My MAP experience: Learning what the client wants––even when they don’t know it yet
By Jessica Lin, MM ‘17
The Capstone MAP is a great part of my Michigan Ross Master of Management program. It’s a series of workshops followed by a 10-week consulting experience with a team of students. Being able to apply what we learned in class to real life work is one of the things that drew me to Michigan Ross in the first place. And I was both excited and a little nervous to take on this work with a completely new team of people.
Because let’s be honest: the team is what really determines whether everything will be tons of fun or a painful struggle. So, with a mixture of excitement and anxiousness, we embarked on our first day just a few weeks ago.
I was happy to discover that my anxieties were unwarranted. My team is amazing and full of extremely smart and talented people, and we hit the ground running. Our client, Banza, is a CPG startup company that makes gluten-free pasta out of chickpeas. Our project focuses on marketing—how Banza can market their macaroni and cheese to get people to try it and become loyal customers.
Because Banza is a startup, we had the freedom to use our creativity and make bold suggestions. We conducted 1-on-1 interviews and taste tests comparing Banza to similar products. Banza's products are great in that they are making classics like macaroni and cheese available to gluten-intolerant people or people with Celiac's disease. Their target market is not only this niche group, but everyone.
Our research of Banza’s four types of macaroni and cheese shows that customers enjoy the smell, look, and taste, but they find that the slightly more grainy texture takes some getting used to.
I have to admit that the work, as meaningful as it was, was only a small part of what makes the MAP experience during the Ross MM program so special. Working with a client directly taught us how to communicate effectively, identify what our sponsors really wants (not just what they are saying), and how to navigate through creating an actionable and impactful deliverable.
MAP also helps us take what we learn in class to the next level. We are challenged to work with missing data or make educated assumptions with uncertainty during MAP. My MM classes give me the foundation, but applying what we have learned is what makes me thankful I decided to come back to school. I worked for a tech startup before attending Ross, so being able to get such hands-on, real-world experience in my program has been awesome. It’s letting me experience what a career in marketing will really be like!
Jessica Lin, MM ‘17, graduated from UC Berkeley in 2015 with a BS in Environmental Economics and Policy. She interned for a tech startup in Barcelona, focusing on partnership strategy and international relations, before starting the Master of Management program at Michigan Ross.