Building Her Brand
Engineering grad Himani Kesliker returns to Purdue for an MBA
Himani Kesliker comes from a family of engineers, so it was natural that she would study engineering at Purdue as an undergraduate. She graduated in 2005 with a degree in electrical engineering.
After working as a systems engineer for Lockheed Martin and as a business consultant for Accenture, Kesliker decided it was time to pursue a master's degree — but not in engineering. Rather she entered Krannert's MBA program in 2010 focusing on marketing and brand management. Why brand management?
"I realized that my engineering and quantitative background really helped me in studying brand management," Kesliker says. "While it has been known in the past as a more 'artsy and creative' path, companies are now looking for people with more quantitative experience to make data-driven decisions."
Kesliker says she chose brand management because it's about strategic decision making. She's now completing her second year in the MBA program after working last summer as an intern with Procter & Gamble's Gillette brand in Boston. The 12-week internship gave her deeper insight into the field.
"Brand managers not only have to know the market details regarding their brand but also have to be able to work cross-functionally in order to get the job done," Kesliker says. "I worked hand in hand with finance and supply chain teams to develop a holistic and sustainable recommendation. I really had to get buy-in from these folks in order to move forward with my project. As a result, I had to understand their incentives and identify ways to get alignment across the board."
Though brand management is a relatively new area of focus, Kesliker says that in today's economy it's critical. "With globalization and social media, consumers are relying more on what their peers are saying about products. If companies don't invest in brand management, it will be to the detriment of their success."
She credits John McConnell, the Emanuel T. Weiler Distinguished Professor of Management at Krannert, with forcing her out of her comfort zone. "I appreciate that he and professors Matthew Lynall and Aldas Kriauciunas helped me to change my train of thought and look at the bigger picture."
Kesliker says her study abroad program allowed her to explore business in China, a country where she found many similarities to her native India.
After graduation, she'll begin a role as an associate brand manager with Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, working on strategic, analytical and creative projects related to the Bounty brand. Eventually, she wants to apply her skills to helping people in underdeveloped countries.
"There is so much to be done to help people in those areas," Kesliker says.
She also wants to give back to her alma mater. "As a future graduate, I have a vested interest in making sure that Purdue and Krannert do well," Kesliker says. "I would love to one day be on the dean's advisory board. I would jump at the opportunity."