Chris Robson, class of 2016 MSMR Graduate, discusses his experiences with the program and how it got him to where he is today.
Why PLU’s MSMR Program?
The PLU MSMR program far exceeded my expectations and gave me the skills I needed to grow both personally and professionally. In my professional life, the program gave me much more than the knowledge of market research and the tools used in the industry – the program gave me the ability to think critically, formulate strategic conclusions, and develop effective methodology. My career exposes me to organizations across the country, and in almost every situation, clients are amazed at my abilities and thought processes to reach conclusions. I am a very strong proponent of the MSMR program and the faculty at Pacific Lutheran University. Personally, the program enriched my ability to think more critically, communicate more clearly, and better embrace other’s points of view. The faculty at the University has kept in contact with me after graduation, and has always been available to support me in whatever way they are able to. I am extremely pleased with my experiences in the MSMR program.
What was your favorite project you completed while in the MSMR program?
As part of the MSMR program, I was able to help many causes and companies, both locally and beyond the Pacific Northwest. In reflecting on all of these programs and campaigns, the one that required my diverse skill set was probably my ‘favorite’. The project was helping a company that is internationally recognized launch a new product line. They wanted to gauge the market response, the impact on the brand, as well as the demand for a product line that was drastically different from what they were currently offering. The project that had the biggest intrinsic value, was helping a local school district craft a message to pass bond measure. I would like to think that our team played a major role in the successful passage of the bond measure, and that feels good.
``The program gave me the ability to think critically, formulate strategic conclusions, and develop effective methodology.``
What are you doing now?
Currently I am a project manager at Market Insights. We are a Chicago/Seattle based consulting firm that specializes in working directly with banks and credit unions across the country. Not only do I get to play with all sorts of data to generate strategy for the growth of banks and credit unions, but I am also client facing, so I work directly with clients all over the world. There is a lot of travel and long hours at times, but I truly enjoy what I do. Beyond all the various analyses and understanding of the large amount of data, the MSMR program gave me the priceless skill of being able to communicate directly with the client in a logical, coherent manner. I work with people who specialize in their organization’s data – the MSMR program set me above everyone else as I am able to speak with them ‘on their level’. Further, the rich understanding of Market Research I gained in the MSMR program has given me the skill of simplifying the data for the bank’s President, CEO, chairman of the board, and anyone who just needs to know ‘what the data mean’.
In my role, I play a major part in formulating the bank or credit union’s strategy. We primarily work with institutions that are valued anywhere from $300 million to around $2.5 billion in assets. The MSMR program has given me the confidence to clearly craft recommendations that are used to develop the organization’s future. While there is a lot of pressure, the rewards are limitless.
What advice do you have for current MSMR Candidates?
In hindsight, my advice would be to start looking for employment early, utilize the University and School of Business as they are a great resource, and choose your path wisely. The School of Business is made up of amazing people who all want you to succeed after graduation. Further, almost every faculty member has a broad network within the community and likely beyond – use them! They can help you get your foot in the door somewhere, learn more about potential industries – or whatever you may need to succeed. This doesn’t mean that you should not take responsibility on your own, but the University is a great resource that should be used.
When I said choose your path wisely, I mean to pick the projects that utilize the broadest skill sets and are relatable to potential employers. Do not necessarily take the easiest route when it comes to choosing projects. Rather, choose projects that offer the greatest challenge, provide the most exposure to the real world, and are relevant to the broadest segment of the community.