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Agrimarketing : March 2009
Sales and Marketing Insights from Purdue University HAVEYOURJOBANDEDUCATION,TOO G byMegan Sheridan oing back to school to earn an advanced degree isn’t an option formany agri-marketers today. Especially since the demands of most traditional programs don’t lend themselves toworking a full-time job, traveling extensively or having to unexpectedly stay late at the office. Taking a traditional route defi- nitelywasn’t an option for Bryan Mergen. “I had been thinking about get- ting amaster’s degree for a long time,” saysMergen, the SeniorMan- ager of Pfizer AnimalHealth’sdairy segment. “But, itwasn’t practical for me to take a break fromthe progress Iwasmaking inmy job at the time. Plus,withmy travel schedule, the programs offered at the local colleges weren’t going towork forme.” DISTANCELEARNING One ofMergen’s colleagues sug- gested that he look into a distance- delivered programoffered in part- nership fromPurdue University and Indiana University (IU). Being a graduate of the program, he knewit offeredMergen the flexibility he needed,while still providing a high- quality education. Mergen soon contacted Luanna DeMay, the programmanager at Purdue, and learned that, in 27 months, he could earn amaster’s Upcoming Agribusiness SEMINARS SalesManagement and Leadership May 28-29, 2009 Precision Selling June 11-12, 2009 Learn more at www.agecon.purdue.edu/cab Center for Food and Agricultural Business degree in agricultural economics fromPurdue and amaster’s in busi- ness administration (MBA) fromIU’s nationally ranked Kelley School of Business. Most of his courseworkwould be delivered online or through other electronicmedia, allowing himto studywherever his job took him. The only time hewould be in an actual classroomwould be during the five one-week residencies,which in- cluded an international experience. Comparedwith otherMBApro- grams, theMS-MBAin Food and AgribusinessManagementwas competitively priced, aswell. “The programgaveme the best of bothworlds—keepingmy cur- rent job and building the skills I would need tomove up in the com- pany,” saysMergen,who graduated fromtheMS-MBAprogramin 2008. TEAMWORK HELPFUL While the opportunity towork anytime or anywhere appealed to Mergen, hewas also intrigued by the chance to go through the program with a small cohort of peoplewho were similar to him. They had been workingwithin the food and agricul- ture industry for three years ormore, and theywere driven to expand their skill sets, allowing themto progress to the next level in their careers. “Being in a small group of people was one of the big selling points for me,”Mergen says. “Itwas nice to knowthat I had a teamto support me.” Calling, e-mailing and instant messagingwith his classmates, along with DeMay’s customer service, helpedMergen succeed as a student. DeMay eased his apprehension about going back to school and answered questions he had about howto best interactwith specific professors. For each on-campus resi- dency,he also knewthat shewould provide all of the information he would need before and during the trip, so he could focus on classwork. “The one-on-one personalized attentionwas above and beyond what I anticipated,”Mergen says. “It was good to have a personal contact within the huge university system, and itmade it easier for peoplewho are trying to balancework and school.” Alongwith two degrees,Mergen gained lifelong friends and net- workedwith future business col- leagues during the program.He’s nowone of themore than 150 food and agribusiness professionalswho have completed the programsince 1999. LASTS A LIFETIME Every fewweeks,Mergen looks down at his phone and sees ames- sage fromDeMay,updating himon news fromother graduates or net- working opportunities. The program may only be 27months, butMergen nowknows that the relationships formed can last a lifetime. By taking a non-traditional approach to education, anMS-MBA in Food andAgribusinessManage- ment allows agri-marketers to serve the industry they’re passionate about,while simultaneously prepar- ing to take the next step in their careers. Formore information about the program, visit www.agecon.purdue. edu/agribusiness or call DeMay at 765/494-4270. AM Megan Sheridan is theMarketing Manager at Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business. March 2009 s AgriMarketing 19