H@H: Ep. 35 – On this week’s edition of the Here@Haas podcast, Ana Alanis joins host Ray Guan to talk about her journey to Haas. Ana shares with us her explorer mindset going into the program, including several events she attended while finding her ‘north star’. We then talk about Ana’s involvement as co-President of the Haas Marketing Club (HMC), including events and workshops to look forward to. Ana also shares with us her summer internship at Clorox, and how she learned much more about cleaning supplies than she bargained for. Finally, we wrap up with some elective recommendations and advice for future applicants.
On more data-driven jobs in marketing – “You’re not going to be the data scientist on the team…but the ability to interpret data is getting more important. When that data scientist does give you some results on a study, you have to be able to interpret and make business decisions on them.”
Advice for prospective students – “Have your story ready, but don’t tie yourself to that story. Come in with an open mind, and also come in knowing that we all can come in with different strengths.”
Links & References:
[00:00:03] Ray: Welcome to the here@haas podcast. I’m your host, Ray Guan. And today we’re joined by Ana Alanis, a full-time MBA student of the class of 2021. Welcome to the podcast Ana.
[00:00:19] Ana: Thanks for having me, Ray.
[00:00:20] Ray: So, why don’t you just first tell us about your background and what brought you to Haas?
[00:00:25] Ana: Sure. So, most of my background is in tech. Actually, have an undergrad in marketing from the University of Arizona and I graduated and went to this company called Law Logix and it’s legal immigration case management software. And it’s about as interesting as it sounds but I started as a sales associate there.
[00:00:47] So I worked mostly with law firms, nonprofits, and large corporations that did internal immigration services. Enjoyed it, learned a lot about sales, a lot about marketing, small company, and eventually moved to the Bay area. A lot of our clients were here. I wanted to move out of Arizona so started there but just realized that I really didn’t want to stay in legal, you know, it wasn’t something I was too passionate about. Wanted to switch back into marketing.
[00:01:12] So I moved to PR Newswire which is a provider of different PR marketing and earned media tools, also in a sales capacity. So, I started off as a new business development director there. Um, and I was basically bringing on onboard accounts in the Bay area. So, it was cool cause it was a lot of face to face interaction, something that I miss now, especially. Work there worked mostly with like communications and PR and marketing teams. So, got to do a lot of cool projects but just quickly realized that for like my career progression, it was kind of either go into sales leadership or it was really hard for me to transition out.
[00:01:50] So that’s when I decided to go back to business school. Uh, so started studying for the GMAT. And around that time, I got laid off. And so, I had about a year and a half-ish before ideally starting. So, I decided to go to a startup that just because I’d been in the Bay area for so long and everyone talks about startups.
[00:02:08] And so went to a company called Image X that does image optimization and compression technology and worked with a lot of like e-commerce and media companies there to help them optimize their websites and just kind of solidified that. I still wanted to go back to school. So cool job, it was great, you know, short hours, which was great.
[00:02:27] Cause I was doing interviews and like looking at schools. So, it worked out really well. Then told them somewhere around the middle of the summer, worked with them for a couple more months, and then started at Haas last fall.
[00:02:39] Ray: Yeah. And that is a large variety of jobs. I think you cover the gamut from sales of legal services for immigrants to business development for PR firm to, uh, I think back to sales a couple of times. Would it be safe to say that you came into Haas as an Explorer, trying to find your North Star?
[00:03:03] Ana: Yeah, definitely. So, I kind of had a rough idea. Of course, I remember writing my essays and everyone said, don’t say you’re an Explorer, have a path. And then if you don’t, it doesn’t matter. Um, so I had that kind of path but I really did come in wanting to be an Explorer and like sat in on all types of company presentations. To give you an idea of how much of an Explorer I’m like, I ended up going to a McKinsey event in New York because I was like, well, I’ll take a look at consulting. So.
[00:03:31] Ray: That sounds fun.
[00:03:33] Ana: Yeah, it was fully paid. So that was a big part of me going.
[00:03:36] Ray: Nice. Yeah. And I think we actually met at an IBD conference the first time but I remember seeing you at that as well as some of the tracks, including one which I actually want to ask you about, is Clorox.
[00:03:51] We were there on behalf of the Haas marketing club. And I believe now you are actually the co-president of the marketing club. So, I want to kind of transition and ask you about your involvement with student leadership here at Haas and with HMC.
[00:04:09] Ana: Yeah. Like you said, like, I was kind of looking for my north star, but I had an idea that I wanted to get into marketing. So, although I was looking at other things, I was focusing a lot on marketing. And as I started meeting with CMG, I met with Doug Massa and Wendy Pratt, and they both kind of asked me what, you know, are you interested in brand management and CPG?
[00:04:27] And for me it was like, I have no idea what that is so I started exploring that. And that’s why I went to that Clorox Trek last year. Really liked it. And you know, just a couple months in, I figured I did want to do something else in marketing.
[00:04:41] I wasn’t sure exactly what yet. And that’s why I joined the marketing club and then started looking at the opportunity, started going to a lot of the cool company events that they did. And was like, you know what, I think because I want to focus in on marketing and my background isn’t necessarily traditional marketing, I think it’d be good to be co-president so that I’m leading a lot of these initiatives and talking to a lot of people and helping people to decide what kind of careers they want to do. So, yeah, Chris Chung and I ran for co-presidents of the marketing club and we’ve been running the clubs since January of this year.
[00:05:15] Ray: Right. Like this academic year, we’ve gotten only maybe two months of normalcy and then the rest of the shelter in place.
[00:05:24] Ana: We got one happy hour in person as well.
[00:05:28] Ray: Right. That’s right. So, I want to ask you about the club specifically. Can you tell us what the purpose of HMC is and what students, uh, at least prior to shelter in place got together for?
[00:05:42] Ana: Yeah. So HMC is meant for any students who are interested in marketing or exploring marketing as a career. And that is not just in CPG or tech but it’s in a broad range. Obviously, we focus a little more on CPG and on tech marketing but we are also looking at, you know, like luxury marketing and we try to bring in speakers that work in different facets, you know, like earned media.
[00:06:07] We also have a lot of different company events the company sponsors that we put together that helps students that even if they’re not interested in marketing, to just, I kind of understand marketing a little more. And also like workshops that will help them professionally.
[00:06:21] So like a perfect example of one is Danone does one and we’ll be doing it again this year. That’s called Storytelling Through Data. I mean, it’s a little more positioned towards brand managers when they have certain reports and data, how to tell that story to their manager, but really, it can be taken for any profession where you have data and you have to tell your manager a story.
[00:06:43] So a lot of the stuff that the marketing club does, we try to do a blend of things that we think will be helpful for most students. And then all, a lot of events that are just specific to those who are interested in marketing.
[00:06:55] Ray: Right. One thing I want to go back on that you mentioned earlier is that there’s kind of a wide variety of jobs within marketing, right? And I think traditional marketing is, you know, maybe one thing, for example, I’m thinking of the series Mad Men or you have Don Draper, you know, that’s kind of your advertising for traditional marketing.
[00:07:17] And now in this 21st century, we live in with lots of data available, you have maybe like marketing analytics jobs where you have to kind of translate, uh, what you’re seeing, you know, especially tech companies with data on digital users, for example, translate those into insights.
[00:07:36] Are most companies that come to Haas to recruit looking to fill those jobs that are maybe more data-oriented than traditional marketing oriented?
[00:07:46] Ana: Yeah, that’s a great question. I feel like from my experience, from what I’ve seen, companies more and more moving towards data analytics involved in marketing, right? Like marketing was, I feel a couple of years ago kind of seen like the Don Draper, like, Oh, they all just sit around and ideas around. Right?
[00:08:04] And I think that’s a part of marketing. But the more our rules I look at in the more, you know, I spoke with a lot of my classmates who did PMM, product marketing manager roles in tech. A lot of them, it was pretty data analytic heavy. For me, uh, in brand management, there was definitely a portion of data analytics and it’s like, I think it becomes a more and more important skill.
[00:08:30] And I always tell people not to scare them away. Because you’re not going to be the data scientist on the team, right? Like, that is a completely different skill set that companies are looking for in most cases. But he does have someone that does that but the ability to interpret data is getting more important.
[00:08:45] So like when that data scientist does give you some results on a study, a survey, whatever you have to be able to interpret them and make business decisions on them.
[00:08:54] Ray: Right. And then maybe they speak their language a little bit and have a higher-level understanding of what does the standard deviation mean, right? Like how, what I want to ask next is tell us about some of the events for HMC.
[00:09:10] Ana: Yeah. So, we actually have for upcoming events this semester that we are doing with different companies. The first one is with Premier Nutrition and they are the makers of the power bar. They’re an Emeryville based company and they’re going to do a brand management 101.
[00:09:26] Ana: So, Premiere Nutrition will be here on September 23rd. The next event that we’re planning on doing, and these are a little more tentative on dates in early October, we will be doing that Storytelling Through Data that I mentioned with DaNone. It’s slated for early October.
[00:09:42] And as soon as we have the dates, we’ll send it out. Also towards the end of October after career week, we’ll be doing a PNL statement, reading type of workshop with Dryers ice cream, formerly a Nestle company. For those first years. We’ll be looking at CPG internship opportunities.
[00:10:00] We’re actually going to have a casing workshop that we’re going to run internally where we, you know, help all the first years with the team. It’s a casing question that CPG tends to do. So, that is slated for about the first week of November. And then in the following two weeks, we will actually have a company, The Wine Group.
[00:10:19] They’re going to come to do a case-in workshop as well. So, they’re going to further help students that are looking with like the types of questions they ask and what they look for in answers. So those are the ones that we absolutely have on the calendar. And we’re just, we’re talking to the companies already and we’re just solidifying dates.
[00:10:36] We will probably be doing an internal casing for second years that are looking for full-time roles, just because the cycle’s a little bit earlier. And yeah, and then for career week, we have a full set of activities on that Wednesday, which I believe is October 21st. We’re going to have a couple of panels in that right now.
[00:10:55] What we’re planning is brand management, product marketing manager, and tech, and then all other types of marketing. We’re talking to someone who works for like a high-end fashion brand in marketing, works as a designer. So, kind of get a little more information on roles that are outside of like your more traditional, like tech-focused and brand management focused
[00:11:18] And then for tracks, we’re figuring that out. Cause obviously we can’t go in person and most of these offices are closed. So, we’re trying to figure out if we do something like just chatting with alumni that work at these companies. And obviously, as soon as we can meet in person, we do want to do more of like happy hours.
[00:11:34] We’ve done a couple of Zoom happy hours but most people tend to zoom out. So I think,
[00:11:41] Ray: Yeah, we’re month six now or actually one seven, soon to be one seven, into this shelter in place. So, I would say there’s a finite amount of Zoom meetings or capacity that one has per week or per day even. Cool. Yeah. I mean, I think the tracks, I would agree that those are very valuable in terms of just, you know, getting insight into a company’s operations.
[00:12:08] Like, you know, what is the environment, understanding the employees. I think it’s invaluable in terms of the amount of information that you can gather from like a company’s culture to its day to day operations. And that’s actually where you and I met at Clorox as well last year.
[00:12:26] And I know you actually went there and did an internship as a brand manager at Clorox. Tell us about your time there and what you learned.
[00:12:36] Ana: I did a brand management internship at Clorox this summer and I was actually on the cleaning wipes team. So, I can imagine a lot of stuff going on with COVID. Uh, yeah, so it was really interesting. It’s a great culture. I think, going back to what you said, I remember going there and, you know, it just seemed very relaxed.
[00:12:56] Everyone was very helpful, a lot of Haas alum. It feels a lot like the Haas community as well, their corporate culture. I worked with a team of, I think the total brand team for the wipes was about six of us. Three of us were Haasies. The way that Clorox sets it up, which I think really helps set you up for success is you get assigned a mentor from day one.
[00:13:19] And they’re kind of your go-to day to day person. So especially that first couple of weeks where I was sitting in on meetings and had no idea what was going on or what acronym they were using that week. You just have someone to help cause I was sitting in on a lot of meetings but I also had like my own projects that I was working on throughout the summer.
[00:13:38] I enjoyed it more than other roles where it’s like, yeah, Oh, you do a week of onboarding and training and sometimes stuff isn’t really relevant. So, I liked that style of the program especially being remote. Thought it was going to be way worse and it felt more normal than I thought.
[00:13:55] Ray: I’ve heard you kind of emphasize the mentor-led aspect of it. So, it sounds like having someone there. Especially someone that’s a Haas alum but even just having a mentor in general as an intern is huge because a lot of times, there’s a whole bunch of acronyms.
[00:14:12] And so it’s almost a foreign language at first. And so, it’s nice to have someone. To give you that kind of one on one attention and feedback to kind of help you grow into the role.
[00:14:24] Okay. I want to take a step back and ask you, how did you become interested in brand management?
[00:14:33] Ana: Yeah. So, I became interested in brand management, honestly, through company and event exploration. Like I mentioned earlier, I really didn’t know what brand management was, and speaking to people at CMG that’s when I started to explore it. So, I had spoken to a couple of people and it was like, the cliche is, Oh, well, if you’re a brand manager, you’re like the CEO of your own product, right?
[00:14:55] So, I want to explore that more. So, I talked to a bunch of alum. Wendy Pratt helped connect me with people, so to Doug. And so, I just started asking people, you know, like, I want to understand what your day to day is like, what are the tasks that typically a brand manager deals with? And the more I heard about it, it just seemed way more diverse.
[00:15:13] Other of a role than what I was finding in tech marketing roles. So, I just kind of started looking at that and then, you know, we did that Clorox, attract to get a little more information. And then when I started seeing how the deadlines were working for internship interviews, it worked out really well because CPG was first.
[00:15:35] So I already thought I wanted to go CPG heavy anyway and I figured, all right, I’ll focus on this and worst-case scenario, if it doesn’t work out, I can still recruit for tech with plenty of time. So that’s pretty much I think it was just a lot of exploration into an industry and a role that I had no idea existed and just talking to people and, you know, it’s easy enough to like look up people on LinkedIn and ask for a coffee chat, most Haas, really nice and, you know, respond to that. So, it was just easy and it just seemed like the right role for me, especially with like the skills that I felt strong with coming into business school.
[00:16:10] It seemed like they transferred. One was kind of the parts I liked about sales and eliminated the actual sales number.
[00:16:18] Ray: Right. I mean, you’re living up to your self-proclaimed like Explorer status coming into Haas, right? Like a lot of us. So, alright.
[00:16:28] I want to ask you about, cause you mentioned the Clorox team, is there like an interesting insight or two that you can lend us about like wet wipes and how it relates to COVID and what you learned in the last three months over the summer?
[00:16:41] Ana: Yeah, I learned a lot about what, you know, what it means to clean honestly. So types, what they do is, obviously, they clean, but what does that mean? If you pick up a bucket of wipes anywhere, they have all these planes on them, right? Like kills germs, kills viruses, kills bacteria, all those are different.
[00:17:03] We called kill claims and they’re all regulated by the EPA. So, for example, for a wipe to say kills 99.9% of viruses, that has to be approved by the EPA. So that was an interesting thing when I was working on a couple of my projects because not all wipes kill viruses. And so that is super important during COVID, right, since COVID is a virus. So, if something says, for example, sanitizes and not disinfects, that does not kill COVID.
[00:17:31] Ray: Uh, okay.
[00:17:34] Ray: Yeah. Yeah. That’s super interesting. So, and these claims probably have to be scientifically tested, right? They haven’t just run through trials and be approved by I think you said the EPA. So, what we want on our wet wives is to say disinfects, not sanitizes.
[00:17:52] Ana: Yeah, on cleaning wipes. You want them to say disinfects and also wet wipes are completely different. Those are like the handles that you
[00:18:00] Ray: Oh, okay. Yeah.
[00:18:02] Ana: I believe those only sanitized cause you use them on your hands. Those are sure.
[00:18:07] Ray: Wow. Okay. I didn’t even know that. That’s really fascinating because I think I actually buy cleaning wipes because they’re bigger versus wet wipes.
[00:18:15] Ana: Check those because I think usually for things to be antibacterial, that’s like safe on skin and hands. So, those are like the wet wipes that are for hands. And then if it’s wet wipes that are for surfaces, then they should say that they disinfect.
[00:18:30] Ray: Got it. Got it.
[00:18:32] Ana: Yeah, definitely went down the rabbit hole on that and did a lot of research, the cleaning materials and, you know, it was funny cause I would go to a Safeway and the first thing I’d go do with like check the cleaning aisle and like, and that was something I’d never even considered before.
[00:18:48] Ray: Right, right. No, I think once you get some more industry insight, Uh, no matter what kind of, what industry it is, you start kind of paying attention to all these things that you didn’t consider before. Like all these, what used to be blind spots. Now you just like, suddenly like come to light. Um,
[00:19:06] I want to now ask you, you know, you’re in your second year of the full-time program. What electives are you taking and what are your future plans?
[00:19:17] Ana: So, this semester, I figured I’d go marketing heavy now that we don’t have any of the classes we have to take. So, I’m actually taking marketing research, marketing strategy, corporate launchpad, which is kind of like corporate innovation. I’m in power in politics right now. And then I switched over to designing financial models at work in fall beach.
[00:19:40] Ray: So, it sounds very marketing heavy. It seems like this is kind of definitely you found your niche or your area of focus.
[00:19:49] Ana: Yeah, I think so.
[00:19:51] Ray: And looking back on your previous classes that you’ve had in your year, plus, what are some favorite or some recommendations that you have for those choosing electives?
[00:20:03] Ana: I would definitely recommend strategic brand management with Bill Pearce if you have any interest in CPG or even marketing. He made it such an interesting class and I felt he is one of the professors I’ve had that has the most experience in what he’s talking about.
[00:20:19] So like when he would talk about a certain concept in the class, he could say, you know, when I was COO of Taco Bell, this is how it came in. So, I felt like it really solidified a lot of what we were talking about and it helped make sense, right? It’s not like some topic that’s obscure and you just case on it.
[00:20:38] It’s like, okay, this is how actual real-world people in marketing have done this before. So, I would definitely recommend, yeah, IBD was great but we, unfortunately, didn’t get to travel. So, if you travel, I definitely recommend it.
[00:20:55] Ray: No. And that’s, you know, that’s funny because back to the first class with strategic brand management, I think Haas in general does a good job of giving applications to illustrate examples of theoretical concepts that are in play in the real world. So cool.
[00:21:16] Ray: Alright. Let’s do the lightning round.
[00:21:19] So, we talked pre-show and you mentioned that you’re from Mexico. So, I wanted to ask you, what’s the thing that you miss most?
[00:21:27] Ana: The food, the food.
[00:21:30] Ray: And can you please tell people that, you know, like Mexican food, like street food, tacos, they don’t have cheese?
[00:21:37] Ana: Do not have cheese. The tortilla is not a hard tortilla either. And there’s no sour cream, that’s more of X thing.
[00:21:47] Ray: Yeah. All those are Americanized. Exactly. TexMex. Yeah. Cool. Do you have a book or podcast recommendation for our listeners?
[00:21:56] Ana: So, I actually just started a series of podcasts and I’ve been jumping around, it’s CMO talks, I believe. Let me double-check the name, but it’s basically, it’s the prior SVP of, I believe one of the large CPGs and he just interviews the CMOs of different companies. The CMO podcast is what it’s called actually.
[00:22:18] With Jim Stengel, who was the COO of Proctor and Gamble. He interviews people from all types of different industries and, you know, they’re pretty short. I’ve been listening to them that recently. And I think it’s just really interesting.
[00:22:30] And especially if I see a company that I like. I’ve been just trying to download those and listen to those.
[00:22:36] Ray: Yeah. And then obviously I have to ask you this, having worked at Clorox and kind of seeing the full game of cleaning products, which one is your favorite and you don’t even have to pick a Clorox brand.
[00:22:48] Ana: I think I’m biased but I still think that cleaning wipes are my favorite. They’re convenient. They are just easy to use. They do the job and they are supposed to all be compostable by 2025. So, stay inability your front. They will be way more sustainable moving forward.
[00:23:08] Ray: Yeah. And then the next question. What’s your favorite defining leadership principle?
[00:23:14] Ana: I have to say question the status quo. Given my personality, I tend to question a lot of things. You can probably ask people. I think that one is the one that always has resonated more with me. And I do feel like at Haas is like a very, it is very accepted and I feel like I tend to do better in situations where that, where you can question the status quo.
[00:23:39] Ray: And have some more open-minded thinking.
[00:23:42] Okay. What is one thing you’re looking forward to the most post shelter in place?
[00:23:49] Ana: Traveling again. I have, you know, a couple of trips that were put on hold, so I think being able to travel again and I’ll travel with way more appreciation than I used to anyway. Um, so, you know, it’s kind of the good with the bad. This situation is, it is what it is, but it’ll make us be more appreciative of everything else that we can do later on.
[00:24:12] Ray: Right. For sure. More, uh, gratitude, I think. Okay. And then last, I want to wrap this interview with a question for listeners who may be either applying or prospective students, which is, you know, what advice do you have for students who are applying to the MBA after your kind of first-year through the program?
[00:24:34] Ana: I would say for the application itself, you know, have your story ready, what you want to do, but don’t tie yourself to that story. Like, when you come into Haas, be willing to see other things. Cause I think everyone has seen industries they never heard of, rules they had never heard of, so I think it’s come in with an open mind and also come in knowing that we all can come in with different strengths.
[00:24:58] Right? Like we all have different strengths and we all work together and that’s one big thing with Haas. We’re big on teamwork. So, as you’re applying as I would say, you know, think of what your strong suits are. Think of what you want to work on but don’t worry too much about what you need to work on cause you will have classmates who can help you with all of that.
[00:25:19]Ray: Right. So it sounds like be open-minded and be vulnerable and be true to yourself. So you can kind of find that North star, um, they’ll point you in the right direction. Very nice. Okay. Well, is there anything else that you want me to ask you that I haven’t yet?
[00:25:34] Ana: Yeah. I mean, the only thing that I think that would be an interesting thing with Clorox is like one of the coolest themes that we had or whatever was that Chromeo released a song called Clorox Wipe on your own completely. Yeah, I recommend it. So, they actually released a whole album about quarantine while in quarantine. And one of them is Clorox Wipe and it’s like, it’s actually a pretty good song. So that was a fun project to work on while I was there because it was like, we got this wrong. It’s like, what do we do with it?
[00:26:04] You know? Cause they did it on their own. So, it’s like free marketing but that was fun, like, COVID-relevant project that, you know, it was interesting to talk about for like a week at work.
[00:26:16] Ray: Yeah. And we’ll link this song on the show notes to like a YouTube video.
[00:26:21] Ana: It’s so funny. I think my last week there was our sales and marketing conference and they actually played, I mean via Zoom but they played the song for us. So it was, it was fun to do get a performance.
[00:26:33] Ray: Right. Oh, for sure. I mean, it’s, I think especially these days, right? It’s like the kind of like the little moments that count. We may not all be in person, but you know, enjoying a video or sometimes, you know, we’ve seen people enjoy like movies right over Zoom.
[00:26:47] Ana: Yeah.
[00:26:48] Ray: Cool. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today Ana.
[00:26:51] Ana: No. Thank you for having me. This was great.
[00:26:55] Ray: Thanks for tuning in to another episode of here@haas. If you enjoyed the show, please tell a friend and fellow Haasie, and don’t forget to leave us a rating and review for more Haas podcasts. Check out our interviews with alumni on OneHaas and the OneHaas undergraduate podcast. I’m Ray Guan, and we’ll see you next time here at Haas.