Georgetown McDonough's MBA programs launched their first collaboration with Nestlé this year, giving students practical experience in the consumer packaged goods industry and giving Nestlé access to fresh, innovative thinking. Six students from the Full-time and Evening programs worked in two teams with the company’s beverage division as advisors for the company’s brands, culminating in a presentation on their findings on Dec. 7.
Gopika Spaenle, associate director of the MBA Career Center, initiated the collaboration with Nestlé last summer in part because the company is the only major consumer packaged goods provider in the D.C. area.
Nestlé provided coaching and mentoring for the students during the program. Christyna Harris, a marketing associate for Nestlé, met with the teams at least once a week and said the students made valuable contributions to the company.
“They were able to share some really ‘aha’ moments and insights,” Harris said.
David Lombardi (MBA’19) interned for a competitor of Nestlé the previous summer and wanted to expand his real-life experience working with consumer packaged goods providers. He and his team worked on branding ideas for products already on the shelves — looking to examples from similar products whose brands had been reinvigorated — while the other team developed branding recommendations for products in the development stage.
Nestlé managers were impressed by the quality of work that the MBAs brought to the program, Harris said. Particularly noteworthy was their ability to work both independently and on teams, and their ability to envision a realistic way to bring the brands they worked on to market using Nestlé’s existing infrastructure.
The partnership with Nestlé is indicative of the experiential learning that’s a hallmark of the Georgetown McDonough MBA program, as well as a key example of the school leveraging its location and relationships in Washington, D.C.
“We exposed students to what it’s like to work in a [consumer packaged goods provider] and get great experience and exposure to leadership. It also will hopefully lead to stronger ties in career opportunities, too,” Spaenle said.
Lombardi hopes the partnership will be a model for more collaborations between the business school and private companies. “It’s great the career center was able to put this together, and it would be great for students to continue to get real-time access to challenges that business are facing.”