|Anthony in an LSBE lab|
Anthony LaPoint's enthusiasm and personable demeanor are revealed within minutes of starting a conversation with him. Good communication skills will serve him well in the world of retail marketing analytics where he'll need to move seamlessly from analyzing retail data to discussing findings with corporate decision makers.
This month, Anthony will graduate with a Marketing Analytics major and a Psychology minor. However, when the Maple Grove native first started the retail marketing analytics (ReMAP) program, he wasn't exactly sure what to expect.
ReMAP is offered through the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE). The program has gained national attention for its unique curriculum. Students build a strong foundation of statistical analysis by working with companies solving real world problems. Participants also take part in internships that give students the skills necessary to make more strategic merchandising and marketing decisions throughout their careers.
Students in the ReMAP program are expected to generate statistical information, analyze trends, create graphs and models of information, and probably the most challenging task – communicate this information to companies and consumers.
“The hardest part about working in retail marketing analytics is being able to communicate quantitative information in a simple and clear way that everyone can understand. Not everyone will see all the data that you collect so you have to make sure that you are relaying important information and making connections to what matters. You want to make sure that what you decide to talk about is very specific and important to the case,” said Anthony.
Students are also responsible for learning all the different software. They must have familiarity and operational skills for Excel, spreadsheets, analysis tools, statistical software, and pivot tables.
“Once you know one software, you can pretty much figure out the rest. After you put in the data the programs do the math for you and generate all of the charts and tables,” said Anthony. Then the analysts begin the hard work of translating the data into possible solutions.
Anthony’s first internship, during the summer after his junior year, was with Cargill, a company that provides food, agriculture, financial, and industrial products and services. “I worked about 40 hours a week for 12 weeks during that internship. I got a lot of experience working with specific cases,” said Anthony. “We were given a specific objective and the data that goes with it. There is a lot of problem solving and critical thinking that goes into finding the solution to the case.”
In the spring 2015, Anthony and other ReMAP students were given a case study with Hormel. A couple of professionals from the company came to the UMD campus and gave a presentation about the company and expectations for the project. Hormel provided the students with demographic and sales data, and were then divided into groups of three and all given the same objective of finding sales growth within a product category.
“We work hand in hand with a lot of companies,” said Anthony. “We are put in specific case sites and given tasks to accomplish.” The students work alongside company employees who regularly monitor their progress and assist them through their case projects.
“There is a lot of communication throughout the entire program and all of its processes,” said Anthony. "In the end, it felt a lot like I was doing consulting work for the company."
After completing the case projects, the students traveled to Hormel headquarters in Austin, Minn., to present all of their recommendations and data.
“It was an awesome experience to get to travel,” said Anthony. “It’s not just for school, because you can get career opportunities out of it as well.” At Hormel, analytical professionals rated and judged the students' work.
During Anthony’s senior year, Hormel came to a job fair and he was able to interview with them. “I was paired with the same representative that I worked with on my first case,” said Anthony. “I was given a phone interview with one of their HR directors; and soon after, I was offered the job.” Anthony will start his position at Hormel in Austin on June 13, just five weeks after graduating from UMD.
Anthony will begin in Hormel's training program. The program will take one and a half years and includes three concentrated areas of study: retail, analytics, and sales training. Hormel allows employees to advance through the training sessions if they meet the requirements.
“I am hoping that I’ll pass through the analytics session quickly because that's where I excel and hope to end up” said Anthony. “But who knows, maybe I’ll like the sales route instead of analytics, I’m keeping my options open.”
Learn more about the Marketing Analytics program and other majors offered through LSBE: https://lsbe.d.umn.edu/majors-minors/majors.
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