McIntire Careers in Marketing Forum: Panelist Katherine Gruneisen (McIntire ’16) of Anheuser-Busch InBev Delivers Expert Advice

In advance of the Careers in Marketing Forum, we spoke with the McIntire Young Alumni Council member and New York City resident about how the Commerce School prepared her for her position and about the importance of passing on what she’s learned to current students interested in following a similar path.

Katherine Gruneisen

Katherine Gruneisen

From advertising and analytics, to sales and brand management, marketing positions these days come in many shapes and sizes. For students aspiring to work in the field, McIntire’s Careers in Marketing Forum helps to make sense of it all by providing essential information from those who have made marketing their lives. Experienced veterans and recent McIntire graduates-turned-professionals alike will bring their expertise to Rouss & Robertson Halls for Commerce Career Services’ 2018 edition of the two-day event Sept. 27 and 28. Attendees will benefit from the panelists’ invaluable, practical advice on subjects ranging from creating value for consumers to navigating the diverse opportunities for potential employment.

One such expert, Katherine Gruneisen (McIntire ’16), Craft Expansion Manager of global brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev, will lend her industry knowledge to the Friday morning breakout session on Sales & Integrated Marketing.

The McIntire alumna, who graduated with Finance and Marketing concentrations, leads the sales strategy for AB InBev’s Goose Island Beer Co., Karbach Brewing Co., Virtue Cider, and Veza Sur Brewing brands. After taking a deep dive into the business by completing the company’s yearlong Global Management Training program, Gruneisen is now responsible for managing innovation brewing, sales contracts, category distribution, packaging format, and production logistics for the aforementioned breweries.

Originally drawn to pursue a career in marketing because of a fascination with the psychology behind consumer decision making, she says that the opportunity to work on themes of perception, identity, and aspiration makes working in marketing an ideal role for her.

In advance of the Careers in Marketing Forum, we spoke with the McIntire Young Alumni Council member and New York City resident about how the Commerce School prepared her for her position and about the importance of passing on what she’s learned to current students interested in following a similar path.

What are some of the best aspects of your job?
The high level of impact and creativity working with craft breweries is the best part of my job. Sitting down with the brewers, working with them to develop their dream for the business they want to build, and then making that vision come to life—that’s what inspires me. I am motivated to deliver my best work when I’m passionate about the content, so for me, finding that inspiration is crucial.

You have many responsibilities at Anheuser-Busch InBev. In what ways do your Finance and Marketing coursework at McIntire apply to your day-to-day work in your current position?
In many ways! Firstly, the cross-functional discipline of ICE taught me how to consider challenges in the workplace from a 360-degree view. In fact, my manager actually taught the ICE case on craft brewery expansion at McIntire last year, so you can imagine that my job’s a pretty direct translation from the coursework. Secondly, Finance gave me a great advantage in understanding the operational side of the breweries that I manage. This is key to ensure that the commercial decisions we make. For example, the choice to produce a new dry-hopped IPA [India pale ale] makes sense from a cost standpoint. Lastly, my marketing curriculum taught me to always align product design with the “north star” of insights—consumer need states. A new brand will be successful only if the market has a legitimate demand for its value.

How crucial was dedicating a substantial span of time to complete the company’s Global Management Training program for you? What did you learn, and how did that supplement or build on your McIntire knowledge?
The GMT program was one of the best experiences I could have asked for out of college. You’re thrown into a 10-month intensive rotational program in which you’re leading work streams in every critical part of the business. Whether I was crawling into the lagering tanks at the Budweiser brewery to learn about yeast propagation or building an innovation brand from ideation to shelf execution, I was experiencing different career paths firsthand. My McIntire education gave me a technical foundation upon which I was able to build and contextualize the real-life experiences of my job. After learning each part of the business from the ground up, I am able to make top-down decisions with a more comprehensive and robust perspective.

For students interested in entering the marketing field, what skills might best serve them in their future endeavors that they might not be aware of?
Becoming comfortable translating large sets of data into actionable insights is a core skill that will prepare you well for any business-related career. I’ve been glad to see McIntire put such a focus on the Business Analytics Track the past few years for this reason. Gut-based decisions don’t make the cut anymore; you need hard analytics to prove your case. Another tip I practice in my own life is to pick up literature related to human cognition. Thinking Fast and Slow and Sapiens are two fantastic books that dive into heuristics and primitive instinct. I find that the better I can understand the motivations behind human behavior, the better I can develop products that benefit their lives.

Why is it important to be a member of the McIntire Young Alumni Council and to come back to Grounds for events like the Careers in Marketing Forum?
Every career-related decision that I made as a McIntire student came as a result of an alumni interaction. Be it the internship that I chose to pursue during my third-year summer or the postgraduate opportunity I accepted with AB InBev, alumni influenced me each step of the way. Alumni have a great way of knowing exactly what you need to hear as you’re going through the recruiting process because they’ve been in your shoes and they will be honest with you. I feel a responsibility to pass this value along as an alum myself now, helping to mentor students to find that perfect job fit.

The 2018 Careers in Marketing Forum, hosted by Commerce Career Services and sponsored by Altria, will be held in Rouss & Robertson Halls 5-7:15 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 27, and 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28.

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