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Indiana University Bloomington

Center for Brand Leadership

Kelley Advantage

The Center for Brand Leadership is a close-knit group of top MBA students, faculty, alumni, and corporate partners who share a wealth of industry knowledge and contacts.

The Importance of Feedback

John Pawlowski MBA'11

John Pawlowski

“Before I came here, I thought it was all about academics. But that’s only a part of what makes Kelley special.”

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After John Pawlowski graduated from Brigham Young University, he took a low-paying but demanding job to launch a consumer magazine in the Salt Lake area. He was in charge of everything from hiring and firing to market research and sales.

But with a family and higher goals on his mind, he decided to seek other opportunities. He saw an online posting for a brand manager position at ConAgra, sent in his resume, and received a call.

On the other end was a Kelley alumnus who wanted to know where Pawlowski received his MBA. When Pawlowski explained he only had an undergraduate degree, the alum told him all about Kelley and its Consumer Marketing Academy, and encouraged him to pursue an MBA. Pawlowski was sold. He applied, was accepted, and moved his family to Bloomington.

Pawlowski sums up his time at the Consumer Marketing Academy with one word: feedback. He’s received feedback from classmates, career coaches, and professors. But he’s also learned how to give feedback in a supportive way.

“I understand now the importance of feedback and how to use it to perform more effectively, as an individual and as a team,” he says.

The time he spent polishing his interview and communication skills with CMA directors Jonlee Andrews and Ray Luther was important to his development. Faculty members also taught him how to receive feedback and give criticism in a constructive way when working with colleagues. Those skills will help at his new job at ConAgra Foods, the company that put Pawlowski in touch with the CMA in the first place.

ConAgra offered Pawlowski an internship after his first year in the MBA program. Over the summer, he worked with his brand team to find ways to increase shelf space for Marie Callender’s meals. By keeping in touch with his supervisors, Pawlowski learned that the company is putting his recommendations to work.

“I loved seeing that they took my project seriously,” he says. “I saw that they sent out my recommendation to select teams throughout the company. It was an internal suggestion, and I know from talking to people that it had a strong effect.”

ConAgra offered him a full-time job starting this summer and with his MBA, he’s ready now.

“They’re looking for new creativity. They want people to come in and contribute new ideas and then have the passion to take ownership over them,” he says.

Pawlowski came to IU with a checklist of what he wanted from his Kelley experience—until he realized the opportunities exceeded his expectations.

“Before I came here, I thought it was all about academics,” he says. “But that’s only a part of what makes Kelley special.”

Not only does Kelley have a top consumer marketing program, it focuses on professional development, recruiting, the language and culture of marketing today, and peer relationships.

“I learned how all of these aspects interact and how to balance family, work, and life,” he says. “I also learned how to be open to feedback that will make me more valuable as an employee.”

Published April 11, 2011