately I knew it would be an incredible day.  Throughout the day I had the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with the Stephanie Cota, Senior VP of Marketing for Barbie, Alan Kaye, Senior VP of Human Resources and Tom Debrowski, VP of Worldwide Operations.  All which proved to be very insightful.  One of the most exciting parts of the day was the tour of Mattel’s Design Center.  Some exciting things I saw on the tour included the sound studio, the Hot Wheels and Matchbox team of designers, and the Barbie division.  My favorite part of the tour was seeing how each Barbie is created—especially the hair and make-up studio.  Towards the end of the tour I was greeted by Robert Best, one of the designers for Barbie Collectibles, and received a signed Barbie.  It was definitely a dream day!

Kate Freberg looks on as Mattel designers text HotWheels tracks.

Kate Freberg looks on as Mattel designers test Hot Wheels tracks.

While so many CEOs are busy with shareholder meetings and jet setting, Mr. Eckert makes sure to take time out of his busy schedule to give back to the community as well as provide students with the chance to see the daily operations of a Fortune 500 company.  I can honestly say that Mr. Eckert is a very kind, genuine, family-oriented and down-to-earth man.  It was an exciting time to visit Mattel because Mr. Eckert had just celebrated his 10 year anniversary with the company.  While in Mr. Eckert’s office I was even lucky enough to see some of the great presents and video messages he had received from Mattel employees across the world.  I left the shadowing experience with an even greater desire to work for Mattel.  Not only are the people great, but to work in an environment where each person strives to put a smile on a child’s face is definitely somewhere I could call my second home.

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