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Christiana Stewart (IMC15)

Promotions Strategy at Sephora 

Christiana Stewart HeadshotChristiana Stewart knew she wanted to work at Sephora someday. After completing her masters in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern Medill, and learning a lot during her three years at Walgreens, she started at her dream company based in San Francisco last October.

Sephora is a personal care and beauty retailer with approximately 2,300 stores in 33 countries. Stewart is the senior marketing manager of loyalty and promotions. She credits her continued success to her Medill experience.

The financial gains and management position [I’ve attained] wouldn’t have been achieved as quickly without my Medill degree,” Stewart said. “Coming from such a prestigious program in a highly respected university really sets you apart in the candidate pool.”

Tell us about your current role at Sephora.

I oversee Sephora’s promotions strategy in store and online. All discount events, gifts with purchase and points promotions have to be strategically placed throughout the year in order to ensure optimal performance and meet financial goals. I manage a team of three people who aid in the execution of the promotions.

Tell us about your career journey so far.

About two years prior to attending Medill, I decided that if I wasn’t in my dream job I’d pursue grad school programs at age 25. When I enrolled at Medill, I know that I wanted to work at Sephora one day, I just needed to figure out how I’d get there. I honed in on the brand marketing and content courses in the IMC program.

After graduating from Medill, I wanted to stay in Chicago, while choosing a company that would help with closing the gaps on my resume that I needed to fulfill in order to pursue Sephora one day. I started working at Walgreens on their email and direct mail channels for their loyalty program, the largest loyalty program in the world. After almost three years and a promotion at Walgreens, I started to look toward the next opportunities. I found the position at Sephora and the rest is history!

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

I remind myself daily to keep the customer at the core of all our marketing efforts, one of Medill’s strongest values. It’s so easy to do what “feels right” in marketing, but we must always maintain to answer the customer needs. I also feel the Financial Accounting class with Karen Brown plays one of the more important roles with my current position. I have to financially forecast the year and understanding what drives maximum ROI in the short and long term is critical to the role.

What was your takeaway from Immersion Quarter?

My Immersion Quarter was with Ingenico, based in Amsterdam. The project was focused on breaking down silos within the company as it needed to shift brand identities. All of your marketing should be integrated and not siloed. Silos can form so easily in highly matrixed organizations, but always remembering to take in the full customer journey is important to keep top of mind.

It is not easy to break down silos, but showing cross functional teams what they have in common as opposed to why they differ helped Ingenico teams see the bigger picture and work to achieve the brand identity shift. After my time with Ingenico, it was important I worked with a global brand to keep my mind open to other cultures when it comes to marketing.

What is an experience or class from the IMC program that sticks out in your mind?

I loved all of my strategic communications classes with Senior Lecturer Nancy Hobor and Professor Ernest Duplessis. Although I didn’t pursue an internal communications career, the classes challenged me to think about each and every communication I send out and of how others can perceive my communication.

How did the Medill IMC network help you in your job search?

I was able to get recommendations and initial screenings with companies based on those recommendations. It’s true, it’s all about who you know. Once you know someone and get the initial interview, you can seal the deal.