Friday, September 26, 2014

A Summer Spent with Georgia-Pacific

Neda Zaman, MBA '15
I had the incredible opportunity of doing my summer internship with Georgia-Pacific, where I worked in the B2B or “Professional” division of the company. My project was a blend of what you would expect in a brand management position, as well as an innovation role. My task was to strategize the launch of a new product, and take into account both short-term and long-term possibilities. 

This was my first role with a company in the CPG industry, as my experience thus far has been in automotive finance, renewable energy, and education industries. What attracted me to Georgia-Pacific specifically was their unique culture based on Market-Based Management®, and it was this culture that enabled me to thrive and to learn as much as I could about the paper industry and the company’s operations.

I spent the first few weeks of my 3 months' time getting acquainted with the company’s product line, which is expansive to say the least. Their business model is fascinating, and the culture there allowed me to schedule one-on-ones with almost anyone in the company in order to better acquaint myself with the various roles and functions. Once I began work on my project, I decided that I wanted to run a trial to gain directional learnings that would help me provide better recommendations. My supervisor loved the idea and gave me a lot of room to run the test, which gave us great results about both the product as well as the methodology. I took those results and fine tuned some of the estimates we had made for our target segments, tweaked our strategy for reaching them, and focused on researching the platform for the launch.

At this stage, I was invited to attend conferences with visitors from multi-billion dollar companies that frequently engage in business relations with Georgia-Pacific. Attending the presentations was an invaluable opportunity, as I gained critical information about the company we would be partnering with for the launch of the product, which allowed me to make better decisions about the pricing strategy. Every day of my internship was spent in a similar manner; from lunch-and-learns with the CEO and CMO, to deep dives into market research, to attending presentations by huge firms. Not only did I gain incredible experience and a glimpse into what my chosen career path was like, I also had the opportunity to do work of real value and significance to the company. I count this summer experience among one of the biggest impacts on my personal and professional development.

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