Kellogg World Alumni Magazine, Spring 2004Kellogg School of Management
In DepthIn BriefDepartmentsClass NotesClub NewsArchivesContactKellogg Homepage
Global Kellogg: Learn from your peers
The 'Global Kellogg' strategy
Here, there and everywhere
A world of ideas
At home in the global village
Doing business in other cultures
Theory: Scott Stern
Practice: James Conley
Nothing lost in translation
What I did last summer
Address Update
Alumni Home
Submit News
Internal Site
Northwestern University
Kellogg Search

What I did last summer
From combating a health crisis, to tailoring products for new markets, summer internships let these Kellogg School students practice their team leadership

By Kari Richardson

Forget Popsicle days and lazy afternoons whiled away by the swimming pool. When classes end for the summer, a legion of Kellogg School students lend their expertise to companies big and small, both for- and nonprofit firms, looking to test the lessons of the past academic year.

It's a proving ground for both companies and the business school students they hire: Will the students be able to synthesize what they've learned in a real-world setting? Will the companies and industries these students choose live up to expectations?

Kellogg student  
© Nathan Mandell
Marina Barreto '04

A summer internship helps MBA students confirm that a career in a particular industry is the right path for them, says Roxanne Hori, director of the Kellogg School's Career Management Center. Alternately, the internship gives students a chance to opt out of a field gracefully, before they accept a full-time offer.

"It's a chance to take a peek at a job function," Hori says. "It's also a chance to take a peek at the cultural factors that sometimes get obscured during the recruitment process."

Second-year student Tom Bolling, for example, was drawn to the energetic and friendly culture at Brunswick, a maker of boats, motors and other leisure products, during the recruiting process.

That impression stuck as Bolling completed his summer assignments on the company's corporate strategy team.

"I had an impromptu lunch with the CEO five or six times during the summer. That's unique. I don't think many summer interns at Fortune 500 companies have that kind of interaction with their CEO," Bolling says.

Brian Horigan '04, who completed an internship at Black & Decker last summer, showed up for work with a binder of notes from his Kellogg School marketing classes. Horigan says he found himself cracking open the binder repeatedly as he helped the company evaluate the feasibility of a new product introduction.

"At first I was excited to put the tools I learned at school to work, but at the same time, I was nervous," says Horigan, whose confidence soared by the end of the summer.

Carolyn Bess '04, who worked for the National Park Service in California, created a business plan for Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks that will enable administrators to track their resources. "This plan is something my park superintendent could use as he justifies funding before Congress," she says.

Companies pay a fairly hefty price to hire a Kellogg School intern, and the firms' expectations are comparably lofty, Hori says. Students are pros at delivering results fast, as they create marketing plans, help introduce new products, put together deals, and perform dozens of other duties that prepare them for their post-graduation jobs.

Here's a closer look at how three Kellogg School students spent last summer.

Marina Barreto --- Taking Looney Tunes around the world
Marina Barreto '04 arrived at the Kellogg School in August 2002 with a rudimentary knowledge of the media industry and high hopes of entering the field after graduation.

"I had a very limited media background. I knew little more than the basic things that every consumer knows," Barreto recalls of her first days at Kellogg.

But from media-related clubs, to guest speakers with an entertainment bent, to courses in media strategy and marketing, if it had anything to do with her key interest, Barreto found a way to include it in her Kellogg School experience. The former marketing strategy consultant planned to use her MBA as a catalyst for a new career in media and entertainment.

"I did everything media related," she recalls. "I even helped lead a 'Media Trek' to Los Angeles where (students) met with key figures in the media and entertainment industry."

It's not surprising then that the Brazilian-born student spent last summer working in the international division of Warner Home Video, where she helped tailor everything from Looney Tunes cartoons to the television show "Friends" for an international audience.

"I was a bridge between the domestic markets and Warner Home Video's affiliates around the world," she says. "I helped adapt the marketing strategy to different local markets and to share best practices around the world. But sometimes when a product was released overseas first, our division would have to create the marketing strategy from scratch. It was a very busy workplace, and I was treated essentially as a junior brand manager."

Whether the product in question was a "Powerpuff Girls" cartoon or the latest installment of "The Matrix" franchise, Barreto learned how to assess its popularity abroad, analyzing whether it could be sold profitably in other countries, and if so, what changes were necessary to make the product a success.

Her pet project for the summer was a collection of Looney Tunes cartoons on DVD marketed in the United States mostly to adult collectors. But it turns out that adults in other countries are not avid cartoon collectors.

Using this insight, Barreto instead helped position the collection internationally as a family title, changing everything from the packaging to the extras included on the DVD (swapping a documentary for kid-friendly games). Marketers also split the collection into smaller pieces that each cost less.

Barreto explains, "A mother who's buying the cartoons for her child isn't going to spend a lot of money until she figures out whether the child likes them or not."

The 13-week internship passed quickly, but it was long enough for Barreto to confirm her longstanding desire to work in the field. She has accepted an offer to return to Warner Brothers after graduation, and for that, she says she is thankful to her Kellogg School experience.

"My classes taught me how the industry is structured and different ways to approach marketing," Barreto says. "And I knew how to speak the language when I was on an interview and on the job."

Kellogg student  
© Nathan Mandell
Laurent Luccioni '04

Laurent Luccioni --- Breathing new life into brownfield sites
A bit of something old, a bit of something new could well have been the theme for Laurent Luccioni's summer internship at Cherokee Investment Partners.

Luccioni '04, who worked as an environmental engineer before enrolling at the Kellogg School, found a way to combine his previous work experience with a burgeoning interest in finance when he landed a summer stint at the private equity real estate investment fund.

Cherokee Investment Partners buys brownfield properties such as former landfills and older manufacturing facilities, cleaning up the sites and giving them new life as retail developments, condominiums and more.

"It's fascinating work. A lot of times it looks as if the seller and buyer are far apart, but you find a way to take the two opposite ends and make it work," Luccioni says.

Luccioni spent four weeks at each of the company's three offices --- in Denver; Raleigh, N.C.; and London --- acquiring a feel for the world of private equity funds, as well as a global perspective on the business. The second-year student researched potential investments, structured deals, and sometimes traveled in person to sites to acquire more information.

"The first half of the internship was a lot of listening and helping," he says. "Then you start taking more and more responsibility. You gather the first information and present it to a managing director who helps you evaluate whether or not it makes sense to go further. By the second part of the internship, I was writing the investment memorandums and trying to convince the investment committee whether a decision made sense.

"I was constantly using skills I developed at Kellogg," Luccioni adds, particularly team-leadership lessons honed in Management and Organizations classes. "A lot of times the decision being made is a team consensus."

That's not to say there isn't more to be learned during Luccioni's second year. He's using his final year on campus to continue to perfect his finance and tax-planning skills, even electing to take a finance final he could have opted out of.

Luccioni, who has accepted an offer to return to the company after graduation, found a good fit in the firm, which has even managed a way to integrate charitable giving into its day-to-day operations. Deals that can't be profitably completed may be transferred to a not-for-profit arm of the company.

"The nonprofit component unites everyone. It really confirms that this is a company I want to work for," he says.

Kellogg student  
© Nathan Mandell
Kara Palamountain '04

Kara Palamountain --- Drawing on business-school skills to help African AIDS victims
Kara Palamountain '04 isn't a health-care worker per se, but just the same, the Kellogg School student spent part of last summer helping to combat the AIDS crisis in Africa.

Palamountain completed an internship in health-care corporate philanthropy at Abbott Labs, north of Chicago, creating awareness in Africa about two Abbott-made products — an antiretroviral treatment called Kaletra and a test for HIV frequently used in programs for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

"I can't stand the sight of blood," the second-year student says. "I'm a businessperson. But I can use my skills to make an impact on this crisis."

Palamountain's sister, a physician, first opened her eyes to the severity of the AIDS crisis in Africa through her work at a pediatric AIDS hospital in Botswana. Then, during a Global Initiatives in Management (GIM) trip to Africa last year, in which participants studied pharmaceutical companies' response to the AIDS crisis in South Africa, Palamountain had a chance to see for herself how the disease had ravaged the continent.

At one hospital she visited, doctors struggled to care for more than 4,000 patients, with little in the way of staff or resources.

"Until you know someone who's physically over there or are able to compare your world with that world, you don't realize how much suffering there is," says Palamountain.

So when a contact she met during the GIM trip called to offer her a summer job working on the AIDS crisis, she snapped up the opportunity.

At Abbott, Palamountain spent much of her time on the phone, making corporations aware of discounted rates for the two Abbott products. As part of its corporate philanthropy program, the pharmaceutical firm provides the products at a loss to programs throughout Africa, including sales to corporations, which are often the chief providers of health care in their areas.

"It's a generous and sustainable program," Palamountain says. "Abbott's not offering the drugs for free, but this way the company is able to continue what they're doing. It would be pointless to get someone started on a drug and then have to discontinue the program."

Results of Palamountain's summer work weren't always immediate, and navigating the cultural, political and structural barriers to success often proved frustrating. What's more, she used a brutal calculation to weigh her value to the organization during the course of her internship.

"From the outset, I put a big onus on myself to make it worthwhile," she says. "I realized the money Abbott paid me wasn't being used to directly benefit AIDS victims and I wanted to make sure I was worth the indirect investment. That's a lot of pressure."

But the payoff was big: the chance to make an impact on a health issue with enormous consequences for the entire world.

Palamountain's personal takeaways from the internship included greater knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry, a more acute awareness of international business, and a budding interest in how the political environment can help --- or hamper --- a company's ability to succeed. Returning to the Kellogg School for her second year of studies, she built on those interests with courses in crisis management, cross-cultural negotiations and nonmarkets.

She'll take those insights with her when she returns to the health-care consulting world after graduation.

"I think understanding developing countries and the way they're building their health-care systems will give me an appreciation, but at the same time, a critical eye for what we have in this country," she says.

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University