At AMA Madison we value our members, so we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share some background on one of our long-time members, Kristen Uttech, who was named the Madison Chapter’s AMA Marketer of the Year as a result of her national consumer co-branded campaign with NASCAR and Craftsman while working at Penda Corporation.
Kristin has spent over 20 years in leadership positions in corporate marketing. She spent a large part of her career at Penda Corporation as their Director of Marketing Communications. After that, she was the Director of Vertical Marketing for Sonic Foundry. Kristen is now a Marketing Professor at Madison College, where she has been instrumental in launching both the Social Media Certificate and Mobile Marketing Certificate.
Kristin has spoken to key marketing organizations such as the AMA, PRSA, MMA and the Social Media Breakfast, and she is a consultant in strategic marketing for small to media size businesses. In terms of education, Kristin has extensive studies in the marketing field, including a BA from UW-Eau Claire and an MBA from Marquette University, and two mini-MBAs from Rutgers University in Mobile Marketing and Digital Marketing; she is currently working towards a doctorate in Organizational Leadership.
When you started studying marketing, why did you choose this field as a career?
In high school, I worked in advertising for our school newspaper I loved it and I knew I wanted to do something that combined writing, planning, and creativity. That’s how I found marketing. When I am talking to my students about career choices in business, I always ask them what classes they loved in high school, what they are good at, and what their dream job would be. When I look back, answering those questions is really how I found marketing.
Having worked and studied many areas of marketing, which ones do you enjoy most?
I love emerging technologies in marketing especially social media and mobile marketing. This area is developing and changing so fast and digital really is where the future lies.. I also really enjoy innovation and creativity because it’s so important in business today. So many businesses get trapped in process behavior and lose their sense of innovation.
If you look back in your career as a Marketing professional, what would you say are the main changes you have observed in the field?
Technology is a big change we continue to see evolve. When I look back to when I started in marketing, it’s a completely different landscape. I think many of the fundamentals have remained true over time, but certainly, digital technology has completely changed the marketing game.
I also think the consumer is always evolving. The way consumers shop, buy and get information is quite different than 15 years ago. Marketers need to change their game to be where the consumer is looking for product information. This can be challenging but it also has helped us micro-target our products to our target markets.
When did you started teaching marketing, and what are the things you most enjoy of being a professor?
One of the biggest things I like is helping students find their career path. I am so lucky to be able to counsel students every day and help them define what job/s may be right for them. I also love our diversity at Madison College. I get to work with such a broad range of students and it’s always exciting. I often get notes from students about how I changed their pathway, and it’s so rewarding. I recently had two students who went from an Associate’s Degree in Marketing from Madison College to a Bachelors Degree to a Master’s Degree. It’s a really exciting process to watch.
I also enjoy being in the classroom. I think a key thing we offer at Madison College is faculty with real-world experience. We can share things we have learned in our career first hand which can really help enrich student’s learning experience. In marketing, it’s tough to learn everything out of a textbook.
Why did you started to work as a marketing consultant and what would you say are the biggest challenges of it?
One of the biggest reasons I started doing consulting is to keep that real-world connection outside of the classroom. Our job as college professors is to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in marketing and consulting really helps me bridge that connection to the business world.
I read that before working at Madison College, you worked at Sonic Foundry, Penda Corporation, and Associated Bank. What are some key takeaways from these experiences as a Marketing professional?
I think Penda Corporation really had a dramatic impact on my career. I was able to really grow as a marketer in my time there by working on national consumer advertising and promotional campaigns with big brands like Craftsman and NASCAR. I had a lot of autonomy to drive success at Penda which also comes with a lot of responsibility. One of my biggest takeaways from Penda was learning how critical strategic planning is in the marketing process. I also learned to hire great people and delegate to them. Good leaders can’t do everything by themselves. They need a strong team who can drive the team goals and handle responsibility.
Comparing working at private companies and academic institutions, what are for you the main differences?
I think private organizations tend to be a little more nimble than a large academic institution. They can react faster to market changes. With that said, many of our faculty bring that background to Madison College so we tend to drive change pretty quickly here.
You have a number of certifications and have won awards during your career. What are the key factors that keep you motivated?
I think the key factor for me is being able to be the best at what I am doing. At Madison College, I really owe it to my students to know as much as I can about the industry and trends. I will always consider myself a lifelong learner. I was so excited to go to my immersion courses at Rutgers and Harvard to learn from other professionals from around the world. I think networking and continued education is vital to career success. I’ve often told my staff in the past that if you don’t like change you will really hate irrelevance. My family has also kept me motivated. Being a working mom can be really challenging, but I have always wanted to be a role model for my daughters and show them that women can be successful in business.
When did you become an AMA member?
I have been a member since early in my career – maybe 20 years!
Why have you been a member so long?
I think AMA provides a great opportunity to network with other leaders in marketing. I’ve also attended several educational sessions that have been really helpful to help me stay up-to-date in the field. Now I get really excited to see my former students joining such a great organization.
Why would you recommend marketers join AMA? What value have you gained from the organization?
Yes! It’s been a great organization and I really feel it’s been tied closely to my career as I’ve advanced over the years. It’s a great place to meet people and learn about the industry.
As a Marketing professional with lots of experience, what would you advice to marketing students or to anyone that is just starting in this field?
You have to start somewhere and be willing to work really hard. Do as much as you can even in an entry level position to get experience even if it means working more hours. This will help you to take the next step into your dream job.