Strat Comm M.A. Alum Shares Success
For the first time in the Strategic Communication Professional M.A. program’s 12 years, an alum took center stage at the biannual forum. Shreya Mukherjee was a member of the program’s first cohort and is now the SVP, Strategy Director at Publicis—one of the world’s largest marketing and communications companies—managing the global branding and sponsorship initiatives for Citi. Held in the Johnson Room at McNamara Alumni Center, the Spring Forum took place on March 30, 2017.
Mukherjee spoke about the state of advertising strategy, and how brands can lean into cultural and consumer mindset shifts and make an impact in an era of hyper brand scrutiny. “In 2007-08, we saw a seismic shift in the consumer landscape and how we engage with brands,” she said. “And now again we see another shift after the most recent election, not just here in the U.S. but across the world. Brands don’t have a choice but to be a part of the conversation. The tricky part is, not taking a stand, is in fact, taking a stand.”
Mukherjee was working in India 13 years ago when she heard about a brand-new professional master’s program at the University of Minnesota. “It was a program that felt very fresh and unique—a combination of courses I couldn’t find anywhere else,” she said. “Leveraging an approach where students could immerse themselves in both consumer psychology, research methodologies and business.” She called the School and asked if she could apply. Because she’d have to come to the United States on a student visa, she wouldn’t technically be a professional that the program was targeting—even though she’d previously worked at BBC, Sony Music and the Times of India Group. “But they welcomed me with open arms and I’m forever grateful they said yes,” she said.
More than a decade later, Mukherjee is still grateful for the opportunity, especially as an international student. “This program allowed me to find footing for my career in the U.S.,” she said. “Additionally, having three years in Minnesota allowed me to understand an integral part of the country. I really cherish that.”
An important aspect about the program is how it brings professionals from different expertise and areas together, she said. “One can tend to fall into an echo chamber, but this program brings in different perspectives and engages different faculties of your mind.”
During her talk, Mukherjee walked the audience through her process of developing her client’s strategic briefs, specifically in a challenging climate filed with consumer mistrust. She demonstrated how one can quickly take into account and analyze the critical variables that impact the brand—events and movements that are taking place in society, technology, the economy and the environment as well as politics. Her talk focused on what strategists and media planners need to think about, especially in today’s world—without the indulgence of much time and with fewer resources to get the job done. “One of the key things you have to do as a planner is not only be culturally curious at all times, but continue to understand and articulate the underlying motivations driving behaviors,” she said. “As a strategist, you have to present the holistic picture, which means clearly connecting the dots between the client’s business objectives, culture and consumers.”
The program’s next forum, held for alumni of the master's program, takes place on Oct. 26, 2017.