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Anna Klutho (IMC16)

Market Research Manager at Adobe

Anna Klutho (IMC16) started her career in marketing strategy and communications, but the Medill Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Full-Time master's program set her on a career trajectory she never would have expected.

Medill IMC first introduced her to the world of analytics and insights and the value of data-driven, customer-centric insights in marketing and business decisions. Through her classes, she discovered she had a knack for recognizing patterns in data, connecting those patterns with business needs, and communicating those insights in a compelling way through words and visuals. She also learned that there were jobs in high demand that would allow her to apply these strengths to benefit consumers and drive business results.

One of Klutho's IMC professors connected her to Adobe, and the rest, she says, is history. Looking back on her 4+ years at Adobe, Klutho is grateful to have worked on many projects, from customer segmentations to positioning research to market landscape assessments.

What are your main responsibilities as a market research manager at Adobe?

I currently lead end-to-end customer and market research programs for Adobe’s flagship photography and imaging projects, including Photoshop, Lightroom and a host of mobile apps. Striking the balance of being both a research expert and business consultant, I generate actionable insights across the customer journey to inform product marketing and campaign strategies.

How did the Medill IMC program prepare you for your job?

With advancements in data science and marketing technology, today’s insights professionals are expected to be more than technical experts. Rather, they're expected to be strategic business partners who can connect, communicate and make meaning from data to impact both the customer experience and overall business performance. IMC’s relentless focus on the art and science of customer centricity really set me up for success for entering this ever-evolving industry with the perspective needed to excel in this field.

Beyond this, Medill IMC also taught me the core technical skills that I use daily in my job, including statistics, analysis techniques and SPSS. I regularly leverage these skills to dig deep into data and determine the right analysis path for the question at hand.

How do you apply the IMC way of thinking that uses both art and science in your job?

One thing I love about IMC is the focus on leveraging both analytical and creative thinking to understand the customer and inform marketing/business decisions. In my job, I am constantly flexing both approaches to analyze quantitative and qualitative data, surface compelling customer insights, deeply understand implications for both the customer and the business, and then connect these insights with actionable recommendations for my stakeholders to leverage in their marketing strategies.

What did you do during your Immersion Quarter?

I was a member of a five-person IMC student team working on a customer segmentation project with Gap, Inc. in San Francisco. In collaboration with my teammates and project sponsors, we sought to analyze customer behavioral and transactional data, derive meaningful insights and develop actionable marketing recommendations to help Gap identify, grow and retain their best customers. This was my first “real-life” experience in an insights role at a company, and I definitely used this in interviews to demonstrate my skills and open doors in the industry.

What is a class or experience that sticks out in your mind and why?

There are so many great classes to choose from! One of my favorites was Shopper Marketing with Elizabeth Harris and April Carlisle. This is such a fascinating topic and really changed the way I think when I go grocery shopping—from evaluating the layout of the store, to my mental math when considering a price deal, to taking in all the marketing promotions throughout the store, my grocery shopping has never been the same.

Aside from my Immersion Quarter project, I am also most proud of my group project from this class, where I worked with other stellar students to develop a shopper marketing plan for a real client. And as Elizabeth and April are industry professionals currently working in this field, they held us to a standard expected of their own employees, which pushed me and my team to exceed expectations and deliver our best work possible.

How have the Northwestern and Medill networks helped you in your career?

In addition to a robust network of fellow students and alums, Medill IMC also has an amazing roster of professors with many years of academic and professional experiences in the industry. Through the small class sizes and extracurricular opportunities, these professors get to know their students extremely well over the course of the program and are an excellent resource and sounding board for career planning. While in my job search before graduation, I was connected to Adobe through one of my professors who knew me, my skills and my interests for my next career move. I couldn’t be more grateful for her support in making this connection for me.

What other types of master’s programs did you consider?

I always knew that I wanted to get my master’s degree, but I wasn’t very interested in getting an MBA. In undergrad, I majored in business with an emphasis in marketing, but I was surprised by how few marketing classes I needed to graduate with that specialization. For my master’s, I wanted a program where I could go deep into marketing rather than have marketing be just one part of my overall curriculum. In a Google search for MBA alternatives, I discovered Medill IMC and was immediately attracted to the vision of IMC, the program itself and what it offered. That coupled with the well-known, well-respected status of Northwestern and Medill, I knew this was the program for me.

What advice would you give to someone considering Medill IMC?

Take advantage of the many opportunities that the program offers—classes, group projects, Immersion Quarter, global courses, student committees and events—each offers the chance to make connections, build relationships, expand your outlook and challenge your thinking in its own unique way. Come with an open mind and embrace the possibilities of where IMC may take you.